More than forty years have passed since the introduction of the original Patek Philippe Nautilus and this now classic timepiece, is more popular than ever. Originally unveiled in the mid-1970s and designed by the legendary Gérald Genta, the Nautilus has become a veritable horological icon thanks to its pioneering role amongst high-end, luxury sports watches.
The Nautilus was released later than the Royal Oakby Audemars Piguet and offered a different take on the idea of a luxury sports watch, though, like the Royal Oak (equally designed by Mr Genta), it was made in steel (for the standard version). The early 1970s was a time of great change within the watch industry, where the concept of a luxury watch in steel was a truly revolutionary idea.
In 1976, the introduction of Patek Philippe’s Nautilus firmly altered the direction of luxury sports watch design – offering a true competitor to Audemars Piguet's then four-year-old Royal Oak. Early examples of the Nautilus are now highly sought-after by collectors, commanding increasing prices in the vintage market.
Remarkably, Gerald Genta is said to have sketched the Nautilus’ design whilst dining meters away from Patek Philippe executives. His “five minutes of work”, is today considered one of the masterpieces of modern watch design. Its etymology comes from Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, after the ‘Nautilus’ submarine, used by Captain Nemo.