I was however lucky enough to have had the opportunity to admire and photograph quite a few of those rare birds last year for the Paneristi calendar. Here are some of the photos that haven't been published before, some are in the 2010 calendar but most are not.
Vintage Panerai "Trittico"
The above photo shows a set that is known as the "Trittico", a depth gauge, a compass and the Luminor 6152/1. I've chosen to post this particular photo because it was not selected for the calendar. Another - similar - version was used instead.
Ref 6154 - Small Egiziano
The piece above is also known as the small "Egiziano" (Egyptian). It was made for the Egyptian navy in the fifties. Note that it has "Radiomir" on the dial. The contemporary Radiomirs don't have lugs like this vintage piece, they come with so called wire loops instead. Like the ones that the 3646 in the below picture uses. The wire loops that were used on the vintage models are however welded onto the case, as opposed to those on the modern Radiomirs that can be removed so that you change straps. The Ref 3646 exists in many variations as shown in the following photos.
To find out more about these vintage pieces I suggest that you have a look at the vintagepanerai.com by Ralf and Volker, two absolute authorities with regards to vintage Panerai watches and instruments.
As you can see in the above photo, the vintage watches were more or less a combination of the modern Radiomir and Luminor watches. Many of those models (3646) have lugs, but no crown guard.
Ref 3646 - brown dial and engraved bezel
Ref 6152 - blue dial
The 3646 variation with the California dial (below) is my personal favorite. The SE PAM249 was a re-edition of this model. You can find photos of the 2006 special edition here: PAM249 Radiomir 1936 California dial.
Ref 3646 - California dial
The photo below shows the vintage Luminor 6152/1. The dream of many Panerai enthusiasts is for Panerai to produce a re-edition of this model which is referred to as the "Base Fiddy" ie a 47mm 1950's style case and no sub seconds dial. Who knows, I'd be interested (understatement of the year).
Ref 6152/1 Panerai Luminor
I've posted more photos on Paneristi.com: Wake up you vintage lovers....
There's also a link on vintagepanerai.com
All photos © 2010 M.Wilmsen DO NOT USE THESE PHOTOS WITHOUT PERMISSION