Hands-On with Eric Clapton’s Custom-Dial Patek Philippe Refs. 3970 and 5004

A trio of Patek Philippe chronographs made for the 18-time Grammy Award winner that will soon go under the hammer at Phillips Hong Kong.
Patek Philippe ref. 3970 Eric Clapton 1

A well known watch collector whose ownership adds significant cachet to a timepiece, Eric Clapton has never spoken publicly about his watch collection. But several of the musician’s watches have come up for sale in recent years, indicating he is fond of Rolex and Patek Philippe.

Several of Clapton’s Patek Philippe watches that have come to market featured custom-made, featuring one of a kind dials, including the platinum ref. 5004P Phillips sold in May 2016 for over US$800,000. Three more of Clapton’s former watches are up for sale at Phillips’ upcoming Hong Kong sale, all fitted with similar dials with a Breguet “12” and spherical hour markers.

The line-up includes the rose gold counterpart of the platinum 5004 sold earlier this year, as well as a pair of ref. 3970s. All are accompanied by certificates from Patek Philippe’s Geneva boutique, each bearing the name “Monsieur Eric Clapton”, attesting to provenance.

Patek Philippe chronographs Eric Clapton 1


Lots 1009 and 1010: Patek Philippe refs. 3970G and 3970R

Purchased by Clapton at the same time on June 10, 2008, the matched perpetual calendar chronographs comprise the ref. 3970G in white gold and ref. 3970R in rose gold. Both are identical to the stock 3970 in terms of the 36mm case and Lemania-based CH 27 movement, with the crucial difference being the unusual dials.

Patek Philippe ref. 3970 Eric Clapton 2

Patek Philippe ref. 3970G movement Eric Clapton

Fitted with a striking salmon dial, the white gold example is the more striking of the two, and will likely sell for more.

Patek Philippe ref. 3970G Eric Clapton

Patek Philippe ref. 3970R Eric Clapton.jpg

Nonetheless both carry the same estimate of HK$1.4m to HK$3.2m, or US$180,000 to US$400,000. The ref. 3970G is lot 1009, while the ref. 3970R is lot 1010.


Lot 1011: Patek Philippe ref. 5004R

Clapton’s ref. 5004R has exactly the same dial design as the refs. 3970, with an italic “12” and round markers for the rest of the hours. But unlike the two preceding watches, the ref. 5004R was purchased later, on January 27, 2011.

Patek Philippe ref. 5004R Eric Clapton 2

A split-seconds chronograph with perpetual calendar, the ref. 5004 is almost identical to the ref. 3970. The case is also 36mm but is significantly thicker to accommodate the split-seconds mechanism.

Patek Philippe ref. 5004R Eric Clapton 1 Patek Philippe ref. 5004R Eric Clapton 3

The ref. 5004R is lot 1011 with an estimate of HK$2.4m to HK$4.8m, or US$300,000 to US$600,000. With the matched ref. 5004P selling for over US$800,000 at the last sale, this should be similarly sought after.


Sale details

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: Three takes place on November 29, 2016, at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. The public preview of the auction starts on November 24 and ends on the day before the sale.

Additionally, highlights from the sale will tour Asia in the weeks leading up to the sale.

November 5 to 6 – Singapore
November 8 to 9 – Shanghai
November 10 to 13 – Geneva
November 19 to 20 – Taipei

The full catalogue is available here.


This was brought to you by Phillips.

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