When John Reardon states that ‘for the price, there is arguably no other watch that encapsulates all that defines Patek Philippe’, you listen. In gross understatement, the man knows Patek Philippe. Further, when nearly every notable collector starts referring to the 3940 as Patek’s quintessential calendar, you know we are at the outset of a groundswell. Increasingly, collectors are seeing the 3940 as Patek’s bold first step toward the modern era. The perpetual calendar was released in 1985, when many were still reeling from the ticking seconds hand. Rather than be sparing, Patek’s audacious first step was exemplary for its decidedly traditional approach, elegant complication execution, and serial production volume. This 3940, however, is exemplary for different reasons entirely . . .and there was no production volume.
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.
This 3940, however, hails from 2018, a full eleven years after ceased production. So what gives? Shortly after the manufacture’s 175th anniversary, Patek gave VVIPs an opportunity to order from a sort of ‘Greatest Hits’ album, never publicly offered. For the 5070 and 3940 references (and likely others we don’t know about): Patek’s best clients could order a blue dial in platinum, brown dial in yellow gold, and a salmon dial for the white gold. All were given a nod toward PP history in a traditional leaf handset. There were small additional modern charms like a larger signature, thicker fonts, and a squashed 27 & 5 on the date display. Only two of these blue dial and platinum affairs have ever surfaced in media or the market so far. Rarity in neo-vintage doesn’t come much more exclusive. Think of it like a Tiffany blue 5711, but for people who know what they’re doing.
This example is near perfect. I mean its strap shows little to no wear, let alone the case. Nothing is out of place. Just stare at it for long enough, you’ll see what I mean. It comes with all the stamps and papers from a small, very well-regarded English retailer.
Find this blue 3940P here from MJ Gillan Ltd (@mjgillan by DM on Instagram) listed as POA.