25 May, 2014


At Sotheby’s auction “Important Watches”, held in Geneva on 14th May 2014, the all time record for sale of a Panerai watch was set. An extremely rare example of a stainless steel Luminor from 1955 was acquired by a Panerai enthusiast who bid the record sum of CHF 425,000 (equivalent to approximately €348,000 or $478,000), from an estimate of CHF 180,000/360,000.

Vintage Panerai watches regularly feature in thrilling auctions where the most passionate collectors and connoisseurs bid for models which are often unique pieces, by virtue of the rarity of the timepieces produced during the history of the Florentine watchmaker. This rarity, combined with the timeless and still extraordinarily up-to-date design of the watches is the main factor driving the continual rise in the value of Panerai models, not just the vintage ones but also many of those being produced now in limited editions faithfully inspired by models from the past.

The Luminor sold at the Sotheby’s auction is a reference 6152/1 that can be dated circa 1955, with a stainless steel case, the classic levered bridge device protecting the winding crown which also characterizes the Luminor watches of today, a manual-wound mechanical movement, screw down case back, and large black dial with baton markers and numbers at the cardinal points.

What distinguishes this model and makes it unique is the rotating bezel made of polycarbonate, transparent and with small luminescent or black dot markers. The removable bezel, a never before-seen feature, suggests this was probably a prototype that never went into production.

This record-breaking Luminor was offered as it is by the descendents of Admiral Gino Birindelli (1911–2008), to whom the watch belonged. Admiral Birindelli served and had a distinguished career in the Royal Italian Navy, which later became the Italian Navy, taking part in a number of the most heroic underwater missions of the Second World War, and being awarded with a medal for Military Valour for his bravery.