Since the Christie’s Geneva watch auction is around the corner on November 12th, we decided to go through the catalogue to pick out some highlights for you, watches we think offer great value and are just plain cool. We’re covering a range of offerings from 3K all the way up to above 50K. To kick things off, we decided to start with a watch above 50K. Okay, it’s way above 50K, but it’s too good not to show you.
If ever there was a watch that meets the 4 Q’s every watch collector should consider, this Patek Philippe perpetual calendar Ref. 3450 is it. Coming from a premiere marques, the Ref. 3450 was produced in very limited numbers totaling 244 examples over four years from 1981-1985 when its successor Ref. 3940 was launched. Only two in white gold have appeared to date, and while this example is cased in 18K yellow gold, it’s still a pretty rare bird.
Patek Philippe is held in high regard, especially for their complicated watches, and their perpetual calendars whet the appetites of sophisticated collectors. Why is this? Perpetual calendars demonstrate technical know-how, and are, if the watch is kept wound, one of the truly useful functionalities. But this isn’t the complete story. Patek Philippe stands out in this arena because they take their sweet time. Nobody’s going to rush them to put out a watch until they’re ready—and a new model isn’t forthcoming unless there’s a good reason.
Patek Philippe introduced the Ref. 3450, whose predecessor was Ref. 3448, to showcase the improved 27’460 QB (Quantième Bissextile) calibre. What immediately distinguishes the two models is the presentation of the leap year indication, both situated at 4 o’clock. While the first series used a red disk and Arabic numerals, the second changed to Roman numerals I-IV. There was an overlap in production of the 3448 and 3450 with both discontinued in 1985 when Ref. 3940 made its debut.
Manufactured in 1984, this Ref. 3450 is in exceptionally good condition, and even still has its original factory sticker on the case back. Obviously it’s been babied and probably never worn. You can tell because of the full case proportions and crisp hallmarks.
Provenance on this watch is solid as it’s still paired with its original certificate. Since freshness to market is one of the 4 Q’s we like to look at, this Ref. 3450 gets good marks, having been tucked away for 14 years after is was sold in Christie’s Geneva salesrooms. It’s worth noting that just 10-15 years ago, you could pick up a Ref. 3450 for about 30-50K. Collectors at the time weren’t particularly enamored with the dial layout that placed the perpetual indicator at 4 o’clock. It was the astute person who realized a future classic in the making.
The Ref. 3450 is a must for any Patek Philippe or perpetual calendar collector. If you can get this one at the lower end of the estimate, we say go for it!