If you are reading this, the chances are that you are already familiar with some of the great Panerai History. It is not widely acknowledged how much Panerai have had influence in the World War Two. Being Italian at the time, it’s logical that Panerai was helping Italians during the war. So, what was influence of Panerai during World War Two?
Panerai before World War Two
Panerai was a supplier of military equipment for the Royal Italian Navy under Benito Mussolini. They have been making all sorts of diving instruments, including diving watches.
At the time, Panerai was collaborating with Rolex who was providing movement. Before World War Two, Panerai had Rolex make the watches for the Italian Navy. The Italian Navy under Mussolini, had a strong and innovative program for their Frogman who were nothing more than professional divers. Their watches had to withstand very harsh conditions under water and daily wear and tear.
Panerai during World War two
The Italian Royal Navy had, what we would call today, an elite naval sabotage unit. Their task was to go underwater undetected and blow up allies ships. The Regia Maina developed a new secret weapon that was basically underwater jet assault vehicle for two divers.
In November 1941, the British Mediterranean Fleet, which had their headquarters in Alexandria, Egypt, was very vulnerable. They had only two battleships available: the Queen Elizabeth and the Valiant. Italians were desperate to sink those two battleships so they broke out their secret weapon which was typically launched from a submarine.
The two divers would pilot this underwater assault submarine were wearing specially designed breathing equipment. On the night of December 18th 1941, three human torpedoes were launched from the Italian submarine Scrie commanded by Liutenant Borhese from the shore of the port of Alexandria.
You were right guessing that those Italian divers were wearing their Rolex made Panerai watches. The port of Alexandria had been sealed off by the British with large metal nets that were designed to stop torpedoes. The Italians on the three human torpedoes had to cut through the metal nets that also contained explosives. Their mission was imperative and of the highest priority to the Italians. Furthermore, destroying two British ships meat that they couldn’t retaliate.
They have successfully attached explosives to the ships and tried escaping. Some of them were captured, but some managed to escape in the raging chaos. All British crew members were rescued before the ships sunk to the bottom of the sea.
All of those brave divers were wearing legendary Panerai watches.