I realized that the picture I chose above to highlight the "details in the baton markers" that I loved about the 3970 wasn't quite adequate. Here is a better picture:
Look carefully at those baton markers and check out how delightfully and carefully sculpted they are. The balance of each subdial, the lovely use of depth - there's a lot of complications here "crammed" into a 36mm case but trust me, on the wrist there is no problem telling the time and it does not look cluttered at all.
Now, compare those details to the dial of the 5059:
(Picture taken by my friend FremStar when we were scouring the IWJG show in Brooklyn earlier this week)
That's the same 36mm case and there is much to love. But compared to the ridges, sculpture and depth of the details of the 3970 dial the 5059 just looks a bit flat. That's why the guilloche dial of the 5159 is, for me, a bit of an improvement. mimo saw how dazzling it looks in person.
But again, on the topic of pricing - a brand new 5159J retails for $96,600. Without disclosing the actual price I paid for my 3970J - a perpetual calendar chronograph, new old stock (never worn) - hey Newcomer, that should appeal to you! - open papers, completely authenticated by Patek - let's just say that it's around that much.
So, a brand new 5159R perpetual calendar with a hinged back, or a perpetual calendar chronograph model "so iconic" that Patek took four to six times as long to design its replacement (the 5970) - Thierry Stern's words, not mine:
One new model proved to be especially challenging to create – the 5970, a perpetual calendar chronograph. “The challenge is that the old model – the 3970 – is a kind of icon. Recreating such a watch is not easy because you approach it knowing that it will be almost impossible to do better.
(Actually, I personally much prefer the 3970 but that's me)
For this and a variety of reasons, the 3970 (in platinum, for this recent purchase) was my choice!
Edited by no frills - 4/26/13 at 7:17pm