A watch for modernity
To introduce the reference 3940 in 1985 was a rather audacious move.
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, Stern decided instead to double down on the brand’s heritage by creating a pair of complicated references: the 3940 and its sister, the perpetual calendar chronograph reference 3970.
Rather significantly, the two references essentially kick-started the serial production of complicated Patek Philippe watches. A rather daring step, considering most of the industry was moving away from tradition, rather than embracing it.
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 with a smoother, more modern design. Powered by a much thinner movement, it enabled an elegant, slim case that fit tightly to the wrist.