Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces

New York, Jun 08, 2011

LOT 339

Patek Philippe Ref. 3971 Yellow Gold Patek Philippe, Genève, No. 875450, case No. 2856541, Ref. 3971E. Made in 1989, sold on December 4th, 1989. Very fine and rare, astronomic, 18K yellow gold wristwatch with round button chronograph, registers, perpetual calendar, moon phases and an 18K yellow gold Patek Philippe buckle.

USD 90,000 - 110,000

CHF 80,000 - 95,000 / EUR 60,000 - 75,000

Sold: USD 104,500

C. Two-body, solid, polished, concave bezel, fluted lugs, screwed-down transparent case back, sapphire crystals. D. Matte silver with applied yellow gold baton indexes, outer minute/seconds and 1/5th seconds divisions, auxiliary dials for the seconds, the 24 hours, the 30 minute register, the leap year and the days of the month, apertures for the days of the week, the months and the moon phases. Yellow gold feuille hands. M. Cal. 27-70 Q, stamped with the Seal of Geneva Quality Mark, rhodium-plated, fausses cotes decoration, 24 jewels, straight-line lever escapement, Gyromax balance adjusted for heat, cold, isochronism and 8 positions, shock absorber, self-compensating free-sprung Breguet balance spring. Dial, case and movement signed. Diam. 36 mm. Thickness 13 mm.

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Grading System
Case: 2

Very good

Movement: 2*

Very good

Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 2-01

Very good

HANDS Original


Ref. 3970 / 3971 (1986-2005) The 3970 was introduced for Patek Philippe?s 150th anniversary, to replace the successful model Ref. 2499, which had been produced from 1951 to 1985. Thanks to the explosive popularity of collecting vintage Patek Philippe wristwatches during the early 1980's, collectors had discovered the extreme rarity and enduring value associated with these timepieces. In a rare breach of Patek?s legendary secrecy, it was discovered that fewer than 400 Ref. 2499 timepieces, including the final evolution, the Ref. 2499/100, had been manufactured during the model?s entire production. Patek Philippe also sensed the need for a more modern design of its flagship model, which had only undergone minor design revisions over a 30 year period. When Patek Philippe first launched this new series of watches in 1986, Ref. 3970 was the model bearing a metallic back, while Ref. 3971 was equipped with a sapphire back. Very soon, the reference number of this model was standardized to Ref. 3970. In consequence, very few examples of the present watch bear Ref. 3971.
Antiquorum?s 1989 thematic auction ?The Art of Patek Philippe? signaled the start of the company?s growing popularity among watch enthusiasts. Although Patek Philippe had always cultivated a discerning, loyal clientele, it was never a high profile brand. That changed dramatically as affluent individuals began purchasing modern Patek Philippe wristwatches to wear and enjoy. Consequently, thanks to the successful market of the late 1980s, the Ref. 3970 became a ?best seller? for Patek Philippe. Amazingly enough, only a handful of collectors recognized the true scarcity of certain variations for this watch, in particular, the endless possibilities for collecting Ref. 3970 by dial variation or different styled indexes and/or hands.