Perpetual Calendar 3940G | Grey Gold
Late Second Series
This white gold, Patek Philippe 3940 perfectly illustrates why the reference is so coveted. Understated both in styling and case-size, it carries a 'second-series' dial, with overlapping elements from the latter part of the production series. With its modest (by today's standards) 36 mm size, and svelte profile matched by a slim, micro-rotor movement, it's arguably one of most elegant offerings of the modern Patek Philippe era.
The Industry at a juncture
The reference 3940 was introduced by Patek Philippe in 1985, at a crucial juncture. The Swiss watch industry was still feeling the effects of not only the Quartz crisis, but also a global economic downturn which resulted in massive downsizing for many watch brands, with some pivoting towards this new technology and some having to fold altogether.
But rather than follow the wind, Philippe Stern, the CEO of Patek Philippe, decided instead to double-down on the brand’s heritage by creating the reference 3940. Alongside its sister reference, the 3970, the model essentially kick-started the serial production of complicated Patek Philippe watches. Prior to this, perpetual calendars were extremely scarce.
The reference 3940 decided to abandon the aesthetics cemented by previous references. The dial layout was revamped, with the day and month aperture being replaced with three sub-dials. The sharp lines were substituted for a smoother, more modern design. Powered by a much thinner movement, it enabled an elegant, slim case that fit tightly to the wrist.
A Classic Design
The dial has three registers, with the various functions neatly balanced out. The sub-dial at three o'clock shows the leap-year counter and the months (in English), in a slightly concave sub-register, giving depth to the lightly-brushed, opaline dial. In a similar fashion, the months and day/night indicators are placed at nine o'clock. The silver moon and stars for the moon-phase are placed at six o'clock, with the days of the month around it. Whilst more typically associated with third-series examples, the silver moon and stars are present on dials dating from approximately 1995 onwards.
The dauphine hands add a touch of sharpness to what only can be described as a beautifully executed dial. Evidence suggests that the dials for the reference 3940 were produced by Stern Frères, who provided many dials to Patek Philippe during this period. At 6 o'clock, the positioning of the Swiss sigma falls below the outer minute track, consistent with later 'second-series' examples, with the sub-dials also showing a serif font type.
This Patek Philippe 3940 features a rare, white gold case. More commonly executed in yellow gold, white metal examples are as rare as they are attractive. Indeed, the case metal further adds to the discreteness and elegance of this specific piece. During the 'second-series', the hallmarks on the reverse of the case also started to transition from only being featured on the side of the case, to being stamped both on the side and on the back of the lugs (at 5 and 7 o'clock). This particular example displays the hallmarks only on the reverse, on each of the four lugs, marking the transition between 'second' and 'third-series' cases, where the hallmarks were no longer stamped on the side of the case.
Representing the best of Swiss design, the movement itself is no less a technical feat. This example has a display case back, revealing the fantastic hand-finishing, the Genevian coat of arms and stripes, as well as the off-center, 22k gold micro-rotor. The ultra-thin, self-winding 240 Q base movement has been used by Patek Philippe since the 1970s, and continues to beat at the heart of their modern perpetual lines.
Timeless, elegant and discontinued - the reference 3940 is an investment for life, to be worn - and appreciated, daily.
Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.
To find out more about the 3940, read our in-depth Collector's Guide.
|Model:||Perpetual Calendar Ref. 3940G-013|
|Movement:||mechanical automatic micro-rotor 240 Q|
|Functions:||perpetual calendar: leap year indicator, month, date, day; moonphase, day/night indicators, hours, minutes|
|Features:||display caseback, opaline dial|
|Case:||36 mm 18-carat white gold|
|Crystal:||sapphire front and back|
|Bracelet:||Patek Philippe black alligator strap, Tokyo grained leather strap, Santorini textured saffiano strap, original white gold deployant|
|Box & papers:||original outer box, inner winding box, Certificate of Origin, complicated watches instruction booklet, distributors booklet, The Register leaflet, leather folio, spare solid caseback and setting pin|
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