Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 3970 - The Four Series

The 3970 model was produced from 1986 to 2004 and combines a perpetual calendar with a chronograph complication. This timepiece illustrates the Geneva-based company's watchmaking expertise and is part of the brand's legacy.

Prior to the highly coveted model 2499, the 3970 saw the light of day during complicated times for the Swiss watchmaking industry (especially with the quartz crisis). This collection is a bold move on behalf of Patek Philippe, and is illustrated in this article with different generations, each distinguishable by their dials.

Vintage brochure illustrating the characteristics of the CH 27-70 Q caliber...a real masterpiece!

Despite a relatively high output for such a large complication (19 years in the making), this timepiece is attracting increasing interest from collectors, especially since the price of the Nautilus collection has risen, as it is less rare and is traded at much higher prices.

Available in yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and platinum, the ref. 3970 has a 36MM case, housing a Patek Philippe CH 27-70 Q caliber (inspired by the famous 2310 Lemania caliber).

We can see that the rarest specificities are the ones collectors favor the most. The 3970 series production was increased throughout each successive generation.

The First Series

With just 100 pieces produced exclusively in yellow gold, this is the rarest and most sought-after series. It is distinguishable by its solid "encased" case back, " leaf " hands, baton indexes as well as two-tone sub-dials. For the record, we can also find a model 3971 which was produced at the same time as the 3970 with a sapphire back to admire the caliber. This model was sold in smaller quantities...

Illustration of a dial from a first series 3970

The Second Series

The second series was commercialized from 1987 to 1990. Unlike the first series, the sub-counters are now the same color as the dial. This second series carries model number 3970E (E meaning waterproof) thanks to a full case back which is now screwed on and not simply force-fitted. Like the first series, its indexes are rectangular-shaped.

Illustration of a second series 3970J sold by Phillips auction house

The collector's guide: The first two series were the least produced and therefore are the rarest. These cases are especially sought after by collectors and are hand-finished.

The Third Series

Starting with the first pieces delivered in 1989, the total number of third series units is estimated at 1,350 ( including all metals) and the series ended around 1995. In contrast to the first two series, this generation now comes with two case backs (a sapphire one and a solid one).

The third generation dial is recognizable at first glance, with beveled indexes and straight hands.

The 3970 can also be found with a yellow gold bracelet under model number 3970/002, giving a very elegant touch!
Example of a third series piece

Discover a 3970/002 available at 41Watch

The Fourth Series

The last series was produced from 1994 to 2004. This fourth generation series is identical in every respect to the third except that it is equipped with a folding clasp and produced in approximately 2,000 units.

Illustration of a fourth generation 3970J sold by 41Watch
A watch you don't see every day that is perfectly balanced

Worn : Despite its small size, the watch can be clearly seen and balances out well on your wrist. On leather or gold, the comfort of the bracelet remains the same...

Some perspectives

We can see that the first two series had a smaller production run compared to the last two series.

The 3970 has all the qualities of what Patek Philippe does best (great complications) and has a very promising future as a collector's watch. Having maintained its value over the last ten years, the reference seems to have earned its reputation, as witnessed by its recent successes in auction houses.

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