With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with silvered dial, raised gold indexes and tachometer scale in 1944 and its subsequent sale on 8 October 1945. The extract further states that the original case was replaced with the current one during a servicing in the company's workshops in July 1988.
Reference 3651 is undeniably among Patek Philippe's least known and most mysterious models ever made, confirmed by the fact that over a period of more than twenty years only three examples of this ultra-rare chronograph have appeared on the market, including two offered in these salerooms:
Case no. 2'839'142: Christie's Geneva 15 November 2010, lot 109, sold for CHF243,000. Movement made in 1952, case changed during a servicing at Patek Philippe in 1988.
Case No. 2'839'143
Case No. 2'839'144: The present watch. Movement made in 1944, case changed during a servicing at Patek Philippe in 1988. Previously unknown to the market.
Even though reference 1463 is generally viewed as Patek Philippe's only screw back and round pusher simple chronograph wristwatch, reference 3651 clearly belongs into the same category. It is unknown when exactly its production was launched and how many examples were made. However since cases numbers 2'839'142 and 2'839'144 were both changed in 1988 in the workshops of Patek Philippe one can safely date the creation to the late 1980s, age of the revival of complicated mechanical timepieces. Whereas most manufacturers had only just begun reinvesting in skilled craftsmen and machines for the production of complex hand-wound watches, Patek Philippe had kept their talented master watchmakers and tools throughout the quartz years, proven by the existence of references 3448 and 2499. The latter two being perpetual calendar wristwatches it is a fact that no simple chronograph wristwatch had been in their catalogues since the late 1960s.
One may speculate about the reasons behind the creation of reference 3651 in such a small number, possibly a special demand by one of the firm's longstanding clients or a commercial initiative to offer a second "simple" chronograph model in a more modern looking waterproof case but reference 3651 is undeniably the logical successor of reference 1463 which had been in production for nearly three decades. As shown in references 3450 and 2499/100, the 1980s designs were distinguished by more massive and straightforward look, sapphire crystals replacing plexiglass. 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 chronographs or assembled with existing spare parts. As a consequence, the number of reference 3651 chronographs made must have been extremely low. Speculations suggest a total output ranging from as few as three examples to as many as twelve. For two reasons, the latter appears too high, starting with the completely unknown whereabouts of this supposed amount of watches, followed by the fact that the three examples having appeared to date feature succeeding case numbers. It would evidently be too much of a coincidence that the only three references 3651 having appeared in public bear consecutive case numbers, 2'839'142, 2'839'143 and 2'839'144. On the other hand one may suspect that with the appearance of the present watch, the last one of the series, the only three examples of reference 3651 ever made are now all accounted for.
The rarity of the present reference 3651 is further enhanced by its excellent overall condition. Consigned by a private collector and evidently hardly used, it impresses by the full proportions of its massive case and the sharp angles to bezel, lugs and screw back. The oxidation traces testify that it has spent a considerable amount of time locked away and unused. The dial has likewise never been subject to restoration, displaying a great shine and perfectly raised signatures and scales.
The combination of its extraordinary rarity, mysterious history, superb condition, private provenance and freshness to the market render this reference 3651 a "must have" for the collector of exceptional timepieces.