With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with silvered dial and raised gold indexes in 1981 and its subsequent sale on 3 September 1981. Furthermore delivered with Patek Philippe presentation box and copy of service quotation letter.
Reference 3450 is the evolution of the automatic perpetual calendar such as an increased bezel size and a differently shaped caseback, but the main evolution lies in the calibre. The new movement, cal. 27-460 QB - Quantième Bissextile - is an upgrade from the previous cal. 27-460Q - Quantième -, and the main new feature is the addition of the display of the current year in the bissextile cycle through a small circular opening to the right of the subsidiary dial.
However, as one can realize at first glance, the present watch lacks this opening. One would be tempted to assume that the dial had been somehow later changed to the current one, but further inspection of the timepiece reveals that is not what happened. In effect, the movement itself is the one usually found on the previous ref. 3448, and the Extract confirms this. A closer inspection reveals that even the case is very different compared to a normal 3450: it is much thinner. This further confirms the thesis that this watch was specifically engineered and designed this way by Patek Philippe.
Ref. 3450 was launched in 1981, the same year of production of the present timepiece: it is most probably part of an exceedingly small, very early prototype production of ref. 3450. As a matter of fact, there is a precedent to such a circumstance. It is the unique ref. 3448 in platinum with the movement and dial configuration of ref. 3450: basically the same but opposite situation of this wristwatch. That timepiece was in May 2013 by Christie's for an outstanding 1.6 million Swiss francs.
That result highlights how rare such transitional pieces are, and how historically important as well: they are nearly unique opportunities to glance "behind the curtain" of Patek Philippe's production and market testing dynamics. The new owner of the present timepiece will be among those exceedingly rare individuals who can rightfully say to possess a cornerstone part of the revered firm's history, furthermore in virtually new-old-stock condition. As a matter of fact, the case is so unmolested that an even patina of oxidation covers the entire watch, granting it a much deeper and more intense color tonality than the usual yellow gold 3450.