First Series Patek Philippe 3940J

This is a first series: Genesis. It’s the sort of 3940 that will raise the heart rate of even the most grizzled collectors. The very first 25 went to Beyer and were signed as such, then began the über desirable standard first series. They are solid caseback. Sunken Subs. And no interruption to that perfect symmetry via crosshairs. The 3940 is as much a modern classic as it is possible for a watch to be, entering its golden years of enthusiast appreciation. Those paying very, very close attention, however, often feel the pull of the first series above all others. And it’s hard to argue otherwise.

The first series of 3940 are differentiated by the dial primarily, which have sunken, non-beveled registers for their subdials. These dials were very likely made by Stern Frères and, as lore holds, were considerably more difficult to manufacture than the beveled subdials that came after. Additionally, it is only the first series and early second series that have no crosshair divider in the leap year indication, which some would ague does make for a more cohesive design. The Patek signature is also slightly smaller, leaving more negative space. Research suggests that both in case and dial manufacture, greater hand effort was involved in making the first series; this is the watch that bridged the divide between the Patek Philippe of old and serially produced complication. Estimates for first series production range from 700-1500 examples, where, by contrast, across all series most estimates range from 7000-8000.

Now the obvious question: what kind of premium are we talking for all this rarity, balance, and handcraft? Let’s take the two most recent auctions from Phillips as examples, which were comparable condition complete sets. The late second series hammered around 55K USD, while the first series was just under 75K. That level of premium has been replicated in many results pretty much everywhere. The Beyer dials you can 4X that. And there are premiums for platinum cases or dore dials as well, in fact dore first series are even rarer than the 25 Beyer watches. This is a pretty serious vein of modern Patek collecting, but it deserves to be. These are the bridge from the vintage to modern era, and should be appreciated with same level of weight that people speak the numbers ‘2499’ or even ‘1463’ with. Thee modern classic perpetual calendar Patek Philippe.

This example appears brilliant. The case is full, lightly polished and worn but hallmarks still present. Difficult to see in photography but I do take the retailer’s word for it. Hallmarks are on the left hand case side on first series, flanking the pusher. It comes with its original strap, buckle, and an Extract of Archive from a well-regarded Spanish retailer.