3450 Patek Philippe ‘Padellone’
Yesterday, in an airport lounge, I spotted what I think was a Massa RM 011. What I’m about to say is not morally justifiable. Whenever I see someone over the age of 25 wearing an RM, I don’t think ‘Nice watch, I’m sure they love it.’ And that’s what I want my mind to do. Instead I think, ‘I’m sure they’ll grow up soon.’ I hate this, because the only thing that should matter about a watch is that you love it. And RM have made many genuinely interesting innovations like the declutchable rotor in the 030. But when brightly colored plastic that looks like transformer ejaculated inside, which has been advertised ostentatiously to include its list price so everyone knows what you paid, is the same kind of value as this, questions must be asked. In a parlance RM wearers will understand, questions like ‘WTF, dude?’
If one had to rank the sexiest cases ever, somewhere in my top five would be a Padellone. The dial proportions are as expansive as it is expensive, its lugs more sculpted than Emily Ratajkowski. Early complicated Pateks have a way of feeling so perfectly simple. But this isn’t the earliest 3448 Padellone, it’s the overlooked vintage middle child. If you haven’t heard of the 3450, that’s easily forgiven, the early years of any Patek model are often confusing. It was made for a comparably small five years in just 244 examples staring ’81. That is far tinier than the 3448’s 586 examples or estimated 7,000 example 3940 production.
Patek Phillipe’s 3448 Padellone wasn’t just the first watch to be nicknamed after a cookware (padellone is Italian for frying pan), it was the world’s first production automatic perpetual calendar. This is the difficult second album. The 3448 was a massive success, in production for 20 years and truly revolution. How do you follow that up? This. The 3450 is the opposite of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, it’s the follow-up that was just more of the same brilliance. The only difference you’ll notice when on wrist is that this dial sports a leap year indication just under 3. The 3450 comes in two series. In the first 1 to 3 are Arabics, in the second series they’re Romans. The leap year itself is always bright red. On the back, its snap caseback now included a lip for easier removal. These are the only real differences. And that’s all you need. Patek had the wisdom to leave perfection be, not to make new for new’s sake alone. Something we could all learn from.
This example sports full lugs, with only a light polish to the tops if I had to guess. Engravings on side are deep. Its dial is clear of major damage, just a bit of age starting to show outside the minute track and between the 11-12 marker. It’s coming up for auction this may and will almost certainly exceed the top estimate.