First launched by Patek Philippe 45 years ago, few timepieces enjoy the iconic status of the stainless steel Nautilus. Its elegant and sporty demeanour was fresh and new. The case design, inspired by the structure and hinges of a ship’s porthole, and the octagonal bezel with rounded corners, departed from conventional design. The choice of material was surprising, too, for a luxury watch, and also a novelty from the Swiss family-owned brand, with platinum and gold being the favoured precious metals. Over the decades, the Nautilus family has evolved, with many different references added, and it now comprises a collection for men and women with more than 25 versions, in stainless steel, rose gold, white gold, and bicolour steel and rose gold.
When it was announced in January this year that the flagship Ref 5711 /1A – in stainless steel with a gradated blue dial – was being retired, Patek pundits the world over, including many aficionados on the (often reported as 10-year) waitlist held their breath to see what might replace it.
Well, the enthusiasts can breathe again, happily, with the recent launch of the new steel version with a special olive green dial that will be produced for just one year. Continuing the marine motif, the sunburst dial colour is reminiscent of the Mediterranean, symbolising good luck and health. The 40mm case is elegant and versatile, the self-winding movement offers a 45-hour power reserve, and it is water resistant to 120 metres. The contours of the Nautilus are complemented by the interplay of satin-brushed and polished finissage on the bezel, the case, and the bracelet. For every watch, the manual work involved requires 55 individual finishing steps.
This version is also available with a bezel set with 3.6ct of fabulous internally flawless baguette cut diamonds, usually only paired with precious metal, an audacious combination of steel and ice. The Nautilus has become a genuine cult object of casual elegance.
Ref. 5711/1A-014, £26,870, Ref. 5711/1300A-001 (with diamond-set bezel), £72,860; patek.com