The Patek Philippe Nautilus is an iconic luxury watch and one of the most in-demand watches in the world. Today, the waterproof sport watch is available in different versions, including one with a chronograph and a two time zone display.
The Nautilus has been a part of the Patek Philippe offering for over 40 years, and its design has remained almost completely the same since its introduction in 1976. It has a few characteristic features, such as its octagonal bezel with rounded edges. Its design was based on ship portholes, and its dial with a relief embossing gives it a sporty-elegant touch. Gérald Genta was responsible for designing the watch. The designer, who previously worked for Omega, also designed Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak, which was released in 1972. Genta presented Patek Philippe with his ideas for a steel sport watch in 1974. Two years later, they had finally agreed on the design of the first Nautilus with reference number 3700. Until 1976, Patek only offered classic watches in steel. Aside from the Royal Oak and the Nautilus, Genta also designed the IWC Ingenieur with reference number 1832 from the late 1970s.
Patek Philippe has more than 175 years of history to look back on. Together with Franciszek Czapek, Antoni Norbert de Patek founded the company Patek, Czapek & Cie. in 1839. Today, Patek Philippe is the last family-owned watch manufacturer in Geneva. It is also one of the most exquisite and famous watch manufacturers in the world. Aside from the Nautilus, the Calatrava, a classic dress watch, is their other most popular model. Watches from Patek Philippe's incredible Grand Complications series regularly make headlines. Complications such as the perpetual calendar, double chronograph, tourbillon, and minute repeater are a part of this company's repertoire.
Today, the Patek Philippe Nautilus is considered one of the most beloved and successful models from this Geneva-based manufacturer. If you want a Nautilus to call your own, you will have to wait years on a waiting list, as the demand is much higher than the supply. However, this makes the watch worth much more if you wish to resell it later.
Pre-owned models with reference number 3800 can be purchased for around 15,000 euros. An 18-karat gold version costs more, around 23,000 euros. Current models with reference number 5711 are available pre-owned starting around 23,000 euros, while brand new they cost around 27,000 euros. The rose gold versions with reference number 5711/1R are much more expensive at 45,000 euros.
You can purchase the Patek Philippe Nautilus Lady for a comparatively inexpensive price. Pre-owned, the woman's quartz model starts at around 4,000 euros. New models are much more expensive at around 20,000 euros. The original Nautilus with reference number 3700 is available in a price range between 38,000 and 80,000 euros. The original 42-mm Nautilus is lovingly referred to as "Jumbo" due to its size.
When Patek Philippe presented the Nautilus in 1976, the company broke with their traditional norms. A sporty, stainless steel watch was completely new for them. The Nautilus was scandalous in its first few years, but developed into an iconic watch in high demand. Its look remains quite unchanged even today. It still has an octagonal bezel with rounded edges and a stainless steel bracelet made of satinized and polished links.
Introduced in the mid-1970s, the 42-mm case diameter caused quite a stir and led to the watch's nickname, "Jumbo." At this time, case sizes around 36 mm were the general rule. The Nautilus's case construction was also novel, as it was comprised of two pieces: the bezel and the monocoque casing. Usually, manufacturers use a three-piece case construction consisting of the case back, middle section, and bezel. The Nautilus's monocoque only had one hole for the winding stem, and the bezel was pressed on. There was also a seal between the monocoque and the bezel. Working together, the monocoque casing, bezel, and seal create waterproofness up to 120 m (12 bar).
Patek Philippe decided to feature a horizontal relief on the dial, giving it a sportier, maritime touch as opposed to a classic guilloche. The luminescent baton indices contributed to the watch's sporty look, as did the luminous hands for the hours and minutes.
Patek Philippe used the caliber 28-255 C, which was based on a movement by Jaeger-LeCoultre. At the time, the movement was considered to be one of the thinnest automatic calibers at 3.15 mm. It also had a date display at three o'clock.
Since the early 1980s, there have been many different versions of the Patek Philippe Nautilus. The model with reference number 3800, a mid-sized, 37.5-mm wristwatch, is available in solid gold, platinum, or a bicolor mix of steel and gold. After Patek temporarily stopped producing the larger Nautilus at the beginning of the 1990s, the 3800 became their only sport watch.
In the mid-1990s, Patek Philippe introduced reference number 5060, a wristwatch made of gold. For the first time, a Nautilus was also offered with a leather strap. Its three-piece case with a screw-down crown and case back were also new, although its waterproofness to 120 m (12 bar) remained the same. This watch was the inspiration for Patek's second sport watch, the Aquanaut.
In 1998, Patek Philippe reissued the large Nautilus. The watch with reference number 3710/1A had a power reserve beneath 12 o'clock and Roman numeral hour markers. In the mid-2000s, this model was also available in 18-karat white gold with a sapphire glass back. Another new watch was the most intricate version of the Nautilus to date. It featured a date-by-hand display, power reserve display, and moon phase display. The caliber 240 PS IRM C LU powered the watch. Today, these complicated watches are amongst the most sought-after collector's watches. They have the reference number 3712/1A.
In 2006, the Nautilus celebrated its 30th birthday. The company took the opportunity to quietly refine parts of the timepiece. The sides became slightly domed and the diameter of reference number 5711/1A increased to 43 mm. The new top model was reference number 5980 with a flyback chronograph. In 2014, the Nautilus Travel Time with reference number 5990 was introduced. It had a chronograph function, date-by-hand display, and could display two time zones. Patek Philippe developed an entirely new case for the caliber CH 28-520 C FUS. The hinge on the right side of the case served as crown protection. Patek replaced the hinge on the left side with two push-pieces for the time zones, still without changing the original design. The chronograph also required two push-pieces, which were placed between one and two o'clock and four and five o'clock.
The current stainless steel version has reference number 5711. The three-hand watch, like the Jumbo, has a date display at three o'clock. However, unlike the first generation, the case diameter is only 40 mm. You have the choice between black-blue or silver-white coloring, and the watch is powered by the automatic caliber 324 S C. With a thickness of 3.3 mm, it's incredibly flat and allows for an altogether sleek design. The caliber is made of 213 individual pieces and runs at a frequency of 28,800 alternations per hour.