This endangered species strap is shown for display purposes only and is not for sale. The watch will be supplied with a calf leather strap.
Undoubtedly one of the most visually arresting references 3974 ever to be offered at auction, the present watch has been consigned by an important private collector. Carefully looked after as a cherished highlight of the owner’s collection it has not been seen on the open market since it was acquired over 13 years ago.
Furthermore, at the request of the present owner, it has been enhanced with a stunning white dial with Roman numerals. The bold, large black Roman numerals set against the white background gives the timepiece an entirely different and quite incredible new aesthetic. In fact, this watch is very likely to be the only example of a ref. 3974 to be offered in such a combination. Naturally, the original silvered dial as supplied in 2000 has been carefully retained and accompanies the watch.
The reference 3974 is one of the most significant watches ever to be made in series by Patek Philippe, a modern classic epitomizing the strengths and wonderful acoustics that have made the firm’s minute repeaters legendary. The pink gold version is extremely rare, with a maximum of 15 examples ever made, so far only 4 have returned to the open market.
The impressive case of highest quality was made by the famous Geneva casemaker Jean-Pierre Hagmann, his hallmark ‘JPH’ stamped on the back of the lower left-hand lug. Today Jean-Pierre Hagmann is the point of reference for case making and without doubt the most skilled artisan in this field.
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 manufacturers, notably Patek Philippe, to whom he supplied amongst others, cases for references 3974, 3979 and 5029, all models of the firm's ‘Grand Complication’ series.
In September 2019, Jean-Pierre Hagmann joined forces with the young brand AKRIVIA in Geneva. Their partnership unites distinguished artisans of yesterday and tomorrow in pursuit of a common goal – exquisite watchmaking.
Manufactured in very small numbers, the majority in yellow gold, the reference 3974 was produced in 1989 to celebrate Patek Philippe's 150th anniversary. This sought-after timepiece ceased production in 2002 and is regarded today as one of the most desirable minute repeaters of modern production.
The movement of the first model was numbered 1'906'000. The ingenious calibre R 27 Q impresses not only by its remarkable number of 467 parts but also by Patek Philippe's masterly performance of combining a micro-rotor, minute repeating and perpetual calendar mechanisms in a proportionally small 12 1/2''' movement.
The reference 3974 is famously the one important complicated Patek Philippe watch that the grandson of Henry Graves, Reginald ‘Pete’ Fullerton, was unable to obtain. Fullerton’s aim was to collect an example of every Patek Philippe perpetual calendar wristwatch ever made. On 29 August 1988, Fullerton wrote to Patek Philippe:
“I noticed a picture of a wristwatch to be made in 1988 and numbered 3974. Obviously, you are holding out on me. What can you tell me about this little gem? The ghost of Henry Graves, Jr. tells me to look into this matter.”
Reference 3974 is illustrated in: Patek Philippe Watches - Patek Philippe Museum, Vol. II, p. 325, in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, p. 325, and in Blue Book 2 by Eric Tortella, 2019 edition, pp. 595-611.