The present 3974J is preserved in excellent overall condition. The impressive case of highest quality supplied by the famous casemaker Jean-Pierre Hagmann of Geneva, his hallmark JPH stamped underneath the lower left lug.
Originally trained as a jeweller, Jean-Pierre Hagmann set up his own company in 1984, specializing in the manufacture of custom-made high quality watch cases. He worked for several of the world's most famous watch manufactures, notably Patek Philippe, to whom he supplied amongst others, cases for references 3974, 3979, 5016 and 5029, all models of the firm's "Grand Complication" series.
One of the most important watches ever made in series by Patek Philippe, reference 3974 was launched in 1989 to celebrate Patek Philippe's 150th anniversary, at the time not only the firm's but also the world's most complicated wristwatch. The very first movement was numbered 1'906'000.
Research has revealed that only around 160 examples of ref. 3974 were ever made, the majority in yellow gold.
The ingenious calibre 27 RQ impresses not only by its remarkable number of 467 parts but also by Patek Philippe's masterly performance of combining a 22K micro-rotor, minute repeating, perpetual calendar, 24-hour indication and phases of the moon mechanisms in a proportionally small 12 1/2''' movement.
The cases of the early examples were made by Jean-Pierre Hagmann, the very first ones, such as the present, bearing his hallmark. Later series were fitted with Atéliers Réunis cases.
Reference 3974 has become a modern classic epitomizing the strengths and wonderful acoustics of Patek Philippe minute repeaters. This sought-after reference ceased production in 2000 and is regarded as one of the most desirable minute repeating wristwatches of modern production.
Reference 3974 is illustrated in Patek Philippe Watches - Patek Philippe Museum, Vol. II, p. 325, and in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, p. 325.