Patek Philippe - The New York Watch Auction: SIX New York Saturday, June 11, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1990
    Reference No: 3971
    Movement No: 875’072
    Case No: 2’824’134
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 27-70 Q, 24 jewels, stamped with the Geneva seal
    Bracelet/Strap: Alligator
    Dimensions: 36mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, and movement signed.
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Certificate of Origin dated 23rd September 1990, product literature, leather wallet, setting pin, presentation box, and outer box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1986, the nearly four-decade long reign of the reference 2499 perpetual calendar chronograph came to a close, as Patek Philippe replaced its Valjoux-based perpetual calendar chronograph reference with the Nouvelle Lemania-based references 3970 and 3971. Initially these references differed only in the configuration of their caseback; the 3970 possessed a solid snap-on caseback, and the 3971 a sapphire snap-on caseback. Very few 3971s with this sapphire snap-on caseback were made, as the snap-on casebacks were quickly replaced by screw-down casebacks. The 3971 was only produced for about five years before it was absorbed into the general 3970 line, which would remain a mainstay of Patek Philippe’s catalogue until its discontinuation in 2004.

    This is an unusual evolution for any Patek Philippe model, and is indicative of the era in which the 3970 and 3971 came to be. In the wake of the Quartz Crisis, the coinciding identity crisis of many Swiss brands forced them to either pivot completely away from their previous lineage, or double down on their core values as purveyors of high horology. Patek interestingly decided to shrink the case size of the 3971 from the 2499/100, aligning it more with its grandfather reference 1518. While the output of the model was at the beginning relatively low and rumored to be difficult to sell, the reference caught on and production eventually ramped up. Consequently, early examples are much more scarce than later specimens.

    The present 3971, in yellow gold, bears the rare combination of a first series dial and snap-on sapphire caseback. It is fresh-to-the-market, and marks the fifteenth example known to scholarship. It is unpolished, with its original certificate confirming the sapphire caseback, and dated 1990 when it was sold by German retailer Huber. It is one of the rarest variants of the first modern perpetual calendar chronograph produced by Patek Philippe, and has been widely under appreciated previously, except for those most discerning of collectors.

  • 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. 3971
An exceptionally well-preserved and very rare yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, 24-hour and leap year indicators, snap-on sapphire case back, Certificate of Origin, and presentation box

36mm Diameter
Case, dial, and movement signed.

$80,000 - 160,000 

Sold for $226,800

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros

Head of Watches, Americas

+1 (212) 940-1293


Isabella Proia

Head of Sale, New York

+1 (212) 940 1285

The New York Watch Auction: SIX

New York Auction 11-12 June 2022