All About The Patek Philippe Nautilus
A Short History Of The Patek Philippe Nautilus
A watch collection wouldn’t really be complete without a Patek Philippe Nautilus in it. That’s the iconic stature that this watch has achieved ever since it was first introduced in 1976. The watch design has remained mostly unchanged since the original Nautilus, making it a blueprint for steel luxury watches.
The original model couldn’t be counted amongst the best steel watches of its time as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak came out in 1972. The company went for a bold play, highlighting the fact that the first Nautilus Reference 3700 was “One of the world’s costliest watches.” It was quite the bold claim for a watch made out of steel.
Gérald Genta, the man who designed the watch, based it on the shape of a porthole that one would find on a transatlantic ship. The wide bezel has “ears” at the side, which resemble the large hinges of portholes. The case itself was manufactured using nickel-chrome-molybdenum steel, which was considered to be the highest standard alloy back then. The same was used for the construction of tanks during the Second World War.
The design was unique, and not something that Watch enthusiasts were used to. The Nautilus has an octagonal bezel with outward curving sides. 42mm watches weren’t the norm back in 1976, but the Nautilus was never a stickler for tradition. As many had expected, the market wasn’t as receptive to the first steel Nautilus. Many found it too big and too expensive for their taste.
However, things changed dramatically when, in 1980, Patek Philippe launched a ladies’ Nautilus with a quartz movement. The very next year, it launched a 37mm model for men, and that’s when it really took off.
The Modern Patek Philippe Nautilus Collection
The steel models continue to be in high demand. The Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 5711/1A, in particular, is a hot favorite. That’s even though the company now offers models in Rose Gold and White Gold. There’s also a limited edition platinum model for those who want a special Nautilus.
The Nautilus Ref. 5711/1R, for example, is available in a 40mm Rose Gold case with a self-winding mechanical movement. There’s also the Ref. 5980/1AR with its two-tone Steel/Rose Gold 40.5mm case. It has a self-winding movement with a date complication while the Ref. 5726/1A has an annual calendar complication.
The original 1976 model had a 42mm case, and it later came to be referred to as “Jumbo” once Patek reduced the case size. Collectors also appreciate the Patek Philippe Aquanaut because it brings the Jumbo back to life with its 42.2mm case. Despite its octagonal case, the design isn’t exactly the same as the Nautilus, but it’s a solid option for those who want a larger timepiece.
Buying A Patek Philippe Nautilus
Forget the Rose Gold and White Gold models. The steel is the one you want if you want people to know that you’re a serious collector and someone who knows their watches. The Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A is the one you want. It’s the stainless steel model and one that’s incredibly hard to come by. Dealers have waiting lists that stretch between 6 to 8 years while prices in the secondary market have skyrocketed. At retail, this particular watch costs $29,800, but you would be hard-pressed to find a used one for even $50,000. Talk about making a return on investment.
Patek Philippe does an excellent job of enforcing the sales of its timepieces through its dealer network. There’s a chance of finding a forgotten Nautilus in the watches section of a department store, for example. The only option for those who would prefer a stainless steel model is to either get on a waiting list and be patient for several years or pay through their nose for one on the secondary market. Many reputable jewelers and watch dealers do have units in stock but be prepared to almost pay double the retail on the Ref. 5711/1A. For any other model, try your luck at an official Patek dealer.