A Marvel in Design and Craftsmanship

Often called a ‘Grand Complication’, the Perpetual Calendar makes for an intriguing watch, especially when compared to its more affordable sibling, the Annual Calendar. The difference between perpetual and annual calendars is that the annual requires adjustment every year to account for the leap year while the perpetual has been designed specifically to solve this problem. (Sometimes a perpetual calendar will even include the year.) But at first glance, the two complications looks very much the same, both displaying the day, date, and month. So then, what makes the Patek Philippe Ref. 3940 a special watch?

The 3940 Perpetual Calendar is generally considered one of the most important pieces in modern Patek Philippe history and it is the watch Philippe Stern choses to wear every day. It was released alongside the venerable Ref. 3970 in a time when complicated watches were few and far between. A marvel in both design and craftsmanship, the 3940 wears incredibly thin due to its micro-rotor movement and very small but legible case. Patek showed great restraint when designing the watch, creating a masterpiece with a beautiful and classic symmetry to the dial along with a modern and forward-thinking movement. 

Patek Philippe

On May 1st, 1839, Antoine Norbert de Patek, Francois Czapek, and Thomas Moreau founded Patek, Czapek & Cie. Six years later in 1845, Czapek departed the company and started his own brand while Antoine was joined by French watchmaker Adrien Philippe. In 1851, they renamed their joint venture Patek, Philippe & Cie and in 1868, they created the very first Swiss wristwatch, made for the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.

Since its founding, Patek Philippe has made and patented some of the grandest complications in the world. In 1881, they received the patent for the perpetual calendar in pocket watches and in 1902, the patent for the world first double chronograph (or rattrapante). Between 1910 and 1925, Patek Philippe created the Westminster Chime pocket watch, developed a ladies five-minute repeater wristwatch, a double chronograph wristwatch, and a perpetual calendar wristwatch. Everyone from John Lennon, Nelson Mandela, and Pablo Picasso to royalty like the Sultan of Oman have all donned a Patek Philippe timepiece.

Patek Philippe is the last independent, family-owned watchmaker and still operates in Geneva to this very day. The advertising statement “You never actually own a Patek Phillipe. You merely look after it for the next generation” is a true one. Nearly everything they create becomes an instant classic, be it a simple time-only watch from the Calatrava line or a complex Grandmaster Chime. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Patek Phillipe in the annals of watchmaking history and they have the distinction of being the first name in the “Holy Trinity” of watchmakers.

Auction Results Patek Philippe