Any watch collector or aficionado worth his Patek Philippe would know the Nautilus. Launched in 1976, it was designed by legendary watch designer Gerald Genta to rival Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak model. That competitiveness paid off — the Nautilus was destined to become an icon, a status that has remained unchanged even after four decades. This year, the model celebrates 40 good years as a classic with dedicated jubilee editions. Yes, that means not one, but two special editions: a platinum three-hand 5711/1P and a white gold chronograph 5976/1G.
Created as Genta was having dinner at the restaurant of a hotel, it is rumoured that the Nautilus’s first blueprint only took five minutes to sketch — not shabby work for a timepiece that would become the icon it is today. Back then, the first Nautilus 3700/1A, though voluminous and made of steel, was revolutionary in that it had water resistance of up to 120 metres. And unlike any other wristwatch in the market, this was one that embodied a nautical spirit — one that was dear to Philippe Stern, who was a passionate skipper and regatta contestant.
In a limited edition of 700 pieces, the Ref. 5711/1P Nautilus sees a wearable 40mm platinum case that alludes to the original Nautilus Ref. 3700/1A “Jumbo” from 1976. Based on the classic (and most sought-after) three-hands versions of the Nautilus, the watch now comes in solid platinum 950, following variations such as pink gold and steel. Patek nerds should be well aware by now that the “P” in its reference number means that only the most precious and most expensive of metals were used to craft the timepiece. If that’s not privy enough, they will also know that all diamonds set into the bezels of this watch at its 6 o’clock position feature a very small Wesselton (translate: very high on the purity and clarity scale). Blue-treated from solid yellow gold (explains the eye-watering SGD140,000 price tag), the vibrant dial keeps its horizontal line-embossment and sun-ray pattern. Large, baguette-cut diamonds mark the hours on the dial add a bit of glamour to the milestone special.
Beneath its case, Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1P 40th Anniversary edition is powered by the same automatic 324 SC movement as its steel counterparts. Together with other standard Patek offerings such as the Gyromax balance wheel, Spiromax balance spring, 4Hz frequency and of course, the coveted Patek seal.
While sharing similar attributes to the 5711/1P, the more complicated Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph 5976/1G (main image) runs on a different movement and comes with a much larger case. At 44mm, the special edition is a massive watch that veers off the traditional 40.5mm that was the Ref. 5980 and Ref. 5990 which replaced it. However, like the Ref. 5980, at the heart of this timepiece is an in-house automatic and integrated fly-back chronograph movement — the calibre CH 28-520 C — with co-axial sub-counters at 6, 45 and 55 hours of power reserve. Only 1,300 of these will be made, and are priced at a slightly less hefty SGD120,000.
As a tribute to their legendary statuses, both watches will be housed in brown cork boxes — a replica of the 1976 originals. Like the first Nautilus, the box will also feature the same steel plaque on the front side, alongside polished stainless steel frames at its base and hinged cover.
“I am of course very happy about the success of the Nautilus collection. As my father recalls, when he launched the Nautilus at the beginning the public was not really ready to understand this avant-garde design or to accept it, but step by step the Nautilus became established. So it was not an easy start and therefore we can be proud of the long term success of this collection,” mused Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe.