One of the new 2015 Patek Philippe watches is an all 18k rose gold version of the Nautilus known as the ref. 5177/1R – more specifically, the 5711/1R-001 – and here it is in the flesh. Patek Philippe is a brand mostly known for its immaculately conservative mechanical timepieces that hearken to the past as well as high auction results. While the Patek Philippe Nautilus isn’t exactly a niche model given its popularity, when seeing this new version of the high-end sports watch, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “would Patek Philippe come out with the Nautilus watch today?”
If you would have asked me the same question in 2014, I would have delivered an unequivocal “no” answer. The entire theme that Patek Philippe is going for these days is classic looks and traditional design. There is very little place in the brand for modern sports watches. Yes, ignore for a moment the existence of the Nautilus and its smaller brother the Aquanaut – and look at the rest of Patek’s watch family. You see a lot of long-sleeve watches and not much else at the house of Patek Philippe. Then again, if you would have asked me the same question after Baselworld 2015, I might have changed my mind – but just a bit. If you recall, Patek Philippe released the controversial Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524 watch that, while not modern looking, is in fact a sports watch (albeit in 18k white gold).
The Calatrava Pilot Time actually got me excited about Patek’s future offerings. One of the major reasons I have respect for Patek Philippe is that for so many years they were one of the innovative watch brands experimenting with a bevy of case, dial, and movement designs. Today, Patek feels the need to be a lot more stationary in their design, but you still see a hint of inspiration from time to time. If I could have a horological wish, it would be to see what a futuristic Patek Philippe (designed by Patek Philippe) would look like.
So, in speaking of sport watches (especially gold sport watches), let’s talk about this 18k rose gold Nautilus with a “groovy” brown gradient-colored dial. Is the Nautilus 1970s-tastic? Absolutely, and to fully appreciate the Nautilus experience, why not pair it with a period-friendly gradient dial? Patek Philippe originally introduced the Nautilus at a time when it was all the rage in the luxury watch industry to present high-end steel sports watches. This started with pieces like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Today, luxury sport watches are probably the most popular type of luxury watches – at least in the Western world, that is.
Speaking of the Royal Oak and the Nautilus, these iconic designs both have something in common – and that is being designed by Gerald Genta. It is really a shame that Gerald Genta passed away because I would really love the opportunity to speak with him today and ask him what he thinks about the popularity of his 1970s designs. Few people talk about Genta’s later designs, but what he did in mostly the 1970s is pretty much at the height of haute popularity these days.
One question I ask myself is why. What was it about Genta’s obsession with steel sports watches that have non-round cases and integrated bracelets that endures so well today? I am not sure that I know the answer, but I will continue to consider this – especially as watch brands in the last couple of decades have utterly failed to come up with anything even remotely as timeless and special. At the same time, we don’t really know what modern watches produced today or in the recent past will enjoy collector and stylistic popularity in the future.
While the original Gerald Genta-designed Patek Philippe Nautlilus watches were in steel, since then, Patek Philippe has, of course, produced various versions in gold. Many of those models have more complicated movements or are paired to leather straps. With the 2015 Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1R, we get a full 18k rose gold bracelet and 40mm-wide case. The side flanks allow the Nautilus to wear on the larger side, but it is true that from a dimensional standpoint, the Nautilus is not a large watch. Then again, that 40mm wide dimension doesn’t take into consideration the side flanks. The case is water resistant to 120 meters.
Case detailing is very good, in line with Patek Philippe expectations. That, naturally, means excellent finishing and polishing throughout. In fact, one of the principle benefits of the Patek Philippe Nautilus is the excellent contrast polishing which allows you to appreciate the details of the case. Lesser finishing or corner-cutting wouldn’t cut it. One of the things that I appreciate about the Patek Philippe Nautilus is that without that Patek level of quality it would not be nearly as nice.
Perhaps, the most flattering compliment to Patek Philippe, Gerald Genta, and the Nautilus is how Apple borrowed these signature hands for many of the Apple Watch dials. Legible and attractive, I nevertheless still see sometimes these hands as hotdogs on sticks. With just the time and date, the basic Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 offers the core Nautilus experience even though more complicated versions exist.
Inside the Patek Philippe Nautilus is the in-house made caliber 324 S C automatic mechanical movement that is produced from 213 parts and just 3.3mm thick. The movement operates at 4Hz and has a maximum of 45 hours of power reserve. While still basic, the movement has a very high level of finishing along the lines of what you should expect from a Patek Philippe.
One of the most interesting elements of wearing a Nautilus is the bracelet. Surprisingly thin and comfortable, the bracelet has a very unique style of finishing as well as an uncommon deployant clasp style which is designed to be relatively flush with the rest of the bracelet.
In rose gold, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1R-001 is rather distinct from steel versions of the Nautilus. It looks great, and in some sense, much more “Patek luxury” than the steel version. Purists will likely complain that there is simply no reason for the Nautilus to be in gold and that there is nothing wrong with the steel version. But yeah, purists complain about most things. If you want the most “rich” Patek Philippe sport watch experience, then you want a gold watch – and you want it on a matching gold bracelet. While the 18k rose gold Patek Philippe Nautilus isn’t for everyone, and it is very expensive, it does satisfy and offers an almost unparalleled level of style and prestige. Price for the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1R-001 watch is $51,000. patek.com