Leather straps and Panerai is a very strong connection from the beginning of the brand..
As you all know I am very passionate about vintage straps and in my hunt for knowledge I have concluded to some facts.. But with Panerai you can never be sure and there will always be an exemption to the rule.
Please feel free to add or correct any of the following..
First of all thanks a lot for the knowledge shared by some of the passionate Vintage collectors of our forum.. Without them I would have still been clueless..
The big categories of vintage straps:
The Radiomir - 3646 strap.
As the watch had welded lugs the strap was stitched to the watch and only at the lugs. It had a nickel plated brass buckle with the knife edge profile.
They were usually either dark brown or black pigskin leather and very thin. That and the stitching only at the lugs made them extremely fragile in underwater use so a big majority of them were damaged and the owners had to replace them probably from German and Italian local leather shops.
I won’t get into any details on this as I don’t think there is basically any proper pattern and if there is I have not studied them so good to give here a detailed presentation.
The watches strap
That strap came in 26mm width and here is the tricky part.. in 3 sizes??
The 160/100 and the 150/90 are the two certain sizes, but there is a 155/95 size out there. As the straps were used underwater and they have obviously shrunk I am not sure if the middle size is a proper size or a shrunk 160/100. I personally find no use for Panerai at that time to put a medium length but cannot confirm.
They had 6 (some 5) holes. Any additional holes were made by the user because of the XL size/length.
They are machine stitched and they have 6 small knots on the lug side and an embossing line around all stitching and at the keepers.
The leather was not consistent. As someone who knows a few things about leather I have seen many variations of hides used depending on the period and the model. A detailed database that will state which leather goes to which model would be quite difficult but not impossible
1) The ‘mustardy’ hide strap:
2) The ‘tan’ hide strap:
3) The more shiny ‘orangey’ hide strap:
The instruments/Big Egiziano:
From what I have seen, and put them in another category, both instruments (depth gauge and compass) and the Big Egiziano always show a strap that nowadays looks heavily abused. It was either an inferior hide to the ones used in ‘watches’ and it was really damaged after some underwater use… or the users did not used the whale oil before and after the use. A big majority of the examples I have seen (especially from instruments) show an extremely dry strap.
Maybe it was a hide that had some kind of a layer on top (maybe to make it waterproof that it was scratching very easily and maybe this is the reason the straps were damaged easily.
You can see what I mean here on the Big Egiziano:
Some of those straps usually had numbers written on them probably to show to which member were assigned or some kind of a reference? We all know now the classic :P ‘74’ strap (on a watch) which has probably been assigned to hundreds of modern divers but there were so many more numbers especially on instruments straps
The 70-80’s compass nylon strap
Nothing more to say here. We all know this tactical black nylon strap used in the ‘modern’ compasses with the sandblasted Gpf Mod Dep buckles which get rusty.. I have yet to find out what significance they have the numbers on the front of the buckles (usually 1-2-3)
Oddities and rarities..
Well a Panerai article without them it would be impossible. We are talking about Italians
Here is a strap which is dark brown… someone told me that it has patina’d to this color but I am not convinced. It is too uniformly brown. I find it more possible that the owner painted it dark brown but still my personal opinion is that this hide was originally dark brown
And here a 3646 with sewn-in a 6152/1 strap.. Probably the owner sent the watch back to Panerai and they send it to their strapmaker of the time to stitch a new strap of the era (‘50-‘60)
Finally I am not getting in details on the GPF buckle subject.. Asi has covered most of them in his pictorial post here but I think in the future we might need a detailed explanation of each.
And now please enjoy the photos I have gathered through out the last 7 years from this forum.
It is impossible to credit each and every one of them but I and some other vintage enthusiasts are grateful for this watch ‘porn’.