You're not a real watch nerd if you don't know at least a few Patek Philippe references. (And for those of you who aren't, a "reference" is a watch's model number.) Here are some famous ones: the ref. 1518 that started the entire genre of the perpetual calendar chronograph, the ref. 3940 perpetual calendar that owner and CEO Philippe Stern himself wore for decades, and the classic ref. 130 chronograph. But one that the real die-hards go crazy for is the ref. 3450 perpetual calendar, a more minimal take on the style that actually added functionality while dialing back the clutter.
First off, the ref. 3450 is a really rare watch. Fewer than 250 of them were made, all of them between 1981 and 1985. That's not a very long production run when you consider many Patek references were made for 20 or 30 years without any alterations. At 37mm across (but still very thin), the 3450 was large for the era and the surplus of white space on the dial makes it look even larger. It's a beauty and, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of Patek's purest and best designs. It's similar to the earlier 3448, but with a little leap year indicator at 3:30. Normally I'd prefer the cleaner option, but the leap year window is sort of off-beat and charming.
This watch dates to the end of the production period, around 1985, and has an extra feature that makes it even more collectable. Inside the date and moonphase display at 6 o'clock there's a second signature, "Beyer." This watch was originally sold through the famous Zurich retailer, which Patek authorized to add its own name to the watches sold there.
The condition of this watch is also important. It's immaculate. You can look at the edges of the case and see how sharp they are without even having to run your finger along them. The gold hallmark (one of the first things to wear off) is still visible and the caseback still has the stark contrast between the brushed flat part and the polished curves. The watch is like a time capsule from 30 years ago.
While 3450s do come up for auction more often than you might think, finding one in good condition can be difficult. The soft yellow gold tended to not wear as well as some other metals (especially steel) and many of them were polished or retouched over the years. This watch also comes with the archive extract from Patek Philippe certifying the serial number, dates. and details.
This Patek Philippe ref. 3450 perpetual calendar is available from Matthew Bain Inc. for $285,000.