The beauty of writing for a publication as Haute Time, as well as suffering from a very severe case of watch addiction, is that sometimes you have the opportunity to highlight personal favorites. The longer you are part of this industry, the fewer they become. With the territory comes handling the world’s most precious, rare and exclusive watches, and honestly, you get spoiled. But there is another side to this: because you see so many watches, you develop your personal taste at a very rapid rate.
One of my all-time personal favorites from Patek Philippe is reference 3974. When this watch was launched in 1989, it was the most complicated wrist watch in the world. It combined a perpetual calendar with moon phase and 24-hour indication with a minute repeater. Designed to celebrate Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary it was the brand’s calling card regarding tradition and technical achievement.
To me, it is the movement that set this Patek Philippe apart from the rest. Caliber 27RQ combines a minute repeater with a perpetual calendar, and does so with 467 components, in a movement only 6.8 mm high. The icing on the cake it the gold micro-rotor that powers the movement. Not only does this result in a stunning movement layout, but it also turns reference 3974 in the very first minute repeater that features an automatic movement.
The example that we have here is a reference 3974 unlike any other, as it was a custom order. A deep black lacquered dial feature applied gold Breguet numerals, as well as the Calatrava cross under the Patek Philippe name. When you look closer, you see that even the text of the calendar uses a unique italicized font.
Patek Philippe made reference 3974 until the year 2000. Since it continued to be a very complicated watch to make, only very few left the manufacture every year. To have such a watch even customized to your liking must have been the ultimate luxury, and it makes a rare watch unique.