First Series Beyer 3940J Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar
Patek’s 3940 was released unto the world during troubled times as a bold step toward the modern era. When Philippe Stern chose to celebrate mechanical complication at the dawn of Patek’s future, he did so with the help of his close friend, Theodore Beyer. If you’re past a certain point of watch obsession, you’ll be familiar with Swiss retailer Beyer. Hell, you may have even purchased a watch or two from René. Beyer signatures are undoubtedly amongst the most coveted and collected retailer stamps out there. This is not only for their legacy, but Beyer are a watch-first business (as opposed to Tiffany or even Cartier). Among the most watch obsessed, Beyer commands weight. And to put it simply, there is no more fierce heavyweight that the first series, 25-example, Beyer-signed 3940.
See, the 3940 ran from that tenuous introduction in 1985 to an official discontinuation in 2007 as a legend. The immensely impressive complicated reference was a statement: mechanical watchmaking is here to stay. Philippe Stern chose a 3940 as his personal watch not unthinkingly. He had created an ultra-thin perpetual calendar that would not need to be adjusted for over 100 years from the ashes. The micro-rotor calibre 240/114 (indicating NOS movement, more on that later) was just 3.75mm tall while retaining chronometric specification and a 48 hour power reserve. There was a lot of engineering that went into that. As an example, to maintain that specification and reserve, friction needed reducing. Patek eliminated the rotor inverter system and engineered a new gear tooth shape while polishing it differently to avoid frictional losses. The movement is still in production today, decades on.
Beyer and Stern’s relationship goes back generations; the most established watchmaker dynasty and most established retailer dynasty have always been amicable. In a recently Collectability interview, René Beyer spoke briefly about this history. After graduating, he apprenticed in Patek Philippe and Thierry Stern apprenticed in Beyer. Their parents had done the same. This is a romantic brand legacy. The 3940 happened to be launched right around Beyer’s 225th anniversary. The stars aligned, and so the first-ever 25 examples of the reference 3940 were delivered with Beyer signatures, to Beyer themselves. Examples 1-15 with a German calendar, the 16-25 with an English calendar. All were hewn from yellow gold with a slightly pinkish gilt dial. Example numbering was executed in cursive, a rare artistic touch from the austere Swiss. On-dial numbering almost never occurs within the Patek church outside of tourbillons. The number here has been removed from images for obvious reasons. As I’ve said, the world was only ever gifted just 25 of these momentous steps forward.
This example is spectacular. It is an English calendar with a perfect dial. The case is full, everything proud. It comes with its original Beyer-signed box, pusher, invoice from Beyer, certificate of origin, and other paperwork from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Beyer 3940J here from Watch4moi for 320000 USD.