Writing about what has already been written is the ultimate challenge. What could be more meaningful than writing about one of the most iconic pieces in the history of design, watches, art, and the watch industry than the Patek Philippe Nautilus? It isn't just emblematic. It is a relentless piece of contemporary creative culture and luxury lifestyle flair. The challenge is to find what has yet to be said about it, creating a Patek Philipe Nautilus guide that lasts just like Gérald Genta art. Is it even possible?
In this Nautilus guide you will find:
The history and how Gérald Genta created Patek Philippe Nautilus
Iconic Nautilus references and the anniversary editions
Celebrities and the most recent Nautilus
As an artist, Genta's legacy stands the test of time and has been reinvented recently, appropriating trends from decades ago. The watch industry also makes its revival, with reconstructed versions of models that rocked in the past. It is the case for the maritime-inspired Gérald Genta creation from 1976, the Patek Philipe Nautilus.
From being the first sports watch to becoming the most coveted sports luxury watch, the Patek Philipe Nautilus has had several iterations over time. Prepare to board the Nautilus, join us on a Jules Verne adventure as we ship 20.000 leagues on a captivating horological adventure with intriguing details and some insider knowledge that will make you fall even deeper in love with this timeless watch.
THE ORIGINAL PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS
Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700/1 1976
Patek Philippe Nautilus: the basics
Since 1976, the Jumbo, as watch enthusiasts labeled the 3700/1A, aka Nautilus, is one of the top valuable steel watches in the world. The Nautilus was created amidst industry turmoil after Seiko introduced mass production, high-quality quartz watches in 1969, lowering the entry prices and shaking the watch industry. Patek Philippe went big and bold, inspired by the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak success, and accepted Gérald Genta's proposal to create a unique Patek sports watch. Patek Philippe Nautilus was born.
The Patek Philippe Nautilus is a creation by the Suisse watch design master Gérald Genta, who inspired himself by luxury ocean liners to create much more than a watch. Genta apparently conceived the Nautilus during a casual encounter at a restaurant, sketching the watch's distinctive shape on a napkin. It is said that it was also inspired by Jules Verne's 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. For those who might need to remember, Nautilus was the ship's name. As Verne's masterpiece, the Nautilus was also a steppingstone, a waterproof luxury sports watch created as a timeless concept. Inspired by the porthole of ships and door hinges, the combination of a revolutionary design with resistance still makes the Nautilus the epitome of sporty elegance.
Powering the Nautilus 3700/1A was the caliber 28-255 C, a self-winding mechanical movement that provided reliable timekeeping developed by Jaeger LeCoultre. This ultra-slim caliber was based on previous calibers developed by LeCoultre under a project funded by Patek. This project served the Nautilus, Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak and Vacheron Constantin VC 222, remaining one of the thinnest and impressive watch movements. Although the mechanical winder was slim, Gérald Genta introduced a 42-millimeter case, which, at the time, was a bright shoot. With a rounded octagonal bezel, a clever porthole case, and a sunburst blue dial with signature horizontal patterns matching the integrated stainless-steel bracelet, it has expanded to include several variants made from steel, rose gold, white gold, or a combination of two tones. One of the notable design elements of the Nautilus 3700/1A was its integrated bracelet. The bracelet added to the watch's sporty appeal while ensuring a comfortable fit on the wrist. It was carefully crafted, featuring brushed and polished links that perfectly complemented the watch's overall aesthetic.
Since its inception, the Nautilus collection has expanded to include many models for men and women. Each model maintains the Nautilus's signature design elements while offering variations in materials, complications, and dial designs. Among the various Patek Philippe Nautilus models, the Ref. 5711/1A has emerged as one of the most sought-after and popular versions. This stainless-steel model features a time-only display, a date function, and the classic blue dial. Its simplicity, iconic design, and versatile appeal have contributed to its enduring popularity and high demand in the market.
How many Nautilus models are there?
Too many, still too little. The Nautilus history and iterations go from simplicity to more complicated references. Nonetheless, they are always rare, as the brand only produces a few watches of each reference. Over the years, the Nautilus has evolved, with notable milestones, including the introduction of complications like moon phases, chronographs, and annual calendars. Notable models include the Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A, Ref. 5712/1A, Ref. 5990/1A, Ref. 5726/1A, and the ladies' Nautilus Ref. 7118/1A. The Nautilus 3700/1A (1976) is the original Nautilus model that started it all.
In 1981 Patek launched the 3800/1A, a smaller version of the Nautilus with a 37.5mm stainless steel case. It retained the classic blue dial, steel bezel, and integrated stainless-steel bracelet powered by the caliber 335 SC, which was introduced to replace the LeCoultre movement that fed the Nautilus since the early days. In 1998, the Nautilus 3710/1A introduced a power reserve indicator at 12 o'clock. It featured a stainless-steel case with an integrated steel bracelet and a steel bezel with a hobnail pattern powered by the caliber 330 SC.
Let's fast forward to 2006, Nautilus' 30th anniversary. During this milestone moment several noteworthy changes were introduced. Externally, the polished bezel acquired a sharper edge, creating a visually striking effect. But the show's real star was the three-piece case, featuring a sapphire crystal case back that offered a glimpse into the watch's heart. The famous porthole mechanism for tightening the bezel remained, adding a touch of nostalgia and charm.
Also in 2006, the Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph 5980/1A was the first Nautilus chronograph model sparking conversations and becoming the talk of the town. It had a 40.5mm stainless steel case, a blue dial with horizontal embossed patterns, a steel bezel, and an integrated steel bracelet. It featured the caliber CH 28-520 C, a self-winding movement with a chronograph function. Again, even in 2006, Patek Phillipe introduced the Nautilus 5711/1A, remaining until today. It is a classic Nautilus model with a 40mm stainless steel case, a blue dial with horizontal embossed patterns, a steel bezel, and an integrated steel bracelet. It is powered by the caliber 324 SC, a self-winding movement. The Nautilus continued to evolve with the moon phase model (Ref. 5712/1A) and the midsize version (5800/1A). The debut of the Reference 5712R showcased the Nautilus in a stunning rose-gold case, adding a touch of opulence to its already legendary status. Later that year, a hidden gem emerged: a Nautilus graced the stage with a captivating white dial for the first time, debuting as the 5980/1A-19 chronograph.
The Nautilus Annual Calendar 5726/1A was introduced in 2010, complication displaying the day, date, and month and in 2014, another step was taken, with the Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph 5990/1A, featuring a 40.5mm stainless steel case, a blue dial with horizontal embossed patterns, a steel bezel, and an integrated stainless-steel bracelet. In 2019, the Nautilus 5726/1A became a model with an annual calendar complication, displaying the day, date, and month, along with a moon phase indicator. It has a stainless-steel case, a steel bezel with a hobnail pattern, a blue dial with horizontal embossed patterns, and an integrated steel bracelet. It is powered by the caliber 324 S QA LU 24H.
Soon the Patek Philippe Nautilus will turn 50 years. A massive milestone for a watch that is already part of the watch industry history, design inspiration, and social-cultural individuation. The 2026 Nautilus 50th anniversary is already being prepared. One thing we know for sure: Patek's expertise in providing value for watch owners and collectors is, above everything else, the reason why the adored 5711 reference was discontinued while holding its symbolic significance.
PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS MODELS
Patek Philippe 5990 Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph
Platinum and cork on Patek Philippe Nautilus 40th anniversary
Patek knows the drill and, for its 40th anniversary, re-created the 5711 we fell in love with. It used the same case and renowned simplicity of a watch powered by the caliber 324 S C, improving it with a owe wonder platinum bracelet and diamond markers. Cherry cake? The engraved date and landmark: "40" and "1976-2016" on the bottom-line, right-on top of the six o'clock on the dial. This watch became a true collector's dream, with only 700 pieces available, elevating the Nautilus to extraordinary heights. Furthermore, it represented the end of an Era. For this anniversary, Patek recovered the vintage-style cork box from the beginning of their story, making it even more special and exclusive. The cork box was also used for the commemorative 5976/1G, expanding the case for this 40th birthday. The Reference 5976/1G took center stage, showcasing a 44-millimeter white-gold case chronograph. This limited-edition timepiece, adorned with the special dial inscription, "1976 - 40 - 2016," became a true collector's dream with only 1,300 pieces available.
5976/1G - Patek Philippe Nautilus
Is the Nautilus a good investment?
Owning a Patek Philippe Nautilus is a testament to exquisite taste and a potential investment opportunity. You might never own it, but you get to hold it for future generations. Patek Philippe watches are renowned for their craftsmanship, exclusivity, and limited production, often leading to high demand and increased value over time. This is the case for the original Nautilus Reference 5711/1A, which has emerged as one of the most sought-after and popular versions, especially after Thierry Stern, the CEO of Patek Philippe, said that there were too many Nautilus watches in the market, deciding to discontinue the 5711 references. In 2021 the first-ever Nautilus reference was discontinued after one last iteration: a sunburst olive green dial replaced the blue-greyish dial. This stainless-steel model (Ref. 5711/1A-014) features a time-only display and a date function. Its simplicity, iconic design, and versatile appeal have contributed to its enduring popularity and high demand in the market.
Which is the most popular and investment-worthy Nautilus?
Rare Nautilus models, particularly those with unique complications or limited editions, tend to value significantly, making them a wise investment choice. One standout Patek Philippe Nautilus model to consider for investment purposes is the Nautilus Ref. 5711/1R, also known as the "Rose Gold Nautilus." This model features an 18k rose gold case, a chocolate brown dial, and a luxurious aesthetic. The combination of rose gold and the Nautilus's iconic design makes it highly coveted among collectors, with a potential for substantial appreciation in worth.
THE ROSE GOLD NAUTILUS
Patek Philippe Rose Gold 5712/1
Celebrities love the famous Patek Philippe Nautilus.
As an iconic symbol of aesthetics, design, and exclusivity,
celebrities love the elegance and craftsmanship of the Patek Philippe Nautilus.
The Canadian rapper Drake is known for his love of luxury watches. He has been spotted wearing various models of the Patek Philippe Nautilus, along with Jay-Z, the American rapper and entrepreneur. This well-known watch collector has been seen wearing the Nautilus on multiple occasions. Also on the music scene, John Mayer is an avid watch enthusiast passionate about Patek Philippe timepieces, including the Nautilus, with which Ed Sheran has also been spotted. Even if not on the big screen, in real life, actors such as Robert Downey Jr., Brad Pitt, and Kevin Hart added a touch of sophistication to their styles while spotted wearing a Nautilus. Mr. Spagheti movie genre, movie director aka Sergio Leone, also wears it. Same for the popular talk show TV host, Elen Degeneres, wearing a Nautilus on and off-screen. Professional footballers like Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford, Lionel Messi, and the Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer impressive watch collections include a Patek Philippe Nautilus. The NBA star LeBron James has also been seen sporting a Nautilus.
Current fashion unisex trends bring larger watches to the center stage. Women are increasingly interested in more complex timepieces wearing a watch as a statement rather than a feminine accessory. More female customers and more women in the luxury watch-making industry trail an oversized trend in the women's arena, shifting the dial towards what we used to define in male and female watch design. In the upfront, Patek launched the first Nautilus ladies' model in 1980. The midsize 3800 Nautilus was created in 1981 and available from 1982 ahead; with a smaller diameter of 37.5mm, it was meant to appeal to a broader audience with smaller wrists and a different lifestyle, as it was available in a variety of dial types, case colors, and bracelets: stainless steel but also different types of gold, platinum, and the precious rose gold. This reference was replaced in 2006 with the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5800.
THE TIFFANY DIAL
Patek Philippe Nautilus Tiffany Dial 5711/1A-018
Diamonds are forever, and watches are a girl's best friend, just like diamonds used to be. If girls grow old, rocks don't go cold. Same for the eternal Tiffany blue on the Nautilus, the final iteration on the iconic, meanwhile discontinued, 5711. The Nautilus 5711/1A-01 debuted in 2006, adding the final touch to the later 5711/1A, with a greenish dial, a 40mm case, a self-winding mechanism, and the date, also including a version with a diamond-set bezel (5700/1300-001). In a New York Times interview, Thierry Stern stated that the 5711 would have a victory lap, leaving most Patek fans obsessed with the limited-edition Tiffany Blue Patek Philippe 5711 from 2021. Recovering everything we know from 5711/1A and adding the Tiffany Blue dial skyrocketed the general interest and collector's hunger. With 170 pieces available, this timepiece included a special inscription on the back, matching Tiffany's anniversary with Patek Philippe (170th Anniversary Tiffany & Co – Patek Phillipe 1851 – 2021) representing Tiffany's 170 anniversary and the last 5711 breath.