Vintage watch auctions: A rare Panerai Radiomir Type A just sold for more than €200,000

Panerai Radiomir Type A Ref. 6152

This legendary timepiece smashed its auction estimate, selling for a quarter of a million euros

At its Fine Watches sale on 23 January 2019, Artcurial Auctioneers sold a rare Panerai Radiomir Type A vintage timepiece for €226,000 (S$346,882), far exceeding its modest estimate of between €80,000 (S$122,776) to €120,000 (S$184,181). This one-of-a-kind timepiece originally belonged to one Rear Admiral Amedeo Vesco of the Italian Navy, Marina Militare Italiana. In 1936, the Italian Navy commissioned 100 such watches to be issued to its elite fighters and commanders.

The familiar cushion-shaped Radiomir case here measures 47mm – a quaint reminder of the oversized dimensions of military watches used during the Second World War. It has a screw-down crown in the standard cylindrical shape emulated by the contemporary Panerai’s Radiomir 1940 collection. Made for Panerai by Rolex – Panerai didn’t have its own manufacturing facilities back in the day – the case and movement are branded with the Rolex name and crown.

It is far from mint condition – the Plexiglas crystal, black dial with baton markers and double-pencil luminous hands show clear signs of age. However, this only serves to reinforce the watch’s beautiful backstory. Rear Admiral Amedeo Vesco (1914-2002) was one of the heroes of the Second World War who had taken part in the commando operations of the MAS Flotilla.

In the early 1950s, Ref. 6152, which had replaced the legendary 3646, was historic in all respects, notably for its provenance and also for its technical and aesthetic characteristics which continue to be sought after by a large number of collectors.