One of the most intriguing Patek Philippe wristwatches is once again coming up for sale at auction, eight years after it was last sold publicly. Made in 1990 for a Japanese client, the Patek Philippe ref. 3843/1 has a 13.43-carat diamond as its crystal – a large, flat cut also known as a lasque diamond – and is an entirely one-of-a-kind wristwatch with its own singular reference number.
As we explained in our 2016 story detailing the watch the first time it was sold (which seems like a lifetime ago in watch collecting), the ref. 3843/1 came about in the early 1990s when a Japanese client handed over the 13.43-carat lasque diamond to Patek Philippe with a request to mount it onto a watch. The watch was completed in 1991 and then sold to the client in 1994.
Originating in India, lasque diamonds are flat, wide, and irregular in form. They were historically employed to cover miniature portraits and are also known as portrait-cut diamonds. Here the lasque diamond forms the crystal, which camouflages the fact that it is a diamond. Only the facetted edges and tiny inclusions are a giveaway that the crystal is a diamond.
Case in white gold and matched with a fine-link bracelet, the ref. 3843/1 was built around the lasque diamond, explaining the unusual triangular case form. The case is about 32 mm by 26 mm at its widest, making it larger than most watches of its era, though relatively small by modern standards.
Christie’s photos of the ref. 3843/1 appear to show the watch remains in the same condition was it was when it was last sold. The watch shows wear but is in well preserved condition. According to Christie’s the watch is now accompanied by a digital copy of the original certificate.
The ref. 3843/1 is exceptionally rare and unquestionably special, but also peculiar in form since it was constructed to accommodate the diamond. Perhaps such shapes are more acceptable now that asymmetric watches like the Cartier Crash are fashionable, so the ref. 3843/1 is arguably coming back for sale at the right time.
The last time the ref. 3843/1 sold publicly was in 2016 at Christie’s in Hong Kong, where it achieved HK$3.48 million including fees, equivalent to about US$444,000. Although that was just eight years ago, the watch collecting landscape was vastly different back then – at the time Phillips had just held its inaugural sale a year earlier, the Nautilus was selling well under retail, and online sales were not even a thing.
Now the low estimate is more than double the 2016 auction result and the watch is being sold exclusively online. The Patek Philippe ref. 3843/1 carries an estimate of US$1.0-2.0 million in the upcoming Watches Online: The Dubai Edit that runs from 5-19 October.
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