With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1961 and its subsequent sale on June 21st of the same year. Further accompanied by a Patek Philippe Certificat D'Origine et de Garantie dated June 21, 1961, Receipt of Sale to Mr. A.F. Swirk for the amount of $215 dated June 21, 1961, and Patek Philippe presentation box. Further accompanied by the original packing box the watch was shipped in, from the Patek Philippe Manufacture to Mr. Swirk, with the Geneva Export and US Customs stamps, original Patek Philippe product literature and catalogues, and Patek Philippe booklet on their "Amagnetic" watches. The watch is further accompanied by letters of correspondence between Mr. A.F. Swirk and Patek Philippe regarding a servicing in 1965, and the subsequent Bureau of Customs application form for the watch to be exported to Geneva for the servicing, and importation back to the U.S. after the servicing was completed. Also with an associated stainless steel bracelet.
To the best of our knowledge, the present watch has never been offered at auction before.
Reference 3417 was Patek Philippe's first anti-magnetic wristwatch produced in series, and made in stainless steel only. It was produced starting in 1958, first with the caliber 12'''400, and beginning in 1960 with the caliber 27-AM400 through the end of production in the late 1960's. According to product literature, Patek Philippe submitted their "Amagnetic" watches to a series of tests by placing the watch between two poles of very strong electromagnets. They determined that in magnetic fields of up to 450 oersteds, the watch in not affected. For reference, the average magnetic field around home appliances (at that time) such as televisions, is less than 100 oersteds. They also determined that it would take a magnetic field of 1200 oersted to stop the "Amagnetic" watch, and outside of such a field, the watch will run again and will gain approximately 30 seconds in 24 hours. A process of demagnetizing will eliminate this gain. At the time of production, Patek Philippe offered on special request a movement that would be manufactured with a double shielding, to offer additional protection against strong magnetic fields. The base price of a reference 3417 cost 820 Swiss Francs in 1959, and the other anti-magnetic model in production at the time, the reference 2570, offered in 18k yellow gold, retailed for 1335 Swiss Francs.
The present watch is an exceptional example of a reference 3417, in excellent condition, featuring sharp angular lug facets. The accompanying documentation, from the original certificate to the Customs forms and correspondence with the manufacture, make this example a piece of horological history, to be appreciated by even the most seasoned watch collector.
A.F. Swirk, Chief Warrant Officer U.S. Navy, Retired
Adalbert F. Swirk was born in 1923 in Ware, Massachusetts and attended the Naval Stenography School in San Diego, CA, followed by the Naval Intelligence School in Washington, D.C. He went on to join the Navy in 1942, and served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He retired a Navy Commissioned Warrant Officer, and returned to Ware and worked at the Country Bank for Savings for 32 years as a Purchasing Agent. In the midst of his career with the Navy, Mr. Swirk purchased his Patek Philippe watch.
In one of the accompanying letters, dated September 29, 1965, Mr. Swirk writes to Patek Philippe, stating that he purchased this present watch on June 21, 1961, at a Patek Philippe store while he was with the U.S. Armed Forces in Paris, France. He further states that at that point, he had never actually worn the watch since purchasing it, and would like to start - but would like to send it to the manufacture first, for a "check-up". On October 7th, he received a letter from Patek Philippe, recommending he pack and ship the watch to their offices in Geneva, and advising him to ask for a "re-entry permit" from U.S. Customs, a form that could be acquired from his local Post Office, which would allow for trouble-free re-importation of the watch following the servicing. Upon receiving the watch, they would examine it and send an estimate of the charges. For a routine servicing, he could expect the watch to be returned after five weeks. The next letter is dated October 12th, from Swirk to Patek Philippe, and addresses a few issues he had encountered. The specific form he had been advised to fill out could only be found at the U.S. Customs office, which was not near his town. Furthermore, he would have to bring the watch to the Customs office for it to be wrapped and sent in the presence of a U.S. Customs Agent. Mr. Swirk complied with their instructions, and stated that the watch was on it's way to Geneva, and suggested that for future guidance and for their other valued customers, they should recommend clients reach out directly to the U.S. Customs Office.
The next letter from Patek Philippe is dated October 20th and states that his watch was received, and the cost of servicing would be approximately 70 Swiss Francs, plus the cost of 15 Swiss Francs (or $20 U.S. Dollars) for shipping and insurance back to the U.S. On October 25th, Swirk sent a letter back with a check for $20, and while the watch is accompanied by a copy of this $20 check, there is no correspondence or check copy for the remaining balance. There is however, a letter dated November 16th, from Patek Philippe acknowledging receipt of the $20 check, followed by another letter dated November 27th, stating that the balance had been paid, and the watch would be sent out on that date back to Mr. Swirk.
With all of the correspondence are both the original Customs form that Mr. Swirk filled out, as well as the Geneva Customs Declaration form for re-importing the watch back to the U.S. One can assume that after receiving his watch from being serviced, Mr. Swirk went on to wear and enjoy his watch. Following his retirement, in addition to his job at the Country Bank for Savings, Mr. Swirk gave back to his community through his position as the Chairman of the Catholic Charities at his local parish, and was a longtime member of his local branch of the Order of Elks, the Chicopee Elks Club No. 1849. Mr. Swirk passed away in 2012.
Mr. Swirk obviously cared greatly for his watch, as shown by it's excellent and original condition. Both the novice and experienced collector will appreciate not just the watch itself, but all of the history that accompanies this extraordinary watch.