The Patek Philippe Nautilus

The Patek Philippe Nautilus

Watches |2 November 2020

The Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A-010

The most sought-after watch in the world?

To the everyday man on the street, their aspirational purchase is most likely to be Rolex, but for those in the know, the true pinnacle of “Haute” horology is Patek Philippe. Patek Philippe is a brand steeped in history, world records, and innovative design. It’s therefore ironic, that despite being known for its complications, the brand’s most popular watch contains merely a date feature.


Patek Nautilus


The history of the Patek Philippe Nautilus dates back to 1976. Four years earlier in 1972 the now-famous Audemars Piguet Royal Oak had been released. Although they were unaware at the time, this watch would come to change the world of luxury watchmaking, to the present day, where steel is often king. Today, steel is the metal of choice for most, but prior to the Royal Oak, the preferred material had always been precious metals such as Gold and Platinum. Thus, the Royal Oak, manufactured in steel ushered in the era of the “SteelSports” watch. Patek Philippe, therefore, needed to evolve to keep up with this changing market, they needed to create their own steel sports watch.

Who could be entrusted to design such a watch? Well, thankfully the perfect candidate existed: none other than Gerald Genta. Genta’s style oozes through most of the modern offerings of the major watch houses today, and his accreditations are unrivalled in the field of watch design. Perhaps his most notable achievement was that only four years earlier he had designed the very watch Patek Philippe was looking to rival, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

Gerald Genta has previously recounted that he designed the watch in a mere five minutes at a restaurant during the Basel Trade Fair, whilst observing executives of Patek Philippe eating in the corner of the restaurant.  The shape itself was inspired by that of a porthole of transatlantic ocean liners.

Fast forward to today, and the Patek Philippe Nautilus has celebrated its 40th anniversary and can be purchased in multiple metals as well as with numerous complications. Nevertheless, of all the possible combinations, the popularity of the 5711/1A-010 is unrivalled.

The 5711/1A was launched in 2006, marking the 30th anniversary of the Patek Philippe Nautilus, and forms the foundation of all modern Nautilus. Its predecessor the Patek Philippe 3700 ran from 1976 to 1990, and while it saw some success, it pales into insignificance compared with the popularity of the 5711/1A-010.


Its case measures in at 40 mm, and its design was updated from its predecessor from a mono-bloc composition to a three-part case, complete with a separate case back and integrated sapphire crystal. The “ears” had also been subtly changed with a slight curvature in order to better blend with the bezel. The watch is fitted on a steel integrated bracelet with high polished “mirror” centre links and double fold-over clasp.

An iconic feature of 5711/1A is its distinctive blue-black gradient dial with horizontal groves. The 3700 has the same dial finish, however, the emphasis of the blue in this new watch was intensified. Whereas one might describe its predecessor a black-blue, the new 5711/1A was certainly a blue-black. The blue itself was more impactful, often described as electric. Its luminescent applied indexes, as well as large bold hands, are manufactured in white gold.

The 5711/1A was launched with the calibre 324 SC, consisting of 213 parts, including a 21k automatic rotor, Gyromax balance, Spyromax balance spring and 29 jewels. All this was combined to make an extremely thin movement, 3.3mm thick, operating at 28,800 vph with a power reserve of 45 hours. It truly is a beautiful movement and one that lucky owners can admire through the watch’s clear sapphire crystal case back.


Fast forward to 2020, and the 5711/1A is still in production today, making it one of Patek’s longest-running production watches. Aside from its movement which experienced an update in 2019, it is much the same as its launch in 2006.

That doesn’t mean demand for this watch has waned though; In fact, demand has boomed. Walk into any authorized Patek Philippe dealership around the world and the chances of acquiring one of these fantastic watches is slim to none (that is if you haven’t already been laughed out the door).

As a result of this extraordinary popularity, prices for these pieces have continued to rise.

Looking back on the events that occurred in 1976 when Patek Philippe first embarked on the creation of the Nautilus, they were undoubtedly feeling the pressure. First, the Swiss watch industry was in the middle of the “Quartz crisis”, its biggest crisis to date, and one of their biggest competitors had just released a watch that was changing the landscape of an already struggling industry. To put it bluntly, they were on the ropes. At war with the quartz watch, as well as Audemars Piguet. I suspect the creation of the Nautilus was a somewhat “Hail Mary”; a last-ditch attempt to save a brand steeped in history. I imagine the directors and innovators at the time would look back with a smile knowing that although they didn’t start this war, they certainly won it. No watch has come close to achieving the popularity and desirability of the phenomenon that is the Patek Philippe 5711/1A.

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