Many of the watches offered for sale in this catalogue
are pictured with straps made of endangered or
protected animal materials such as alligator or
crocodile. These endangered species straps
are shown for display purposes only and are not for
sale. Christie’s will remove and retain the strap prior
to shipment from the sale site. At some sale sites,
Christie’s may, at its discretion, make the displayed
endangered species strap available to the buyer of the
lot free of charge if collected in person from the sale
site within 1 year of the date of the sale. Please check
with the department for details on a particular lot.
Lots 141 & 142 – Patek Philippe Ref. 3970
In 1986, Patek Philippe launched a new generation of the perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch, designated reference 3970, replacing the hugely successful reference 2499 (see lot 128 in this auction) in production in four different series from 1951 to 1985. The main difference in the movement was the arrival of the new Lemania base ébauche which replaced the Valjoux movement used for the previous 50 years.
Starting with movement number 875'000, the first series of reference 3970 was produced with a solid snap on back, comprising approximately 100 examples. The second series introduced a solid screw back, designated reference 3970E (E for étanche, French for waterproof). A small number of watches from both series were also available with a sapphire crystal back, designated reference 3971E.
In 1989, a third series of ref. 3970 was launched, fitted with a solid screw back as well as an additional sapphire crystal display screw back (see lot 142).
Reference 3970 was discontinued in 2004 and replaced by reference 5970 (see lots 92 - 95 in this auction).
While production of the reference 3970/3971 may have ended only twelve years ago, these modern yet classic perpetual calendar chronographs have become a must-have for the discerning collector of complicated wristwatches.
Reference 3970 and calibre 27-70 Q are illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, pp. 305 – 308, reference 3971 in Patek Philippe Museum - Patek Philippe Watches, Vol. II, p. 307.