With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in white gold in 1962 and its subsequent sale on 19 July 1962.
The watch offered here for sale is a remarkable example of reference 3428, the heir to the legendary reference 2526 (see lots 66 and 71 in this auction). The main difference between the two models lies in the movement. The new version sports the evolution of revered calibre 12-600AT: calibre 27-460.
Reference 3428 is much less well known than its predecessor reference 2526 in virtue of its rarity: it was in production for only 3 years, from 1963 to 1965. The reason for such a short production span is that the fashion at the time was moving toward flat and extra flat watches, consequently this superb chronometer was soon discontinued. Obviously, even the production output is much more restricted than reference 2526: scholars estimate that the combined total should be little more than 500 examples, mainly in pink and yellow gold, and an exceedingly small amount in platinum and in white gold. Not only the total output is less than for reference 2526, the return to market ratio is also extremely small, compared to the average of Patek Philippe vintage models. For instance, the number of pink gold examples is calculated to be around 100, but only five are publicly known. The white gold version is more rare: it is possible that a total of less than two dozen white references 3428 ever left the firm's workshop, and only three were known from the market. This previously unknown treasure is the fourth to ever make its appearance in an auction room.
Its rarity is only part of its charm. The dial as well is a work of art, as it is full enamel with the outer minute divisions and Patek Philippe signature realized with painted gold dust. Enamel dials are extremely expensive to make, as the production process has a very high risk of damaging the dial, thus forcing the procedure to be started over with a new piece. This is the reason why this charismatic version is scarcely used, reserved for very few references. Historically, automatic time only vintage wristwatches by Patek Philippe are fitted with enamel dials, when white. The tradition inaugurated by reference 2526 is transferred to the new model, with the usual stunning result. The advantage of an enamel dial is not only in terms of durability (if not mistreated, these dials are practically eternal), but also in terms of aesthetics. The translucent appearance of enamel is breathtaking on a dial, and it imparts an illusion of tri-dimensionality and depth to the overall design.