The white gold reference 3448, a paragon of understated sophistication, is one of the few vintage watches combining with the greatest of ease the charm of past generation watchmaking and the true pleasure of wearing a contemporary self-winding perpetual calendar wristwatch. Its architectural design, great readability and discreet appearance make it an ideal companion, be it for formal or casual occasions. It is therefore by no surprise that it is one of the most coveted collector's wristwatches and considered one of Patek Philippe's ultimate complications.
A very healthy example of the reference, the present example crafted in white gold impresses through its attractive overall condition. Crafted with an integrated 18K white gold bracelet of superb quality, signed Patek Philippe Genève, the wristwatch distinguishes itself through the quality of its white gold case displaying a sharp hallmark to its case back.
A noteworthy fact is its uncommon dial version for the date of manufacture. As standard, reference 3448 can be found with four kinds of dial over the period of its production:
-with enamelled small baton minute divisions (1962 to 1965)
-with beady minute divisions and small date ring (1965 to 1972)
-with beady minute divisions and large date ring (1971 to 1978)
-with printed (not enamelled) small baton minute divisions after 1978
However, the present watch, made in 1974, is fitted with the printed small baton minute divisions version. In isolation, it could be assumed that the dial may be later, possibly changed during a service.
Introduced into the market in 1962, reference 3448 was the first automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch produced in series by any manufacturer.
According to literature, a total of 586 examples were made, the majority in yellow gold cases. Only around 130 were cased in white gold, 2 in platinum and 1 in pink gold are known to exist to date.
Reference 3448 was fitted with the celebrated caliber 27-460, amongst the most sophisticated and lavish automatic movements ever made. It was later upgraded with Patek Philippe's patented perpetual mechanism fitted on the movement plate underneath the dial and renamed 27-460 Q.
This model is the perfect embodiment of a transitional period in the evolution of watchmaking design. Wristwatches had moved from the flamboyant cases and multi-tone sector dials of the 1920s and 1930s, to the military-flavoured creations of the 1940s, with telemetre and tachymetre railroad scales. With the 1950s and 60s a new trend took shape: the technological advances of the time inspired, in all fields of design, futuristic shapes and cleaner looks. This watch perfectly epitomizes such trend: the dial is clean to the extreme, a remarkable feat of design considered that, after all, this is still a perpetual calendar with moon phases and as such the amount of information that the dial has to display is quite abundant. The case is a triumph of clean looks and sharp edges: the circular polished case with flat satin-finished band and generous sloped blank bezel looks decades away from the construction of previous models.
In 1981, reference 3450 was introduced into the market with the improved 27'460 QB (Quantime Bissextile) caliber. The model differs from its predecessor, the 3448, by the modified leap year indication and the eccentric small window to 4 o'clock.
With the launch of reference 3940 in 1985, production of both references 3448 and 3450 was discontinued.
Reference 3448 is illustrated in: Patek Philippe Museum - Patek Philippe Watches - Volume II, p. 296. Patek Philippe Wristwatches, Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, p. 288. Ore d'Oro, Jader Barracca, Giampiero Negretti and Franco Nencini, p. 45.