With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with raised gold hour markers in 1952 and its subsequent sale on 4 December 1952. The Extract further states that the original case was replaced with the current one during a servicing in the company's workshops in 1988.
Even to thoroughbred collectors, reference 3651 is virtually unknown and provokes amazement when described to them as the "ultra rare round pusher Patek Philippe 1980s chronograph". Such situations come by no surprise since it has been for over two decades that no example of this reference has come to the public market.
In fact, scholarship and literature present reference 1463 as the only screw back and round pusher Patek Philippe simple chronograph. However, reference 3651 should be mentioned simultaneously. It is unclear when production started and how many pieces were ever made but research indicates that it was manufactured around 1985, at a time when references 3450 and 2499/100 were replaced by references 3940 and 3970 respectively. During that era, complicated mechanical watches were starting to enjoy their renaissance and most manufacturers were only about to once more invest in talent and machines for complex hand-wound watches. Patek Philippe, however, had carried through the "quartz decade" its gifted master watchmakers and tools, proven by the existence of references 3448 and 2499. As the latter were both perpetual calendar wristwatches, it is a consequence that no simple chronograph wristwatch had been in their catalogues since the late 1960s.
It appears that for their most discerning and loyal clientele, Patek Philippe had something to offer for those seeking to purchase a simple chronograph: reference 3651. In many ways this model was a logical successor of reference 1463 which had been in production for nearly three decades. Like references 3450 and 2499/100, the 1980s designs were less filigree, the cases more massive, plexiglass was replaced by sapphire crystals, and the case proportions became more straightforward. Interestingly, since production of the "simple" 13 lignes movement had ceased decades earlier, Patek Philippe had to use movements of existing watches made in the 1940s and 50s, either provided by customers wishing to upgrade their used chronographs or assembled with existing spare parts.
Given this highly unusual genesis it comes by hardly any surprise that production numbers were extremely low. Specialists speculate that the total production run for this model could be as little as three pieces only or as much as twelve. The latter sounds a little too generous for two reasons, one being the completely unknown whereabouts of this suspected quantity, and two the sheer coincidence that the only other known example offered at auction was case number 2'839'143, the succeeding number to the present watch. It does not need vast fantasy and extraordinary skills in probability calculation to swiftly conclude that it would be too much of a coincidence that the only two references 3651 to return to the auction market happen to have consecutive case numbers.
The present watch displays virtually no signs of wear but instead the very popular oxidation proving its lack of use. The dial, free of restoration, impresses with all signatures and scales in perfectly raised hard enamel. The movement appears to have never been disassembled since leaving Patek Philippe's workshops in the 1980s.
With its winning look, utter rarity, "as good as it can get" condition and complete freshness to the auction market, the present reference 3651 would immediately take a prominent position in any international watch collection.