One of the bedrocks of the Patek Philippe collection is its classic dress watch- the Calatrava. A necessary foundation piece for any Haute Horlogerie brand, the dress watch is a must and with the Calatrava, Patek Philippe continues to build on its rich tradition till this day.
For a bit of historical context, we go back to the ’30s when Charles and Henri Stern purchased the Patek Philippe brand. To revamp the manufacture, the first model they produce is, of course, the Calatrava. The Ref. 96 came in 1932, at a time when wristwatches were beginning to take over pocket watches and it was a move that cemented their status as one of the eminent watch brands of the world. To this day, the Stern family still owns Patek Philippe and you can tell that the Calatrava and in particular this first reference, is very important to them.
In the 1980s, under the helm of Philippe Stern, the brand introduces the Ref. 3796, which is what you see here today. What many do not realise, is that the Ref. 3796 is nearly a one to one recreation of the original Calatrava. From its case size to its coin-edged bezel, it wears exactly the same.
I see it as a tribute and a nod to the family heritage of both Patek and the Sterns and a historically important reference. This example is made particularly special as although today white metal Patek’s are fairly common, back then they were made in much lower quantities and as a result commands a premium for its rarity.
Many see the Calatrava as the blueprint for the ultimate dress watch, and I can’t help but agree. With perfect proportions and elegance, this Ref. 3796 is a great dress watch and one that remains understated, until someone who knows notices.