With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1961 and its subsequent sale on 15 September 1965.
Patek Philippe's post war production was substantially different from the output during the first half of the 20th century since watches were now made in series, mostly with clearly defined reference numbers. As a consequence, one-offs and special orders became the exception and even models incorporating sophisticated complications were made in larger numbers, sometimes several dozens, sometimes even several hundred examples.
It is however known that in certain instances Patek Philippe manufactured only a handful of pieces, even though they were not special orders and were still given a reference number on their own.
Such is the case with reference 3449, an absolutely unique model both from a mechanical and esthetical point of view. In fact, literature and scholarship confirm that only three pieces of this perpetual calendar wristwatch were ever made, all numbered in sequence.
Whereas the simple perpetual calendar wristwatches from the 1950s were fitted with the centre seconds calibre 27 SCQP and their predecessors with the automatic movement calibre 27-460 QP, this model was equipped with a calibre 23-300 Q. The case was also unique in regard to the sophisticated, multi-facetted bezel design and the elongated angled lugs. The result was an impressive, yet highly elegant design of generous proportions with the masculine diameter of 37 mm.
Today, all the three ever made examples of reference 3449 are accounted for: movement no. 799'001 is since over 20 years one of the star pieces in Patek Philippe's own museum in Geneva where it takes a prominent position in the section dedicated to complicated wristwatches. Movement no. 799'002, last offered at public auction in 2004, is today in a private overseas collection.
The present watch, movement no. 799'000, is not only the first of the series of three but has also been with the same owner for over a decade. Some 50 years after its making, its proportions impress today as much as any other important collector's wristwatch can. In particular, the combination of polished surfaces and satin-finished elements harmonize beautifully and lend it a presence that only few other models can compete with.
It is not known why and for whom these three watches were made - interestingly, their date of manufacture coincides with the expiry of the references 2497 and 2438/1 family but is still some twelve months ahead of reference's 3448 arrival. Consequently, one should rather assume that reference 3449 was an experimental series which was solely intended to test the reaction of Patek Philippe's management and some of their most important clients. It is interesting to note that all the three watches were eventually sold after the successful launch of reference 3448. In the case of movement no. 799'000, it was only in 1965 when Patek Philippe "dismissed" it to its first private owner.
Few complicated Patek Philippe wristwatches are so important and rare witnesses as reference 3449. Not only a gem thanks to its unique movement and case constellation but more importantly, no collector can ever call his collection of perpetual calendar wristwatches complete without this model. Given that one of the three examples ever made is permanently at the Patek Philippe Museum, this privilege is now reserved for only connoisseurs to achieve.