Patek Philippe - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIV Hong Kong Friday, May 27, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1990
    Reference No: 3974
    Movement No: 2’867’037
    Case No: 1’906’014
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 27RQ, 39 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Crocodile
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Patek Philippe pin buckle
    Dimensions: 36mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Certificate of Origin dated 16th October 1990 stamped Patek Philippe Salon Geneva, hang tag, leather folio and original wooden presentation box and outer packaging. Delivered with a Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1990 with black lacquered dial and raised Breguet numerals in gold and its subsequent date of sale on October 16, 1990.
    Literature: Reference 3974 is illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, p. 325.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Over some 150 years ago, the first watches made by Patek Philippe were repeating pocket watches. Before electricity and the introduction of luminous materials, it is shockingly impressive that repeating watches were the most effective way of telling time in the dark. Fast forward to modern times, minute repeating timepieces still hold a special place in the world of horology as not only does it showcase the mastery of the watchmaker but ensures pleasure to the owner every time it strikes and generates a clean and harmonious chime.

    In 1989, Patek Philippe celebrated their important 150th anniversary by releasing a series of limited edition commemorative watches. Among them all, the crown jewel of the collection apart from the cal. 89 pocket watch was the collector’s favourite and at the time the most complicated wristwatch by the firm, the coveted ref. 3974 self-winding minute repeating perpetual calendar wristwatch. Extremely impressive, elegant with utterly attractive looks, the reference featured a classic style three-piece 36mm diameter case with a display caseback. Early examples of the case were made by the reputable Jean-Pierre Hagmann with his hallmarks stamped beneath the bottom right lug. Later examples featured cases made by Atelier Reunis. Originally trained as a jeweller and renown in producing watch cases notably minute repeater cases for Patek Philippe, works of Mr. Hagmann is the indicator of top-tier case quality. Today, the "JHP" seal speaks volumes and have become fabled among collectors.

    Powering the complicated ref. 3974 is Patek Philippe’s self-winding cal. 27RQ with an impressively thin thickness of just 6.8mm comprised of a total of 467 components stamped with the Geneva seal. Starting from the very first example in yellow gold with the movement number 1’906’000, one of which that has a permanent place in the Patek Philippe Museum, the present lot baring the number 1’906’014 is the 15th model to be produced, making this rare example being one of the earliest produced featuring the desirable “JHP” hallmark stamped beneath the bottom right lug.

    Produced from 1989 to 2002, it is believed that approximately 120 examples of the reference were produced across all metals including yellow gold, pink gold, white gold and platinum. While most examples were cased in yellow gold, not more than 20 examples in pink gold and a dozen in white gold and platinum were produced. From which, only approximately 20 examples of yellow gold examples have surfaced in the market since its launch. While most examples in yellow gold featured a silver dial with dauphine hands and applied gold stick indexes only a few pieces were equipped with special dials.

    This brings us to the present example ref. 3974 in yellow gold that PHILLIPS is extremely excited to offer for the second time at auction, originally sold at The Geneva Watch Auction: THREE on 15th May 2016 (lot 160). Preserved and kept in the same way as it was offered before, the present example features an extremely rare possibly unique glossy black lacquer dial with an interesting and never seen before configuration. The most notable feature is with no doubt the Calatrava cross logo under the signature at 12 o’clock, while regular examples of the reference does not feature it. Another attractive point is its applied gold Breguet numerals that are always a rare and desirable configuration for complicated Patek Philippe wristwatches matching beautifully with the hue of the case. Regular examples are fitted with baton-style indexes. The hands on the present example are also different as its features elegant feuille (leaf) hands compared to dauphine hands in most examples. Furthermore, a keen eye may notice the difference in the fonts used for this present example especially for its date registers in italic. Possibly unique, this was most likely a special request from a VIP customer of Patek Philippe who wished to create a special version of one of the most important Patek Philippe references for himself.

    To the best of our knowledge, the offered timepiece is the only Patek Philippe "Grand Complication" with such a dial configuration known to the market.

    Being the most important, rare and desirable example in yellow gold to ever appear at auction, the present example possibly unique Patek Philippe ref. 3974 is a stellar example that will surely excite discerned collectors of important Patek Philippe timepieces.

  • 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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Property from an Important Collector Please note, this Lot is a Premium Lot. To bid on the Lot you must complete and satisfy our Premium Lot pre-registration procedure no later than 24 hours before the start of the Auction session in which it is offered. Please also note that all bidders must place bids in person, via absentee bid, or by telephone. Please contact the Department for details.

Σ ✱886

Ref. 3974
A superbly attractive, very important and possibly unique yellow gold minute repeating perpetual calendar wristwatch with moon phases, leap year indication, glossy black lacquered dial, applied Breguet numerals, Calatrava cross logo, Certificate of Origin and presentation box

36mm diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

HK$3,200,000 - 6,500,000 

Sold for HK$19,610,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia 
+852 2318 2031

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIV

Hong Kong Auction 27 - 28 May 2022