Saturday, April 2, 2011

How I Became Fascinated With Patek Philippe By Jake Ehrlich

How I Became Fascinated With Patek Philippe

My Absolute Obsession with the Patek Philippe 3940 Moonphase

By Jake Ehrlich

When I was 16 years old, I fell in love with the Rolex Submariner, and somehow figured out how to purchase one. At the time, in 1982, when I was 16, I paid $1000 for the Rolex Submariner. When I was 17 years old, I inherited a Patek Philippe wristwatch that belonged to my father. It was a simple Patek Philippe with no complications.

When I was 18 or 19, I was in Robert Johnson Jewelers in San Francisco, and Bob showed my first complicated Patek Philippe Moonphase, and then he pulled out the Patek Philippe catalog. I quickly gravitated toward the Patek Philippe [Reference 3940] Moonphase, and instantly fell in love with it. A year or so later, I got this Patek Philippe brochure for the 3940, which I still have.

Original Patek Philippe Reference 3940 Brochure Pictured Above & Below

The Patek Philippe 3940 pictured on the cover of the brochure (above) is a very early Reference 3940, and you can tell because it has the top two concentric sub-dials, etched around the inner numbers, whereas in all the other photos below, the two top sub-dials, ramp down to a second circular shape. In my opinion, the later versions look much better that the first generation.

At the time, this watch retailed for around $30,000 and you could find a used one for around $20,000, which was way out of my league. A few years later I was looking through a magazine, and I saw a Tiffany & Company ad that featured the Patek 3940, and I cut it out. I still have the Tiffany & Company image which I scanned and you can see it below. I can't tell you how many countless hours I spent starring at this image in absolute awe!!!

I also remember thinking the Patek Phillipe Reference 3940, was the ultimate Gentleman's watch, in the sense that it was THE ULTIMATE watch a man could wear with a suit. Ironically, many years later when I got one, I ended up wearing it much more often with t-shirts, which also looked great...

I remember wanting this watch so badly, and being extremely frustrated that it was so expensive. I remember thinking, "why is it that the one watch I am madly in love with cost at least $20,000!?!?!" I tried so hard to find another dress watch that could fulfill my desire for this watch and finally I just gave up and realized it was the Patek Philippe 3940 or nothing!!!

A few years later, I came across this next image from the Patek Philipp Catalog and I added it to my collection of Patek Philippe Reference 3940 material. I also spent forever and a day starring at this image as well. It had a 36mm case and an unusually thin case–compared to all the complicated Patek Philippe complicated watches that came before it. I remember thinking to myself that it was just so perfect looking.!!!

To make a long story short, it took me 20 years to save up the money to finally purchase a yellow gold Patek Philippe 3940. The next two photos were taken by the person who sold me my Patek Philippe 3940. I remember starring at these two photos for a zillion hours. I am not certain if they are of the same watch taken in different light? The first image looks like the watch might be pink gold?

As I mentioned, I could not stop starring at these images!!! It is interesting to note how different the watch looks in candid photos, versus how it looks in a brochure where the time is always 10 minutes after ten. One of the cool features of the Patek Philippe 3940 is that it has beautiful Dauphin hands that lack a second hand, so they have a very clean look.

Undocumented Business Quarter Feature

When I wore a Patek Philippe Reference 3940 watch, I noticed a feature the watch had which I believe was previously undiscovered or undocumented and I will share it with you.

Notice, on the right sub-dial, in the photo above, running around the outer-edge of the rim, we see the 12 months of the year, with the 6 odd months of the year abbreviated with 3 letters each. In other words, we see JAN, MAR, MAY, JUL, SEP and NOV. The outer-edge month indicator uses the longer black hand to indicate which month you are in.

Notice the inner leap year indicator ring has a circle divided by a "+" into 4 sections. Each of the four sections represent one of the four years that make up the leap year calendar. I believe, if I am recalling correctly, year "4" is the leap year, in which the month of February has 29 days, whereas the other 3 years have 28 days in February. So every fourth February is skipped over and this day is technically known as "leap day" in the "leap year."

Notice the leap-year indicator hand on the right sub-dial is gold. I noticed, or discovered, if you utilize the black month hand, with the 4-section leap year indicator, it will tell you which business quarter you are in!!!

So if you are a business executive, particularly in a larger enterprise, it would be common for you to refer to Q1, Q2, Q3 or Q4. Instead of saying January through March of 2011, you would refer to the same time period as Q1 2011. I believe businesses tend to section the year into quarters to track or measure financial and marketing performance–particularly in a publicly-traded company.

I don't know if I was the first person to notice this undocumented business-quarter feature, but it is interesting and useful.

The next photo below shows the Patek Philippe Reference 3940 movement. Notice how small the winding rotor is? The winding rotor is made from 22kt gold, which, since it is heavy, allows the watch to be easily wound.

I bought the Patek Philippe Reference 3940 pictured above used for $30,000, and it was in like brand-new condition. I wore it for several years, and then sold it for $30,000. Basically, I got to wear it for free. Sometimes I miss it, but I think I got my fill. I remember I used to just stare at it on my wrist. I know that somewhere, I have some wrist shots I took of it, and when I find them I will as one or two to this post.

I remember that when I wore this watch for several years, it was so low-key. Nobody EVER recognized it and said "Oh, you are wearing a Patek Philippe." Not once. As a matter of fact, I never even got one compliment on the watch. This was ironic, because I have owned many Rolex watches, that I always received compliments on, but never with the Patek Phillipe 3940, and that was kind of the beauty of it.

I would walk around with a $5,000 to $25,000 (retail) Rolex on my wrist and everybody would stare at it, and then I would walk around with a $60,000 (retail) Patek Philippe and nobody would ever notice it. I may as well have been wearing a $100 Fossil watch, but in my mind, I knew exactly what it was, and I could never seem to stop starring at it!!!

That is really kind of the beauty of owning a Patek Philippe complicated watch, is that nobody knows what it is, but you do. I recall Patek Philippe once had a slogan that said "Wearing a Patek Philippe not only tell you the time, but it tells you something about yourself" and boy is that true!!!

A New Kid In Town
The Patek Philippe Reference 5140

Patek Phililppe introduced the Reference 3940 Perpetual Calendar in 1985, and discontinued manufacturing the reference in 2006. Patek Philippe replaced the Reference 3940 with the Reference slightly larger 5140.

In particular, the diameter of the case grew to 37mm, and they changed the bezel from a concave bezel to a taller, convex [domed] bezel, as seen in the image below appears courtesy of Paul Boutros. By adding the taller domed bezel, it significantly reduced the exposed crystal edge, which give the new body a much more streamlined profile.

Patek Philippe kept the Caliber 240Q movement and arguably made the watch look worse, by making the font sizes way to large, and they did something really weird with the design of the dates running around the moon-phase indicator.

In other words, they made them larger and various sizes, which in my design mind was a mistake. It almost seems like they made it better and worse at the same time. In my personal opinion, they would have done much better, if they had simply scaled the Reference 3940 up in size. The already busy dial of the Reference 3940, got too busy looking on the Reference 5140, although I reserve all judgement because I have not seen one in person.

This next image compares the Patek Philippe 3940, side by side with its son, the Patek Philippe 5140, and the photo was taken by Mech as part of a story he wrote on the Patek Philippe 5140.

In the comparison shots above and below, notice the 5140 minute marker track is much closer to the outside edge of the dial, and the 5 minute markers are longer, wider and more substantial and masculine looking.

This next comparison shot (below) shows the white gold Patek Philippe Reference 5140 on the left, next to the white gold Patek Philippe Reference 3940, and this image appears courtesy of Paul Boutros.

If you click on this next image below, of the White Gold Patek Philippe 5140 [Reference 5140G] you can see that the top sub-dials also have concentric-circles inside.

As of 2012, Patek Philippe offers the 5140, as seen below, in White, Yellow Gold with silvered dials, and they now offer Rose Gold with a sunburst brown dial, as well as offering a Platinum model with a sunburst blue dial.

If You Enjoy Jake's Patek Philippe World Be Certain To Check Out Jake's Other Blogs: