Patek’s 3970 has enjoyed one of the sharpest upward trajectories in collectability of anything this side of a Cosmograph in recent years. The rise to appreciation has been a culmination of many factors: scholarship in the form of excellent reference guides such as by A Collected Man and Collectability, greater desirability of what we now call neo-vintage watches, and perhaps most notably an exceptional opinion piece from one Ms. C Barrett in 2018 (we’ve come to expect no less). For discreet complication, there are still today few value buys in haute horlogerie as tantalizing.
Taking over from the 2499 as Patek’s lauded perpetual calendar chrono was never going to be an easy task. Collectors adored its rarity (349 examples), complication, and classic aesthetic. In some sense, it the 3970 was always destined to endure a lull if not outright failure. And a lull it hit, as in 1986 many collectors simply did not care and retailers could not shift them. The 3970 was a marker of Patek’s modern era, a line in the sand for greater production and modern manufacturing techniques. Watch people are, for better or worse, often romantics. Many simply did not want this time to come. Yet, for its then-unpopularity, the 3970 is a landmark reference for Patek in all respects.
The 36mm case (beautifully proportioned, particularly by contrast to the latter 5270’s 41mm) was perfectly judged with stepped lugs and Calatrava cross crown. Moreover, it utilized a movement ébauche as legendary as the come: a Lemania 2310 (2320 specifically) dressed to the 9s, named CH 27-70 Q, and wearing a Geneva Seal. Interestingly, there is a nascent PP collecting community forming around this detail specifically, as in 2009 Patek dropped the Geneva Seal for their own PP seal. Perhaps most importantly, the tachymetre seen on earlier models was removed, allowing for a far cleaner dial impression. This fourth series is distinguished by its production year, baton hands, pointed markers, and sapphire case back. Earlier series are fewer in number and generally more collected, latter 3rd and 4th series are probably the strongest value today. This gorgeous example is ever-so slightly rarer than your standard fourth series for its platinum case and black dial combination, about as stealthy as a perpetual calendar chronograph from Patek is ever going to get.
This example shows only light signs of wear, visible under harsh light only. The lugs appear to be unpolished. It comes with a full set including setting pin from a well-regarded London-based retailer.
Find this 3970P here from Subdial for 145000 GBP.