At Collectability, we take great pride in our scholarship of all things Patek Philippe and nothing gives us more pleasure than to learn new insights from others. In this in-depth study of the iconic luxury Patek Philippe ref. 3940 replica watch, our Italian friend Federico Muggia, @fedoclock, dives deep into the differences between each production series. We welcome Federico and hope you enjoy the read as much as we do.
The alluring charm of the caliber 240 long ago grabbed a hold of my imagination and led me inevitably into the wonderful world of the ref. 3940. I could only surrender. Thus, began a personal journey through the available literature. I wanted both to learn and to contribute.
The following article is a response to what I know to be true. There are many of you who want to deepen your knowledge and delight in both the small details and the main features of the gold case copy Patek Philippe ref. 3940.
This research is based on thoroughly verified sources. No research is ever exhaustive. The door is always open to discoveries which make themselves known in unexpected ways. Those who want to make further contributions are welcome as long as these are the result of serious research and whose provenance is reliable.
It was 1985. The Swiss watch industry was in full crisis. The quartz revolution was running rampant through the mechanical watch industry. This was a potential death blow to the beating heart of the Swiss economy. The belief that the mechanical watch was becoming obsolete ran through the manufactures, with the consequence that the investment into complicated or innovative mechanical timepieces virtually stopped. This was the world in which the ref. 3940 and ref. 3970 were simultaneously born: inauspicious births indeed. The ref. 3940 was historical because it was both highly complicated and in terms of copy Patek Philippe production ‘mass-produced’ as part of the main collection. There was something perplexing about the timing of its introduction in the midst of the quartz revolution, but the timing turned out to be perfect. The aesthetic content of the quartz movement, hidden by its microscopic dimensions, was no match for the easily discernible and visual aesthetics of superior mechanical movements. The market was again discovering the value of mechanical watches. The ref. 3940 represents a milestone in how far the Geneva manufacture has come. It is no coincidence that Philippe Stern, while having the privilege to wear any Patek Philippe watch, selected the ref. 3940 as the watch he would wear every day.
THE FIRST 25 PIECES FOR BEYER (1985)
The release of the white dial Patek Philippe ref. 3940 replica is also associated with the celebrated Beyer Chronometrie, Switzerland’s oldest watch retailer (since 1760) with headquarters in Zurich. Philippe Stern released the ref. 3940 to coincide with the 225th anniversary of the eponymous retailer and show support for his close friend Theodore Breyer. The first 25 models of the ref. 3940 were made with customized and numbered dials for Beyer. Numbers 1 to 15 have a German dial, while numbers 16 to 25 have an English dial. They were delivered to Beyer in May 1985. Appropriately, the first model with 770.001 movement and German N ° 1 dial was given to Theodore Beyer.
The second piece with movement number 770.002 and German N ° 2 dial sold to an important collector, Eugen Gschwind, on 9 July 1985. Today it is kept in the Patek Museum in Geneva. Nothing is known about the third with movement number 770.003 and N ° 3 dial and the subject of Beyer Chronometrie advertising as seen below.
I thought it was proper to apply a classification to the production of the ref. 3940. Four distinct series can be identified. The first series was produced from 1985 to 1987/88, the second from 1988 to 1989/90, the third from 1989/90 to 1995/96 and the fourth from 1995/96 to 2007.
The dials or quadrants for the ref. 3940 were produced by Fabrique de Cadrans Stern Frères, better known today as Stern Creations. Charles and Jean Stern were dial manufacturers in the early 1900s and were considered one of the best dial manufacturers, so much so that Fabrique de Cadrans Stern Fréres was the exclusive supplier to Swiss made fake Patek Philippe. During the Great Depression, knowing the prestige and legacy of the Geneva manufacture, the Stern brothers bought Patek Philippe in 1932. The rest, as they say, is history.
FIRST SERIES DIALS (1985 – 1987/88)
The first series dials were much more difficult to produce than the beveled versions produced later, which could explain the reduced production numbers and consequent rarity of this series. In the first series dials, the day and month indicators are located on the surface of the main dial, while the day/night and leap years are located within the grooves as can be seen below.
Close examination of the first series dials reveals that the revered words “PATEK PHILIPPE” are found with more or less accentuated graces. Another relevant aspect is the word “GENEVE.” All the dials of the first series have the grave accent above the second “E” of “GENÈVE” which we will see disappear starting from the second series.
Above is an original Swiss quality copy Patek Philippe ref. 3940 first series dial. Below is a factory reprinted first series dial. Note the larger font and the absence of the accent on Geneve.
A comparison of the photos of the original dial with that of the reprinted dial above, immediately reveal important differences. Both the grave accent on the second “E” of “GENEVE” and the graces on the fonts are absent or very coarse. The font of the calendar numbers is obviously different. The “7” being particularly different. Furthermore, if we carefully look at the signature “PATEK PHILIPPE” and the writing “GENEVE” it is clear that the latter takes on different proportions. In the original, the “G” in GENEVE begins below the middle of the “E” of “PATEK” and the last “E” of ends matches the second “I” of “PHILIPPE”.