A Historic Lineage
In 1941, Patek Philippe released the first serially produced perpetual calendar with chronograph, the reference 1518. It was decades ahead of any other brand. It not only marked the beginning of perpetual calendar chronographs for the brand, but of serially produced complicated watches for Patek Philippe, and for the industry in general. The complication has been in Patek’s catalogue ever since.
More than 40 years on from the release of the original perpetual calendar chronograph, Patek Philippe released the ref. 3970, considered by many to mark Patek Philippe stepping into the modern era. At a time when complicated watches were scarce, this was an important statement of ability from the manufacture.
Following on from the iconic reference 2499, the 3970 was produced from 1986 to 2004, in four successive series. Produced in 2001, this example belongs to the fourth series, which scholarship suggests was produced in 2,000 examples, across all four metals (yellow gold, white gold, rose gold and platinum).
Classical in design, this 3970EG features a 36mm white gold case, making it 1mm larger than the original 1518 and 1.5mm smaller than its predecessor, the 2499. Evidence suggests that Thierry Stern, CEO of Patek Philippe at the time, felt that this was the perfect size from an aesthetic perspective, and was also likely motivated by a desire to assert the manufacture’s expertise, by producing a complicated perpetual calendar chronograph in a smaller case size. Interestingly, the ref. 3970 also marked the first time that Patek Philippe produced a perpetual calendar chronograph in white gold.
The dial on this fourth series 3970EG respects the same key design principles as other Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronographs. It features a classic opalin velouté dial, with white gold, pointed baton indexes. You will find the day and month in apertures at 12 o’clock, the date with moon phase at 6 o’clock, a 30-minute counter for the chronograph and leap year indicator at 3 o’clock, and seconds and day/night indicators at 9 o’clock. This fourth series features baton hands, setting it apart from the leaf hands used in the first and second series. Overall, the design is balanced and restrained, carrying on the standard for perpetual calendar chronographs set by the manufacture.
Powered by the caliber CH 27-70 Q, the 3970 marked Patek Philippe's transition from a Valjoux-based movement to the venerable Lemania 2310 ébauche. Modified and decorated to Patek Philippe's standards and with an added perpetual calendar module, this reliable base movement remained in use for the entire lineage of the 3970.
Aesthetically, the new caliber is finished to the highest standards. The movement features exquisite chamfering on all angles, polishing and decoration, in the form of Geneva striping. To the wearer's delight, the movement is visble through the sapphire snap-on sapphire crystal caseback.
This Patek Philippe ref. 3970EG-016 comes as full-set, with its original box, Certificate of Origin, leather wallet, brochure, original hang tag, an additional 18K white gold screw back and setting pin.
It comes on one of our Zürich taupe grained calfskin strap, and is also accompanied by its original Patek Philippe black alligator strap and 18K white gold deployant clasp.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.