Patek Philippe 1938: A Tribute To Philippe Stern

Written by:Andrea David|
9 minutes

In honor of the 85th birthday of Patek Philippe’s honorary chairman (Philippe Stern), the maison decided to pay tribute to him with an entirely new and exclusive watch.

This is the Patek Philippe 1938P, a timepiece created by the Geneva-based house inside which we find enclosed one of Philippe Stern’s all-time favorite complications: the minute repeater.

Let us now go inside this article to find out all the details of the watch dedicated to one of the most important people in the brand’s history.

A minute repetition as a symbol of homage

Patek Philippe 1938P

When we talk about complications we undoubtedly enter that part of watchmaking that is as fascinating as it is technically complex. From chronographs to perpetual calendars, complications have always had a central place in the world of hands and in the hearts of enthusiasts since the beginning of watchmaking history. Indeed, it is that extra bit of fascination bestowed by skilled watchmakers who have been able to encapsulate, in a “simple watch,” that extra something capable of making every collector’s heart beat faster.

And that is exactly what I personally experience when I am confronted with, or rather hear, a minute repeater marked by a fascinating timepiece. It is in fact one of the most beautiful complications ever, in my opinion, capable of making one perceive the beauty of the world of watchmaking even through hearing. Developed and used by several watchmaking houses, this complication currently holds a special place within Patek Philippe thanks mainly to Philippe Stern.

Patek Philippe 3974
Patek Philippe 3974, the reference with which Patek Philippe’s minute repeater returned in 1989 – Credits: Collector Square

È stato lui a segnare il ritorno della ripetizione minuti all’interno di un orologio da polso nel 1989, in occasione del 150° anniversario della manifattura, con il lancio del celebre calibro R 27. Oggi, il figlio Thierry Stern, attuale presidente della maison e quarto discendente della famiglia, ha deciso di rendere omaggio al padre in occasione del suo 85° compleanno presentando un modello interamente dedicato a lui.

As already reiterated, Philippe Stern being a lover of the minuiti repeater and, more importantly, the man who resurrected such a complication, the choice for such a celebration fell on creating a timepiece with such a complication. To do so, however, the maison wanted to go further by going on to create an entirely unique complication, namely a minuiti repeater alarm.

Il nuovo Patek Philippe 1938

Patek Philippe 1938P

This new timepiece from the house of Patek, with a dedicated reference, the 1938, i.e., the year of honorary president Philippe Stern’s birth, has several quite unique and celebratory features. Starting with the complication enclosed in it, in addition to the “traditional” minute repeater, we find an alarm that sounds the preset time.

Integrating such a function proved to be a task that was not entirely easy for the house’s engineers, who had to entirely redesign the minute repeater mechanism so that the alarm system could be included.

Patek Philippe 1938P
From this picture you can see the left side of the case above which is the ringer slider

The result was a system that allows the minute repeater and alarm to be played on the same two classical gongs by means of the slider system located on the case in the left side.

In fact, thanks to this “slide” it is possible to operate the minute repeater that can instantly ring the time shown on the dial, as well as pause the chime until the preselected time in the alarm mode.

corona del Patek Philippe 1938P

By means of the button on the crown at 3 o’clock, on the other hand, the chime mode can be selected. Whenever you go to change the latter, the bell present at 3 o’clock on the dial will change its color.

quadrante del Patek Philippe 1938P

When the minute repeater mode will be activated, the bell will be black and, in this case, by activating the slide on the left side of the case it will be possible to hear the time indicated on the dial by the white gold Breguet hands. By pressing the crown button one more time, the bell at 3 o’clock on the dial will instead turn red going to indicate the activation of the alarm mode.

Movimento del Patek Philippe 1938P
Front part of the movement above which can be seen the chime selection indicator wheel

To activate its function, it will also be necessary to operate the case slider, which will “wind” the chime and cause the bell to change from red to white. Once this mode is activated, the watch will go off automatically the moment the hour hand is at the Breguet rose gold hand indicating the alarm time.

In addition, once such a system is activated and before the watch chimes, it will always be possible to return to minute repeater mode by pressing the crown button without the chime engaging.

quadrante del Patek Philippe 1938P

Osservando il quadrante in oro 18 carati dell’orologio, oltre all’indicatore a campana nella parte destra, è possibile notare a sinistra il ritratto di Philippe Stern realizzato con la tecnica della pittura miniata su smalto bianco e grigio, su sfondo di smalto nero Grand Feu.

A completare il design del quadrante e in perfetto abbinamento alle sfere, troviamo le cifre stile “Breguet” applicate in oro bianco 18 carati racchiuse dalla minuteria chemin de fer.

All’esterno di quest’ultima, invece, è possibile notare la scala dei quarti d’ora per l’allarme spolverata d’oro rosa.

Patek Philippe 1938P

Finally, at 6 o’clock, the small continuous seconds counter stands out above the “Email” inscription indicating the making of the enamel dial.

Turning to the fully hand-polished 41 mm platinum case, it too, with its straight lugs and screwed bars, recalls one of Philippe Stern’s all-time favorite creations, namely Ref. 3960 inspired by early 20th century wristwatches.

Indicating the use of one of the most precious materials ever, we find, as usual, a brilliant-cut diamond set on the case at six o’clock.

Engraved case back of the new Patek Philippe 1938P

Through the sapphire crystal case back, protected by a hand-engraved cuvette bearing “À mon père, 85 ans de passion horlogère” (To my father, 85 years of watchmaking passion), it is possible to admire Caliber R AL 27 PS. This is a self-winding movement whose innovations encapsulated in it have resulted in the filing of four new patents.

Patek Philippe 1938P caseback inciso e firma sul bilanciere

In addition to the careful finishing of the caliber, one can also observe the rhodium-plated 22-karat yellow gold mini-rotor with Philippe Stern’s signature engraved above it. Given the importance and exclusivity of this timepiece, Patek Philippe itself has specified that it is a caliber designed and produced exclusively for this tribute watch and will never be used on any other future creation.

fibbia Patek Philippe 1938P

Complementing the design of the watch is a shiny black alligator strap with a platinum déployantin clasp.

Our thoughts

Although this watch has just been unveiled, it certainly cannot be said to have been exempt from unanimous opinions. As much as one may or may not like the aesthetic side of it, one certainly cannot say that one is not in the presence of one of the most mechanically fascinating watches ever with a very clear meaning at its core: the relationship between a father and a son.

With this watch, in fact, Thierry Stern wanted to pay tribute to his father by showing him how strong a bond can be between parent and son and, in this case, crowning it with a passion that has always bound them together. With the creation of this timepiece, Patek Philippe has undoubtedly introduced a watch that will represent one of the maison’s most important objects ever and will be a source of research for all collectors of the brand.

Price and availability

The new Patek Philippe 1938 will be limited to a total of 30 pieces worldwide and will be sold at a list price of CHF 890,000, corresponding to approximately EUR 927,000

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Born in 1994, since he was four always with a watch on his wrist. Lover and scholar of vintage watches, including military ones, his passion has expanded towards modern watches from independent and emerging brands. He is also an active member of an Italian forum in the sector.
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