SwissWatchExpo Ultimate Guide to the Patek Philippe Nautilus

The Patek Philippe Nautilus has epitomized the luxury steel sports watch since 1976. Created by Gerald Genta, the vanguard of the luxury sports watch genre, it has gone from an outlier among Patek’s overwhelmingly elegant catalog, to a most coveted model, not just within the brand but in the entire watch world.

The Nautilus was groundbreaking for several reasons – first, because it went head-to-head with popular quartz watches of its time; and second, because it was a Patek Philippe made of steel. Despite these deviations, the Nautilus had the makings of an iconic timepiece. The porthole-inspired case, sparingly-decorated ribbed dial, and mix of brushed and polished finishes was a winning combination of sporty and elegant vibes.

Get your crash course on the quintessential luxury sports watch with SwissWatchExpo‘s Ultimate Guide to the Patek Philippe Nautilus.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Yellow Gold Silver Dial Mens Watch 3800

About the Patek Philippe Nautilus

The Patek Philippe Nautilus was famously designed by Gerald Genta, the creator of the first steel luxury sports watch, Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak.

As less expensive and more accurate quartz watches took over the industry, Genta was commissioned to create a groundbreaking watch that would entice collectors to buy mechanical watches again. The steel case and unconventional shape of the Royal Oak disrupted the codes of watchmaking at the time and paved the way for a new genre of watches: the steel luxury sports watch.

Four years after, in 1976, Genta had a stroke of genius while attending the Basel Fair. Sitting across Patek Philippe executives, he began doing a rough sketch inspired by  transatlantic liners and the world of sailing. In a matter of minutes, the design for the Patek Philippe Nautilus came to life. Here are the most important milestones in the history of the Patek Philippe Nautilus:

1974 – Gérald Genta, renowned watch designer, showed his sketch for the Nautilus to Patek Philippe executives and the Stern family

1976 – The first Nautilus, Reference 3700/1 is introduced, and was later named “Jumbo” for its 42mm case, which was considered large at the time

1980 – Patek Philippe introduces a ladies’ Nautilus with a quartz movement, followed one year later with a 37mm mid-size men’s version (Reference 3800)

Patek Philippe Nautilus 32mm Steel Yellow Gold Ladies Watch 3900

1981 – Patek begins creating yellow gold and two-tone (steel and gold) versions of the Nautilus

1990 – With smaller versions of the Nautilus becoming more popular, production of the 42mm “Jumbo” model stops. It becomes a sought-after collectible and commands top prices at auctions.

1992 – Patek Philippe re-introduces a Nautilus in its original 42mm size. This revamped model features Roman numerals instead of baton markers and comes with a power-reserve indicator.

1996 – Patek Philippine begins to offer a Nautilus model that features Roman numerals and a smooth dial. Gold versions of this model were made available soon thereafter.

2006 – The Nautilus celebrates its 30th anniversary, and Patek Philippe introduces a rounder case shape and a refashioned case design. The Reference 5711 is also introduced in the same year. It measures 43mm and features a gradient black-blue dial. It would eventually become the most highly coveted Nautilus model.

2016 – The Nautilus celebrates its 40th anniversary, and Patek Philippe introduces two limited-edition models: a platinum version with a 43 mm case, and a chronograph version in white gold with a 44 mm case. Both command premium prices and are available at limited production of 700 and 1,300 pieces respectively.

2021 – The Patek Philippe 5711 is officially discontinued. Earlier in the year, an olive green dial version and Tiffany blue dial were introduced as final models in the 5711 series.


 

Key Models of the Patek Philippe Nautilus

The Patek Philippe Nautilus made its storied debut in 1976, at the height of the luxury sports watch revolution. The original three-handed model has since evolved into an entire collection, to include varying metals, dial designs, case sizes, and complications. Here are the sub-collections within the Patek Philippe Nautilus family of watches:

Patek Philippe Nautilus White Dial Steel Mens Watch 5980

PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 5711 TIME/DATE
Case size: 40mm
Movement: Caliber 26-330 S C
Water resistance: 120m

The classic three-hand design, with a horizontal grooved dial, baton hour markers, and date aperture at 3 o’clock. The most popular edition of this collection is the blue dial 5711/1A, which has been discontinued in early 2021. It was replaced with an olive-green dial version and a highly-exclusive Tiffany & Co dial version, which were final additions to the series.

PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 5712 MOONPHASE
Case size: 40mm
Movement: Caliber 240 PS IRM C LU
Water resistance: 60m

Introduced in 2006, the ref 5712 offers more complexity with a moon phase display, power-reserve indicator, running seconds sub-dial and pointer date. It is available in steel with an integrated steel bracelet, or in rose gold or white gold with a leather strap.

PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 5726 ANNUAL CALENDAR
Case size: 40.5mm
Movement: Caliber 324 S QA LU 24H
Water resistance: 120m

Introduced in 2010, it features the annual calendar complication that Patek first introduced in 1996. It comes with a date, day-of-the-week and month display in window apertures, while the small 24-hour display and moonphase are on the sub dial at 6 o’clock. It advances correctly for months with 30 or 31 days and only needs adjustment at the end of February. The Nautilus Annual Calendar comes exclusively in stainless steel.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Annual Calendar Moonphase Steel Watch 5726

PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 5980 CHRONOGRAPH
Case size: 40.5mm
Movement: Caliber CH 28-520 C
Water resistance: 120m

Introduced in 2006, the Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph is cleverly designed with only one chronograph sub dial, which fits both an elapsed minutes and hours recorder. This leaves enough space for the date at 3 o’clock. This is currently available only in rose gold and two-tone steel and rose gold.

PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 5990 TRAVEL TIME CHRONOGRAPH
Case size: 40.5mm
Movement: Caliber CH 28‑520 C FUS
Water resistance: 120m

An evolution of the 5980, the Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph features a skeletonized hand to display the reference time, “Home” and “Local” day/night windows at 3 and 9 o’clock, while the local date and elapsed minutes are shown at 12 and 6 o’clock. Two pushers are cleverly integrated into the left “ears” of the case to adjust the local time. It is currently available in steel and rose gold.

PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 5740 PERPETUAL CALENDAR
Case size: 40mm
Movement: Caliber 240 Q
Water resistance: 60m

The Nautilus Perpetual Calendar was the first grand complication introduced to the collection. It features a trio of sub-dials that show the day, date, month, leap year, moon phase and 24-hour cycle, with a more prominent indication for the moon phases and date. The moon phase indicator is extremely precise, needing adjustment only once every 122 years. This model comes exclusively in white gold.

 


 

Popular Patek Philippe Nautilus Models

There are only a few watches that can claim iconic status in the watch world, and the Patek Philippe Nautilus is unarguably one of them. The maritime inspiration, distinct design, and illustrious history of the Nautilus makes each model consistently valuable, but of course there are crowd favorites within the collection. Here are the most popular models from the Nautilus line:

PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 5711/1A

Produced from 2006 to 2021, the Patek Philippe Nautilus Reference 5711/1A reached mythical status. Introduced in time for the 30th anniversary of the Nautilus, its blue dial version is a direct descendant of the first ever Nautilus watch, the Reference 3700. Combining classic looks with an edgy gradient blue dial, the watch had undeniably strong appeal. At its prime, it had an average wait list of eight years at authorized retailers, and fetched double its retail price in the secondary market. One could unequivocally say that it was the luxury sports watch of its time, and now that production has ceased, the frenzy continues to grow.

PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS LADIES 7118

Introduced in 2017, the Patek Philippe Nautilus Reference 7118 improved the ladies counterpart with a slightly larger diameter (35.2 mm instead of 33.6 mm) and a new range of dial colors including blue, silver, and gray with grading to black on the edges. The substantial sizing and sporty-elegant look makes it appealing to ladies who need an all-around watch: one that can be worn in casual settings, but is just as appropriate for formal occasions.

PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS TIFFANY DIAL

Before Patek Philippe ceased production of their highly celebrated Reference 5711, they made sure to end it with a bang. The final addition to the series is a highly exclusive Tiffany Blue model. Available exclusively at Tiffany & Co. boutiques in New York, Beverly Hills, and San Francisco, this Tiffany-stamped watch was produced only in 170 pieces. With all these elements combined, it was bound to be a hot ticket item. Spotted on the wrists of Jay-Z, Leonardo DiCaprio, and LeBron James, it’s not a watch that everyone can own, but certainly one that every watch collector will recognize.


 

Common Questions About the Patek Philippe Nautilus

The Patek Philippe Nautilus was the first sport offering of the heritage Genevan watchmaker. Today, it is the most coveted luxury sports watch. Here are the most commonly asked questions about Patek Philippe Nautilus.

WHAT IS A PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS?

The Nautilus is a maritime-inspired luxury sports watch. Introduced in 1976, it was created by renowned designer Gerald Genta, who was the pioneer of the steel luxury sports watch genre. The Nautilus is characterized by its porthole-style case and integrated bracelet built entirely from stainless steel, but the collection has evolved to include gold versions.

WHY IS THE PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 5711 SO HARD TO ACQUIRE?

The Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A debuted in 2006 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Nautilus. The grooved black-blue dial version has become the most wanted luxury sports watch to date, with an average waiting time of eight years at authorized dealers. It is especially loved for its versatility. It is also historically significant because it is a modernized version of the very first Nautilus, the 3700/1 from 1976.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Rose Gold and White Gold Diamond Silver Dial Ladies Watch 7010

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS IS REAL?

The Patek Philippe Nautilus is a target of counterfeiters due to its great demand and value. Patek Philippe’s timepieces are made to the highest standards and with top quality materials, so poor construction is a dead giveaway.

Before you purchase your Nautilus watch, it is essential to do research on your chosen reference, and to familiarize yourself with its most minute details, so you can more easily spot a fake. The best defense against buying any fake timepiece, is to buy from a reputable dealer, like SwissWatchExpo, who can provide a guarantee of authenticity on the watch.

DOES THE PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS HOLD ITS VALUE?

As the most prestigious watch brand in the world, Patek Philippe watches in general hold their value well. The Patek Philippe name is forever linked with sophisticated design and exceptional quality, and is also universally recognized as a harbinger of taste. Aside from this reputation, Patek Philippe only produces around 50,000 timepieces a year, which makes for a limited inventory. These factors give Patek Philippe a firm grip on the value of their watches.


 

The Patek Philippe Nautilus continues to be the most coveted steel luxury sports watch today, and has more than defied the odds of its time. Explore our collection of Patek Philippe Nautilus watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.

 

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