Patek Philippe released the Nautilus sports watch in 1976, less than five years after the OG luxury sports watch — the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. As many of you may already know, Gerald Genta designed both the Royal Oak and the Nautilus, which explains the similarities between these two ultra-luxurious sports watches. While high-end sports watches are all the rage today, when Patek Philippe introduced the Nautilus, it was the first of its kind in the 137-year history of the watchmaker.
The first Patek Philippe Nautilus: the 3700/1A Jumbo
The maiden model was the Nautilus ref. 3700/1A, which was crafted in stainless steel (rare for Patek at that time and an anomaly in a sea of fine gold watches) and featured plenty of avant-garde design details. For instance, the Nautilus case silhouette took inspiration from the portholes of a ship, complete with ear-like hinges on the sides and an octagonal bezel with rounded edges. That case measured an exceedingly large-for-the-period 42mm case width and was water-resistant to an impressive 120 meters deep. Yet, despite its size, the 3700/1A, which was nicknamed the “Jumbo,” remained wonderfully thin and comfortable on the wrist thanks in large part to the ultra-thin Patek Philippe Caliber 28-255 automatic movement (based on the iconic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 920).
Housed inside the Nautilus ref. 3700/1A case was a blue/black dial, embossed with vertical lines, punctuated with a pair of hands at the center and a date window at 3 o’clock. Then there was the ultra-modern integrated bracelet, which included both polished and satin finishes for that extra touch.
To emphasize the nautical theme of its first sports watch, Patek Philippe named it the Nautilus, after Captain Nemo’s submarine in Jules Verne’s novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
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“A stainless steel watch that costs HOW MUCH!?”
While the design of the very first Nautilus “Jumbo” was no doubt astonishing for those who were familiar with Patek Philippe’s traditional aesthetic, even more staggering was the watch’s price. Even in the late-1970s, the Nautilus was considered expensive — especially since it was made of robust stainless steel instead of precious gold and only offered simple time and date functionality rather than flaunting intricate complications. In fact, some early Patek Philippe Nautilus ads proudly touted, “One of the world’s costliest watches is made of steel.”
That original Reference 3700/1A eventually paved the way for a full and varied Nautilus watch collection, offering a wide range of sizes, materials, and yes, even complications and leather straps.
Patek Philippe Nautilus Timeline 1976 – 2005
- 1976 – Nautilus “Jumbo” Reference 3700 (discontinued 1990)
- 1980 – Ladies’ Quartz Nautilus Reference 4700 (discontinued in 2006)
- 1981 – Midsize Nautilus Reference 3800 (discontinued 2006) and Reference 3900
- 1998 – Nautilus Reference 3710 with power reserve indicator (discontinued in 2006)
- 2004 – White gold Nautilus “Jumbo” Reference 3711 (discontinued in 2006)
- 2005 –Nautilus Reference 3712 with power-reserve indicator, moon phase, and analog date (discontinued 2006)
In 2006, Patek Philippe unveiled an entirely new generation of Nautilus watches to mark the model’s 30th anniversary. This is the year that would introduce some of the most famous Nautilus references ever made, including the ever-popular reference 5711.
Patek Philippe Nautilus Timeline 2006 – 2020
- 2006 – Nautilus “Jumbo” Reference 5711
- 2006 – Midsize Nautilus Reference 5800
- 2006 – Nautilus Reference 5712 with subsidiary seconds dial, power-reserve indicator, moon-phase, and date
- 2006 – Nautilus Chronograph Reference 5980
- 2008 – Nautilus “Jumbo” Reference 5713 with diamond bezel
- 2008 – Full diamond Nautilus “Jumbo” reference 5719
- 2008 – Diamond-set Bezel Nautilus Reference 5722 with leather strap
- 2009 – Ladies Quartz Nautilus Reference 7011, and 7010 with diamond-set bezel
- 2010 – Nautilus Annual Calendar Reference 5726
- 2011 – Ladies Automatic Nautilus Reference 7008
- 2014 – Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph Reference 5990
- 2015 – Ladies Automatic Nautilus Reference 7118
- 2016 – White Gold Nautilus Chronograph 5976 40th Anniversary
- 2016 – Platinum Nautilus “Jumbo” 5711/1P 40th Anniversary
- 2018 – Nautilus Perpetual Calendar Reference 5740
- 2021 – Nautilus 5711 with olive green dial
- 2021 – Nautilus 5711 with diamond bezel and olive green dial
- 2021 – Rose Gold Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph Reference 5990/1R
- 2021 – Limited Edition “Tiffany & Co.” Nautilus Reference 5711/1A-018 (170 pieces only)
- 2021 – Tiffany-Blue Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 Sells For Over $6.5 million at auction
- 2022 – Nautilus 5711 is discontinued
- 2022 – Nautilus 5811 in white gold
Nautilus 5711 Discontinued
In 2021, Patek Philippe announced that it was soon going to discontinue the flagship Nautilus model, the 5711. However, before that happened the company released the 5711 with an olive green dial to replace the iconic blue-black dial variant. The olive green 5711 has become one of the most collectible Nautilus watches in today’s market. Then, a few months later, a limited edition Nautilus was unveiled to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the relationship between Patek Philippe and Tiffany & Co. Limited to only 170 examples, the Nautilus with the striking Tiffany blue dial sent shockwaves through the luxury watch industry and one even sold for an eye-watering $6.5 million at auction.
Finally, in 2022, Patek dropped all the Nautilus 5711 references from its catalog.
Nautilus 5811 Released
In October 2022, Patek Philippe announced the release of eight new watches, including three new Nautilus models: the Nautilus 5811 in white gold (the heir apparent to the 5711), the Nautilus 5712/1R in rose gold and the Nautilus Joaillerie 7118/1300R.