I’ve mentioned before how Albert Ganjei’s collection has many “heavy hitter” watches in it. Any watch picked at random from his collection could easily be the crown jewel in another one, but the thing is, none of them are very loud or flashy. If I was to give his collection a theme, it would be heavy-hitting sleeper watches. Here we’ll dive deeper into his collection and take a look at yet another heavy-hitting sleeper in this Patek Philippe Calatrava reference 3483.
Looking at the watch initially, it is very unassuming, albeit elegant. It’s a 35mm monotone dress watch that would, for anyone but a hardcore watch aficionado, appear to be just another dress watch. Hell, for even a somewhat informed enthusiast, it’s just another Calatrava, but this particular watch is actually one of the rarest Calatrava’s in existence.
Since it was introduced in 1932, the Calatrava has been a mainstay model for the Patek Philippe brand. It has become the prototypical dress watch, and the model has since gone on to be released in countless variants. This particular watch sets itself apart from its Calatrava siblings in a few key ways. First, this reference 3483, which was introduced in 1963, was produced exclusively in stainless steel and was only made for a few years. It had one of the shortest production runs of any model and is one of the only made in stainless steel. Most scholars says that only 500 or so 3483’s were ever made. That alone makes this a highly collectible timepiece, but being double stamped by Tiffany & Co. amplifies the collectability factor exponentially. This timepiece pushes past just rare and is truly precious.
Unlike the reference 96, which has flowing curves, this watch is more similar to the ref. 3417 “Anti-Magnetic” Calatrava. The case and lugs are very angular and distinct from one another. The perfectly round case has a thin, polished flat bezel that angles down toward the flat polished mid case and the crisp rectangular lugs jut out prominently and have a relatively steep downward angle. Every surface is like its own mirror separate from the rest of the watch. It has an intentional lack of cohesiveness that gives it an architectural look that I really dig. The only exceptions to this theme are the crown which has a rounded top that has the watch’s namesake Calatrava cross and the screw-down caseback which has a slightly rounded edge to it.
The dial is very minimal—as a proper dress watch should be—and the hands and indices carry on the angular mirrored theme found on the case and lugs. The silver sunburst pattern matches close enough to the shade of the steel that the watch looks monotone, which is a big reason it flies under the radar. There’s nothing about the watch that is overtly calling for attention, even being fully polished, but there are so many little details worth looking closer at and that’s what makes it such a great watch. Tiny details like the facets and finishing on baton hour markers, the dimpled minute markers, and of course the Tiffany stamp add points of interest and flash in a very understated and functional way. The angles on the indices make them more legible, the dimples help delineate the minutes, and the Tiffany stamp indicates the watch’s original retailer, so yeah, all these features serve a purpose but they do it beautifully.
Moving our attention to the inside of the watch we have the manually wound in-house caliber 27SC. It’s a rhodium-plated movement with 18 jewels, a shock absorber device, and a straight-line lever escapement. Additionally, you’ll find a self-compensating Breguet balance spring and a micrometer regulator. This is a movement that will outlive you if serviced properly. In addition to being reliable, it has the Geneva hallmark and with Côtes de Genève finishing that is of the highest standard, but being from the ’60s this watch predates the display caseback era so its finishing is more for the watchmaker than the owner. Regardless, in pure Patek Philippe fashion, it’s simple, reliable, and beautiful and it goes perfectly with this reserved timepiece.
This is the kind of watch that I think takes a while to appreciate. This is a timepiece that one only comes to, maybe, once they’ve been involved in the watch world, studied countless timepieces, and refined their personal taste, and prioritized it above any external influences. This is a heavy-hitting sleeper so rare and beautiful that it requires and deserves a very knowledgeable collector to look after it and it seems it found one.