Patek Philippe - The New York Watch Auction: NINE New York Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1991
    Reference No: 3974J
    Movement No: 1’906’054
    Case No: 2’900’794
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. R27Q, 39 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Patek Philippe pin buckle
    Dimensions: 36mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed.
    Accessories: Accompanied by a Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1991 and its subsequent sale on December 10th, 1991.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Patek Philippe’s reference 3974 epitomizes the brand’s technical and design prowess manifested during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The execution of a perpetual calendar minute repeater is the litmus test for greatness in the field of high horology, and Patek Philippe has proven time and time again they are incomparable in this regard.

    Created under the guidance of Philippe Stern, this reference was launched in 1989 to celebrate Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary. Featuring an ultra-thin, in-house self-winding movement with minute repeater, perpetual calendar, 24-hour indication and moon phases, it was the world’s most complicated wristwatch at the time. The movement beating in the heart of this masterpiece is Patek Philippe’s caliber 27RQ, an impressively thin movement measuring just 6.8mm, comprised of 467 components. Another surprising feature is the micro-rotor, which provides an unobtrusive view into the superbly finished movement. The reference additionally stands-out as the first automatic-winding minute repeating watch ever made.

    While the case architecture is derived from the famed reference 2499, particularly the gracefully arched lugs when viewed in profile, there are some marked differences to allow for the slide mechanism and lack of chronograph pushers. Patek Philippe turned to Jean-Pierre Hagmann (whose initials are proudly stamped inside the solid caseback and inner lug), a living legend amongst case makers, to create a case that would not only be a beautiful vessel for the watch but could also act as a superb sound carrier for the repeater’s delicate chimes. These minute repeaters are known to be Monsieur Hagmann’s favorite creations for the brand, and the early examples with his initials are coveted by collectors. He began his career creating watch bracelets at Gay Frères and went on to create watch cases for the most illustrious Swiss brands – even creating the 26 cases for Patek Philippe’s Star Calibre 2000 in six weeks. The chimes in the present timepiece are crystal clear, perfectly timed, loud, and extremely pleasant to the ear - thanks to Patek Philippe’s technical expertise and Hagmann’s savoir faire.

    Dating from 1991, this exceptional yellow gold reference 3974 comes with not only its original silvered dial with gold hour markers as specified on the Extract from the Archives, but also an additional champagne, or “doré” dial that enhances its desirability. The reference 3974 is considered by many to be one of the most important Patek Philippe complicated wristwatches of the modern era, and the present example is a rare opportunity for the connoisseur.

  • 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. 3974J
An important, very rare, and impressive yellow gold minute repeating perpetual calendar wristwatch with moon phase, leap year and 24-hour indications, and additional doré dial

36mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed.

$250,000 - 500,000 

Sold for $635,000

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros
Deputy Chairman and Head of Watches, Americas
+1 (212) 940-1293
Isabella Proia
Head of Sale, New York
+1 (212) 940 1285

The New York Watch Auction: NINE

New York Auction 9 - 10 December 2023