Patek Philippe Calatrava, 3796, White Gold

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This Patek Philippe reference 3796*, is the perfectly refined essence of the Calatrava, a watch that was born with the reference 96 back in 1932. While nearly identical in proportions, this much more modern example, is the only one we have seen to feature a white gold case and rose gold indices, hands and crown, making it possibly unique. The watch comes with the original white gold buckle from the brand and is furnished with a Certificate of Origin from Patek Philippe, confirming the unusual details of the watch.


The Calatrava is often used as a byword for time-only dress watches by Patek Philippe, and while not known as such at the time, the Patek Philippe reference 96 would come to represent the archetype not just for a line that would come to be known as the Calatrava, but of understated dress watches in general.

Produced between 1932 and 1973, the Patek Philippe reference 96 was expressed through a wide variety of dial configurations, featuring no seconds, subsidiary seconds, and offset subsidiary seconds as well as centre seconds (thanks to a clever redesign of the 12’”120’s sub seconds incorporating an additional mechanism by Victorin Piguet that gave it its ‘indirect central seconds’ name). It has featured indices of all varieties – Arabic, Breguet, Roman, and precious stone – not to mention hands from dauphine and baton to pencil and leaf-style.

The success of the Ref. 96 resulted in a family of references all closely linked to the design of the original. The Ref. 570 was released in 1938; although an upsized rendition featuring a case measuring 35.5mm across, it is an example most enthusiasts agree closely follows the original formula. The Ref. 2457’s dimensions make it an even more faithful descendant of the Ref. 96. John Nagayama, a Japan-based watch dealer specialising in vintage Patek Philippe, also points to others such as the diminutive 28mm Ref. 437 and 438, and others such as the Ref. 2508, 2509, 2545 (32mm), 2555 (31mm) and 3439 (32mm), as examples of typical Calatrava models. John Reardon, Founder of Collectability, thinks others such as the 3796 and 3919 and more recent references like the 5196 also make the cut. Others wager that references such as the 5026, with its flat bezel and subsidiary seconds register, albeit offset, also fall within the historical parameters of a Calatrava.