The name written in Arabic on this dial is Saddam Hussein. Many of the world’s great leaders have worn a Patek Philippe: John F Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, and even the Dalai Lama amongst many others. However, some less-than-ideal heads of state also acquired a taste for the Calatrava cross. Curious, I wonder why this one didn’t make the cut for Geneva’s Patek Philippe Museum?
From the mid-70s until demise, the Saddam regime made a habit of ordering Patek Philippe small runs with the Iraqi Eagle coat of arms and ruler signature. The watches were given by the regime’s highest ranking members as gifts. It does not take an active imagination to suggest that these were likely also used to exert political persuasion in equal measure. Wherever this 3601’s life has taken it, it saw its fair share of Middle Eastern sun. I’ve never seen a dial on this reference so tropically baked. Thankfully, the enamel signatures are unaffected.
In an attempt to separate the esteemed Patek Philippe from this association, I’ll talk a little about the reference itself. The 3601 was a Calatrava made popular in the Middle East. The case is 33mm, here in white gold, with a stepped bezel and snap back. In fact, there’s really little else to note. This particular watch’s entire appeal, if you can call it that, is the signature. The Iraqi Eagle has been found on a wide range of references, most commonly the Ellipse. I have a habit where significant horological history is concerned of saying ‘if only the watch could talk.’ This one, I’m not so sure.
Aside from the dubious origin, the watch itself is in an interesting state. This one was not treasured in a safe. It was worn. The case has likely seen a polish and a good bit of wrist time. That said, no significant bashes. The dial is tropical in an interestingly spotted way, years of UV exposure out and about. It comes with an original presentation box bearing the same signature from a well-regarded Italian retailer.
Find this 3601 Calatrava here from Tempus Orologi listed as POA.