Patek Philippe - The Geneva Watch Auction: XIX featuring the Guido Mondani Collection Geneva Saturday, May 11, 2024 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1991
    Reference No: 3979
    Movement No: 1'904'030
    Case No: 2'906'832
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. R27 PS, 39 jewels, stamped with the Geneva Seal
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Patek Philippe officier style pin buckle
    Dimensions: 33mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Certificate of Origin dated December 12, 1991, Patek Philippe letter confirming that the company "exceptionally accepted to manufacture a white dial with Breguet numerals" for the watch, additional Roman numerals dial, additional solid caseback, product literature, leather wallet, sale tag, wooden presentation box and outer packaging.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Without a doubt, the present timepiece is one of the most important “pure” (no additional complication) minute repeater wristwatches made by Patek Philippe.

    Minute repeaters are undoubtedly considered - both by the public and by Patek Philippe themselves - one of the ultimate specialties of the brand. Made in extremely restricted numbers, they are the ultimate tier when it comes to Patek Philippe collecting. Modern timepieces are practically unobtainable unless the brand deems one worthy of such an honour, and the vintage and neo-vintage examples are even more difficult to come across given the even smaller output.

    Thus, the present special order piece unique can be considered as an absolute pinnacle of Patek collecting, a unique grail whose rarity and mechanical complexity is rivalled only by its elegance.

    Fresh-to-the-market and consigned by the original owner, the watch features a never-before-seen "porcelain" dial with painted Breguet numerals - in stark contrast with the rest of the 3979 production which features Roman numerals. The genesis of such a dial is fully documented both by Patek Philippe and by the meticulous collector himself in the accompanying documents. From Patek Philippe, the original letter dated December 3 1991 is present confirming the “exceptional production of a white dial with Breguet numerals” for the watch.

    From the collector, a handwritten note is present dated December 1991 - at the moment of purchase - stating that the Patek Philippe letter has to always accompany the Certificate of Origin for these explicit reasons:
    a) the watch was originally intended to have Roman numerals
    b) the letter certifies the special order request and acceptance
    c) the watch was delivered with Breguet numerals

    Indeed, the original Certificate dated December 12 1991 mentions the Roman numerals, but the letter is dated December 3 1991 as he wanted to receive official confirmation from Patek about the special order before picking up the watch from the shop. Finally, the Extract from the Archives confirming the Breguet numerals closes the circle demonstrating how the official dial the watch is recorded with is indeed the Breguet numerals one. This is not simply an additional dial offered to the client on the side; it rather is a truly bespoken configuration of the watch.

    Given how rarely Patek Philippe agrees to making special request pieces, that would be already enough to make this watch catnip for collectors. The fact that a special request has been granted on a repeating watch of course boosts the appeal of the package, but the fact that this was an Anniversary model renders the realisation of this piece unique absolutely mind-blowing : it would be simply unthinkable to obtain such a customisation on an Anniversary piece in modern days.

    In honour of its 150th anniversary, Patek Philippe launched a series of exclusive timepieces, marking a significant occasion in an era when such special editions were rare. Among these notable releases were the caliber 89 and two minute repeating timepieces: the reference 3974, featuring a perpetual calendar complication, and the reference 3979, like the present example, showcasing small seconds. The wrist models were celebrated as pivotal achievements for the brand, being the first self-winding minute repeating wristwatches they had ever produced.

    Housed in a refined 33mm round case with highly architectural lugs reminiscent of what seen on the vintage Patek minuter repeaters, reference 3979 was available in platinum, white gold, pink gold and yellow gold. With around 100 pieces made in total and only 24 having appeared publicly, the model is without a doubt one of the rarest modern repeaters made by the brand. Initially, cases for this reference were crafted by the skilled Jean-Pierre Hagmann. Later iterations like the present example featured cases by Geneva-based Atelier Reunis, identifiable by the key hallmark number 28. Interestingly, after the year 2000 all cases made by Atelier Reunis won't be stamped with key 28 anymore but rather with the signature oval PPC stamp.

  • Artist Biography

    Patek Philippe

    Swiss • 1839

    Since its founding in 1839, this famous Geneva-based firm has been surprising its clientele with superbly crafted timepieces fitted with watchmaking's most prestigious complications. Traditional and conservative designs are found across Patek Philippe's watches made throughout their history — the utmost in understated elegance.

    Well-known for the Graves Supercomplication — a highly complicated pocket watch that was the world’s most complicated watch for 50 years — this family-owned brand has earned a reputation of excellence around the world. Patek's complicated vintage watches hold the highest number of world records for results achieved at auction compared with any other brand. For collectors, key models include the reference 1518, the world's first serially produced perpetual calendar chronograph, and its successor, the reference 2499. Other famous models include perpetual calendars such as the ref. 1526, ref. 3448 and 3450, chronographs such as the reference 130, 530 and 1463, as well as reference 1436 and 1563 split seconds chronographs. Patek is also well-known for their classically styled, time-only "Calatrava" dress watches, and the "Nautilus," an iconic luxury sports watch first introduced in 1976 as the reference 3700 that is still in production today.

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Ref. 3979
A most likely unique, enormously collectible and higly refined yellow gold minute repeating automatic wristwatch with special order dial with Breguet numerals, Certificate of Origin, Patek Philippe special order letter, additional Roman numerals dial, made to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Patek Philippe

33mm diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

CHF200,000 - 400,000 

Sold for CHF254,000

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+41 79 637 17 24

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Head of Sale, Geneva

+41 79 460 55 88

The Geneva Watch Auction: XIX featuring the Guido Mondani Collection

Geneva Auction 11 - 12 May 2024