Ref. 3597 | yellow gold
This Patek Philippe, Ref. 3597, is as bold and exuberant as it is historically significant. It is powered by the important Beta 21 movement, which was developed at a time of crisis for the Swiss watch industry, and is housed within a design which was unprecedented for Patek Philippe at the time. John Reardon of COLLECTABILITY, formerly from Christie’s, explains why he find this watch irresistible:
"In the early 1970s, the quartz revolution was redefining the whole direction of horology. This particular watch to me represents that monumental shift, not only for the world of horology, but for Patek Philippe in particular. [...] It couldn’t be further from my preferred aesthetic, and for that reason I’m in love with the watch."
The quartz crisis of the late 1960s and early 1970s, fuelled by the development of inexpensive and accurate quartz movements from Japan, posed a heightened threat to traditional watchmaking. As a response, Patek Philippe and other manufacturers, including Rolex, Omega and Piaget, joined forces to form the Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH) in 1962, in order to research quartz movements. Seeking to develop more accurate alternatives to mechanical timepieces, the CEH’s research culminated in the development of the Beta 21 movement, which delivered unprecedented accuracy of just five seconds deviation per month.
Only 6,000 Beta 21 movements were ever produced and shared amongst the co-operating brands. Patek Philippe further altered the base movement, reducing the oscillation rate from 8192 Hz to 256 Hz, by means of a proprietary frequency reducer. The unique power plant jumps 256 times per second to create the impression of continuous motion, as the seconds hand smoothly glides across the dial.
The Ref. 3597 was introduced in 1973, having been preceded by the Ref. 3587, introduced in 1969, which was the first Patek Philippe reference to house a Beta 21 movement. This particular example was produced in 1974, and subsequently sold on 30th June, 1976.
From a design standpoint, the Ref. 3597 is a testament to Patek Philippe’s capacity to remain contemporary and relevant. Measuring an imposing 43mm in diameter, this reference was the largest diameter, serially-produced wristwatch ever made by Patek Philippe at the time. With its television-shaped design and absence of visibile lugs, the case exudes 1970s design, with this particular example retaining its brushed finish. The dial features a two-tone gold sunburst finish, date indication and distinct multi-facetted hour markers.
Unashamedly a product of its time, the assertive design and often polarising effect of the Ref. 3597, only adds to its appeal and explains its cult following among collectors.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.
|Movement:||Quartz - Beta 21|
|Functions:||date, hours, minutes, centre seconds|
|Features:||Beta 21 movement, removeable bracelet|
|Case:||43 mm yellow gold|
|Bracelet:||Patek Philippe yellow gold bracelet and Patek Philippe yellow gold buckle|
|Box & papers:||Extract from the Archives|
The case is well-preserved, with the brushed polish finish showing signs consistent with wear and and sharp hallmarks visible on the left-hand side of the case. The inner-case-back correctly displays the watch’s unique serial number (274 XXXX), as well as the reference number ‘3597'.
The dial is similarly well-preserved, with no signs of previous exposure to the elements (or intervention), with slight patina apparent on the hour markers.
The 13 jewels Beta 21 movement of this Ref. 3597 has been fitted with a new battery. It keeps excellent time and comes with a two-year warranty from A Collected Man.
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