Consigned by the granddaughter of the original owner the present reference 3448 is without doubt one of the best and rarest examples of this landmark reference in white gold to be offered in public in recent years: indeed, it is believed that only five other white gold references 3448 with white gold bracelet confirmed by the Extract from the Archives have appeared in public to date.
Not worn for decades and evidently always treated with care and respect the full case impresses with perfectly preserved sharp edges to top and bottom of the lugs, crisp gold marks underneath the lugs and the pristine condition of the small steps to the bezel. The charismatic dial is just as remarkable: in unspoiled condition, without the slightest trace of either intervention or degradation, the hard enamel signatures and scales beautifully raised as one would except. Over the years, a most charismatic, uniform ivory-colored patina has accumulated, lending it the ultimate touch of vintage - subtle signs of natural ageing one would expect on a wristwatch which, for so many years, was exposed to the elements.
The Extract from the Archives confirms that the present ref. 3448 was sold with a detachable white gold bracelet which must have been the request of the original owner while purchasing his treasure in 1969. As not any bracelet is suitable for the model, not only for the size but most importantly because of the openings to both ends required to access the calendar correctors in the band, one can safely assume that the present Gay Frères one is in fact that bracelet.
The first owner of the watch and grandfather of the present owner was a renowned ophthalmologist practicing for 45 years and serving also as research associate and consultant. He retired in 1974 as an associate professor and passed away after a long and fulfilled life at the age of 94 in 1997. The meaning of the small metal calendar clip attached to the bracelet of his ref. 3448 remains a mystery: stamped with the name of a pharmaceutical company producing eye drops and dated 1969 it is however related to both his profession and the year of purchase of his watch, adding a personal touch to this superb timepiece.
Reference 3448, introduced into the market in 1962, was at the time the first self-winding perpetual calendar wristwatch. According to literature, a total of 586 examples were made, the majority in yellow gold cases. Only around 130 were cased in white gold, 2 in platinum and 1 in pink gold are known to exist to date.
Reference 3448 was fitted with the celebrated caliber 27-460, amongst the most sophisticated and lavish automatic movements ever made. It was later upgraded with Patek Philippe's patented perpetual mechanism fitted on the movement plate underneath the dial and renamed 27-460 Q.
Reference 3448 was available with four different dial styles:
-enameled small baton minute divisions from 1962 to circa 1965
-beady minute divisions and small date ring, such as the present example: 1965 to circa 1973
-beady minute divisions and large date ring: 1971 to circa 1978
-printed, not enameled small baton minute divisions: after 1978
In 1981, reference 3450 was introduced into the market with the improved 27'460 QB (Quantime Bissextile) caliber. The model differs from its predecessor by the modified leap year indication, the eccentric small window to 4 o'clock.
With the launch of reference 3940 in 1985, production of both references 3448 and 3450 was discontinued.
Reference 3448 is illustrated in Patek Philippe Museum - Patek Philippe Watches - Volume II, p. 296, in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, p. 288, and in Ore d'Oro by Jader Barracca, Giampiero Negretti and Franco Nencini, p. 45.