This model, Ref. 3448, was launched in 1962. At that time, it was the only automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch on the market. Ref. 3448 underwent four main evolutions, each introducing a new variation on the design. The present example belongs to the final evolution, which is distinguished by its sapphire crystal and higher bezel built to accommodate it. Connoisseurs seeking the finest specimens of this model invariably look to the condition of the case. Ref. 3448 bears the distinction of a singular case design, which is substantial in its size and strikingly angular in its shape. Over decades of wear and use, many of the cases are polished, causing the sharp edges of the bezel to wear down, and the lugs to become rounded and even to shorten from their original length. The present lot has escaped that unfortunate fate and presents itself in all its angular, sharp-lined glory. The model was ultimately succeeded by Ref. 3450, produced from 1981 to 1985, which included the leap year indication and some more subtle differences.
It is interesting to note the very small quantity of watches made in white gold in this reference. Only 130 pieces were made in total over the 20 year production period, meaning roughly 5 examples were made each year. As such, Patek Philippe's technicians were able to pay the utmost attention to each piece. One mark of the artistry that went into Ref. 3448 is the moon phase sector. Each plate is made in solid gold, hand-enamelled in translucent blue, fired at high temperatures, and polished so that the gold stars and moon shine. As a result, each plate bears slight variations from the next in the placement of the stars and tones of blue, and is one of the most strikingly attractive features of this exceptional and rare model.
For a discussion of Ref. 3448 and other examples, see Reardon, J., Patek Philippe in America, pp. 232-33. For a similar model, see Huber, M. & Banbery, A., Patek Philippe Wristwatches, Vol. 2, pp. 288-289.