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Panerai - A rare Panerai with provenance

Panerai A rare Panerai with provenance

A fine example of a vintage Panerai watch with impeccable provenance comes up for auction at Fellows next week.

As last year’s sale of Paul Newman’s Rolex showed, provenance can make the difference between a mundane auction and a record-breaking sale that creates waves far beyond the circle of watch fans and industry insiders. A vintage Panerai model coming up for auction at Fellows in Birmingham next week comes with a remarkably detailed provenance and an estimate of at least £30,000.

Even after auctioning a Rolex Milgauss for £110,000 last November, Fellows admits that this Panerai is one of the most fascinating timepieces that the company has ever come across and, once you’ve read its detailed history, you’ll see why. Officine Panerai supplied its military specification diving watches and accessories to Italian navy divers under an exclusive contract that lasted for many years (the first Panerai collection available to the general public was only presented in 1993). Yet the model being offered by Fellows has remained under the single ownership of the same British family since 1944!

A rare Panerai with provenance

Vintage Panerai Fellows

The Panerai came into the hands of George H. Rowson, who served in the 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment and was involved in Operation Market Garden, when the Allied Forces attempted to cross the Rhine and surround Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr valley. Part of this offensive included securing bridges across the Rhine into the Netherlands in order to liberate the cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen.

A first-hand account by Rowson explains that German navy divers fixed charges underwater to the main supports of the bridge at Nijmegen at 06.30 on 29th September 1944. Unfortunately, they emerged from the river thinking that they were back behind their lines only to be captured by a section of British soldiers including Rowson. The charges were defused and the bridge remained undamaged.

A rare Panerai with provenance

Vintage Panerai with Rolex movement Fellows

Thanks to the personal account of Mr Rowson, we know that the German diver who he acquired the watch from had received special training in Italy (since the Panerai was developed for the Italian Decima MAS) and was wearing an Italian-made specialised dive suit, a fragment of which is included in the sale. The watch has only been worn a few times since the war, which is a shame since the Rolex movement inside does not currently function. Nevertheless, this is a chance to acquire a watch with a genuine history that would make you the envy of the Paneristi. Check out Lot 188 on the Fellows Auction house page.

The brand

Representing a blend of Italian design with Swiss watchmaking technology, Officine Panerai follows the inspiration of its home city of Florence, which was the cradle of the Renaissance movement and all the art and science for which it was famous.

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