From Snail To Grail
Maxim|September - October 2019

How the Patek Philippe Nautilus became one of the most coveted watches in the world

Jared Paul Stern

Patek Philippe was founded in Geneva in 1839. It is by no means the world’s oldest watchmaker, but in the past 180 years it has certainly become the most prestigious. The brand has created some of the costliest and most complicated timepieces on the planet, and while its overall design ethos can be described as staunchly traditional, with the basic outlines of its most popular pieces having changed little over the last several decades, one of its most atypical, and originally unloved, designs has suddenly become its most popular.

The Nautilus, designed by horological legend Gérald Genta, creator of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak among others, and introduced in 1976, was made to resemble a ship’s porthole with its rounded octagonal bezel, and was Patek’s attempt at a contemporary high-end sports watch in lowly stainless steel at a time when gold watches were all the rage. Sized at a generous 42mm it sported a grooved deep blue dial. As WatchTime reports, the conservative company was not without reservations about it. Demand for the watch was slow at first, the magazine notes, and its popularity has waxed and waned over the years along with changing tastes, with gold versions introduced to up the luxe factor. In the past few years however stainless steel Nautilus models, in particular the reference 5711, have skyrocketed in popularity.

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