This model is frequently referred to as 'Ref. 3970 First Series', with the later variations (Ref. 3970E) subsequently numbered second through fourth.
According to our research, it is believed that approximately 100 examples of the snap back Ref. 3970 were made, starting with movement number 875000. Of those, the present example is one of fewer than 20 examples to appear at auction. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time the present example has been offered at auction.
The model was created following the success of the exceptional and iconic Ref. 2499. One main difference between the two models is the addition of the leap year indicator to the 3 o'clock subsidiary dial and 24-hour indicator to the 9 o'clock subsidiary dial. The general design of the case of Ref. 3970, with its snap back and downturned, fluted lugs, is clearly influenced by the form of Ref. 2499.
As Ref. 3970 was well-received for its combination of chronograph and perpetual calendar complications, Patek Philippe responded by increasing its production run for the various series of the 3970E. As such, examples of the Ref. 3970, such as the present model, are significantly more rare and less frequently seen at auction.
This reference is illustrated in Huber, M. & Banbery, A., Patek Philippe Watches, Vol. 2, Second Edition, pp. 305.
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