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.
The bracelet, believed to have been made by a German jeweller specifically for Patek Philippe
, is built with two layers of woven gold, in a pattern sometimes playfully referred to by collectors as “Swiss cheese”
. The bracelet on the Ref. 3597
is removeable, which is unusual and rare, as the vast majority of Beta 21
watches produced had fixed bracelets.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.