2016 marks the 40th birthday of Patek Philippe’s Nautilus collection, and the Geneva manufacture was sure to mark this important anniversary in a special way. Two new watches – a time-only three-hander in platinum and a chronograph in white gold – are produced in limited numbers for this occasion. But before a closer look at the anniversary pair, let us briefly revisit the history of this truly iconic sports watch.
The Nautilus is in a rarefied league that includes only a handful of select timepieces, ones that manage to take refinement and extremely high quality of execution of top-tier manufacturer and mix it with the rugged, go-anywhere, more relaxed aesthetics that the modern man, and woman, has grown to demand.
There is something unquestionably cool and lust-worthy about a beautifully made luxury watch that looks not finicky and fragile, but ready to accompany its wearer no matter the situation – the Nautilus, with its nautical theme, robust case styling and bold details, is definitely such a piece.
Originally designed by renowned watch designer, the late Gerald Genta, was launched as the Reference 3700/1A in steel back in 1976, joining the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak of 1972. They paved the way for the next generation of luxury watches, ones designed to impress through both utter refinement and sportier looks.
A lesser known fact – that nonetheless makes perfect sense after you think about it – is that the Nautilus was the first sports watch ever made by Patek Philippe in its 137-year history at the time of its 1976 release. What made the 3700/1A really stand out were two lateral case extension ridges at the 9 and 3 o’clock sides, resembling hinges seen on porthole windows, serving to join the two-part case ensemble with lateral screws. To further enhance its masculine and bold looks, its crystal was framed by an octagonal bezel with gently curved sides and rounded corners, highlighted by a clever mix of brushed and polished finishing.
While the first ever Nautilus, the ref. 3700/1A, was in production from 1976 all the way until 1990 in stainless steel, throughout these years different new models were introduced, clad in new materials.
The two new anniversary pieces remind us of this heritage and are presented not in steel but in 18k white gold for the chronograph ref. 5976/1G, while the ref. 5711/1P, as fans of the brand will already be able to tell from that reference, is in platinum.
The former is a whopping 49.25mm wide, including the crown and case “ears” which may strike some as a surprise, but bear in mind that the lug-to-lug distance is a highly wearable 49.6mm. Nonetheless the wrist real estate reserved by the ref. 5976/1G will be substantial.
Equipped with Patek Philippe’s CH 28-520 C chronograph movement with automatic winding and flyback functions, the Nautilus chronograph is made all the sweeter by the inclusion of a column wheel and vertical clutch, making the movement a truly remarkable calibre in modern Swiss watchmaking. Its finishing will of course meet the strict standards of the Patek Philippe Seal that dictates decoration and reliability.
On the dial you will find a blue PVD coated brass dial with 18k white gold framed baguette and princess-cut diamond indices, as well as a 12-hour and 60-minute sub-dial counter reserved for the chronograph functions. In the upper segment of the dial sits the stamped text “1976-40-2016”, made decidedly noticeable to mark the difference between this edition and other Nautilus chronographs – as well as to celebrate this 40-year anniversary in a bold style, unusual for Patek Philippe. Its size and dial design has rendered the ref. 5976/1G a controversial release, subject to heated discussions by the fans of the brand – but make no mistake, the 1,300 numbered pieces will certainly make for short supply soon enough.
Less controversial and more restrained is the ref. 5711/1P, in a 44.05mm wide (from crown to “ear”) or 44mm lug-to-lug platinum case, matched with a beautifully crafted bracelet also in platinum.
Hours, minutes, seconds and date are the only functions the calibre 324 S C inside will provide, along with automatic winding via a 21k gold rotor as well as Patek Philippe Seal-worthy finishing on all bridges and plates.
The dial is somewhat more restrained on this 3-hand model, with a more sensible layout of celebratory dates of “40” followed by “1976-2016” – and the blue PVD finishing on the dial is actually over an 18k yellow gold disc, not brass.
Available in an edition of just 700 pieces, the three-hand version, even in platinum, serves as a magnificent tribute to the original ref. 3700/1A – clearly letting the world know that we can only look forward to another decade of Nautilus excellence, with its special mix of robust looks and stunningly high-quality details.
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