‘Padellone’ 3448/1 Patek Philippe
If you didn’t know watches, you’d probably think being nicknamed ‘frying pan’ was an insult. But when Padellone (the Italian) precedes Patek Philippe, you’re looking at what might just be the most elegant perpetual calendar ever. At the very least, it was the world’s first scaled production, self-wound perpetual calendar. The ref. 3448 was made in 4 series starting 1962 and was produced for 20 years. But the effect it’s had on complicated watching is far greater than its tiny production numbers. This is the watch that brought the perpetual calendar into the 20th century. It’s not hyperbole to state that every one since owes a little something to the lovingly-named Padellone.
The design stemmed from the ref. 1526, but grew to 37.5mm to accommodate the new calibre 27-460Q which not only had a rotor but also Gyromax balance. This size, modest by modern standards, was aggressive at the time and so the nickname stuck. But it’s quite a beautiful frying pan, this dial is just more balanced than the 1526 to my eye. The beauty is absolutely in that linear Day/Month readout, but the extra dial space makes the apertures, moonphase/date, and longer indices feel just right in proportion to each other.
Just 586 Padellones were ever made, in all metals. That’s about 29 per year. Yellow gold is most common, followed by white. Then there a two known rose gold pieces and two known platinum pieces. Early dials are hard enamel and later dials are printed. It still holds the crown for being the longest produced Patek perpetual cal reference. For being the most elegant object you’ll likely lay eyes on today, it strangely reminds me of heavy metal (the music, not chemistry). See, all modern metal from Metallica to System of a Down can trace their influence back to single progenitor: Led Zeppelin. Led Zep’s influence echoed loudly for decades, inspiring thousands of musicians to get a little more experimental, a little more edgy. This is the attitude of the 3448, sure it’s more elegant than Megadeth, but the spirit is that of rogue innovation which has caused the ground to shake for decades following. Long live the frying pan.
This example sports a case with full lugs, deep hallmarks, and strong edges. It’s on an original matching yellow gold Patek Philippe bracelet. It comes with an extract of archive stating production and sale in 1972 and complete of its bracelet. The whole package comes from a well-regarded Italian retailer.
Find this Padellone 3448 here from Bernardini Milano for 220000 EUR.