There are special watches and then there's this ultra rare and legendary Patek Philippe Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar ref. 3974R in 18K rose gold. This is for sure, one of the most coveted minute repeaters in the world and one that was only produced in very small quantities by Patek Philippe between 1989 and 2000. Released in 1989 to mark the 150th anniversary of Patek Philippe and the relaunch of their wrist minute repeater, the reference 3974 brings two of the most noble horological complications to the table: a minute repeater and a perpetual calendar.
With a case in 18K rose gold measuring 36 mm in diameter and 12 mm in thickness, the ref. 3974R is one that you'll rarely run into during your lifetime. A real tribute to fine horology and a rare bird in its own league, the Patek Philippe ref. 3974R is considered a 'watch collecting grail' by anyone that deems to call himself/herself seasoned watch collectors. Not only this is a watch that only a few will ever get to see in the metal, but also one that only a handful of watch collectors could ever dream of owning —some scholars state that Patek Philippe only made six pieces in 18K rose gold during the short period of time when this watch was scarcely produced.
The Patek Philippe ref. 3974R features a solid gold silvered dial with applied markers, applied gold cabochon minute track and dauphine hands. The dial layout is pure Patek DNA with a subdial at 3 o’clock for the month and leap-year; a subdial at 6 to indicate the date and moon phases and a subdial at 9 o'clock for the day of the week with day/night indicator. Now, one of the most unique features of this dial, is the two-tone subdial at 9 o'clock that shows a shaded area between “18” and “6” to represent night time. A feature rarely seen on other Patek Philippe dials.
The stepped case made by Jean-Pierre Hagmann —master case maker for Patek Philippe until the release of the reference 3974 and known to have made most of the minute repeater cases for the manufacture— features an immaculate finish and correctors for the perpetual calendar located in between the lugs —with the exception of one of them located near the top left lug. As expected, the second solid case back supplied with this watch and the back of one of the lugs are marked with Hagmann's initials 'JHP'. Today, Hagmman is considered to be one of the most important watch case makers that has ever lived.
One of the many reasons why the 18k rose gold version of the Patek Philippe Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar ref. 3974 is so special —outside of the limited number of pieces ever produced—, is the innate ability of this metal to amplify the sound of the chimes from the minute repeater, thanks to the copper used in the 18K rose gold alloy. Additionally, rose gold minute repeaters have been traditionally reserved for the best customers of the brand. The reference 3974 was produced in 18K yellow gold, 18K white gold, 18K rose gold and platinum; however, it is know that the platinum and 18K rose gold versions of the Patek Philippe ref. 3974 are the most coveted of them all.
This legendary Patek Philippe ref. 3974R is powered by the Patek Philippe automatic movement calibre R 27 Q. This calibre composed of 467 parts and 39 jewels, features a 22k gold micro-rotor with à grains d'orge —barleycorn— hand guilloché decoration. The minute repeater’s hammer and gongs can be seen through the display case back and the movement also features a solid gold skeletonized Calatrava cross on one of the bridges.
On the wrist, this is exactly what watch collecting stands for and what watch dreams are made of. Being able to peruse and wear one of the most legendary minute repeaters of all time —at least for a few minutes— comes with a feeling that is simply inexplicable. When you are a passionate watch collector turned into watch journalist, there aren't enough words to express the emotions that come with strapping on to your wrist, a timepiece of this caliber.
Approximate Sticker Price $750,000-1,000,000 USD. For more info on Patek Philippe click here.