The Patek Philippe Beta 21 movement was actually the fruit of a collaborative effort spanning from 1962 through 1969, which was sponsored by over 20 leading Swiss watch brands, and named the Centre Electronique Horloger. The resulting movement was introduced at the 1970 Basel Fair, and was put into watches by various brands.
The Beta 21 is really an electronic caliber with a quartz crystal and interestingly, the natural oscillation rate of the quartz crystal is 8192 Hz, which Patek reduced to 256 Hz by means of a proprietary frequency reducer. The seconds hand sweeps (versus the usual ticking of quartz movements), and the caliber has 13 jewels. A date is provided at the 3 o’clock position.
As historic as this timepiece is, it’s got a heck of a lot of 70’s funky chunkiness going on too. Collecting Patek Philippe watches can be a serious endeavor. These oversized gold behemoth Betas helps enormously with the fun quotient in your collection. Indeed, this solid 18k gold case measures 42mm wide and long by 12.5mm thick. The crystal is sapphire. There is a tiny band of polished gold around the crystal which steps down to a broad brush finished bezel. The case sides are also brush finished. There is a polished surface on the underside of the main case body and the massive 18k screw back is matte finished.
The big story with this particular case, which makes this watch a rarity amongst Betas, is the removable bracelet system. LESS THAN TEN OF THESE REFERENCES ARE KNOWN TO EXIST. You can put on the original 18k Patek bracelet or a strap. Most Beta cases have an integral bracelet (no lugs, the bracelet is welded to the case) or lugs (which preclude wearing it on a bracelet). This is rare, rare, rare!
Original dial is gold with a radial brushed finish, applied golden hour markers, minutes chapter and date. There are some subtleties on the dial that I want to mention. First the original golden hands have black inlays and the hour markers also have their external edges painted in black. Further, the minutes chapter is black and the surface of the dial where the minutes chapter is has what looks like a bead-blasted finish which contrasts with the rest of the dial’s brushed finish.
This watch will be delivered on its original 18k gold Patek Philippe space age style perforated and satin finished bracelet.
Bracelet and case are in perfect condition, and the watch is running. Per the sticker on the case back, this watch has had a factory service at Patek.
This watch has a lot going on, and is highly collectable and highly fun.