Rolex made for Officine Panerai Reference 3646
Around 1935 and following disappointing tests carried out on watches available at that time, the Royal Italian Navy approached Giuseppe Panerai with the request of designing a watch resistant to extreme conditions while at the same time keeping exact time. The prototype which Panerai submitted to the First Submarine Group Command was called "Radiomir" and passed all tests successfully. A further order was made and following an extensive secret test phase watches were supplied to the Italian naval forces as of 1938.
From the beginning, watches with reference no. 3646 were made by Rolex for Panerai following strict technical requirements, notably a 47 mm. wide cushion-shaped case with soldered curved wire lugs, screw down "onion" crown, 12-sided case back and a Perspex crystal. The 16 lines caliber 618 Cortébert movements were finished by Rolex and decorated with the Geneva stripes.
Watches and other instruments made by Panerai were standard-issue tools for Italian Navy frogmen, SLC torpedo riders and commandos but were supplied also to naval forces of other countries, notably Germany. Since the 1940s, this was has remained in the same family, based in America.
Special thanks to Volker Wiegmann and Ralf Ehlers for their assistance with this lot.
For similar examples of the reference 3646/Type C, please see The References, 1930‘s-1940‘s, Chapter II.III.