Nautilus Ref. 3700/001A | Full-Set | steel
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 (ref. 3700/001A) 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 Oak by 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. The reference 3700 Nautilus is often referred to as ‘Jumbo’, on account of its relatively imposing size for the period.
The ref. 3700/001A was not only unprecedented in its design, but also in its initial pricing to consumers. When the Nautilus was released, the retail price for the watch was $3,100 - considerable for the time, and comparable to many of Patek Philippe’s gold dress watches. At the time of its release, the world was already shifting towards highly-commercialized, quartz watchmaking. In 1969, Seiko launched the first quartz wristwatch - its success (and successors), driving the mechanical watch industry to critically low levels of production by the early 1980s. As a result of the Nautilus’ innovative design, only 3,300 examples of the 3700/001A are estimated to have been produced.
Like the Royal Oak, the Nautilus’ water-resistant technology (120 meters) required innovative strategy. Gerald Genta’s inspiration for the iconic Nautilus architecture was to replicate that of the secure ‘porthole’ windows, found on transatlantic ocean liners, complete with a two-piece, solid mono-block and octagonal bezel, secured by four lateral screws (concealed at 3 and 9 o’clock), holding the case tightly together.
This steel, Nautilus 3700/001A watch is the perfect balance between utilitarian function and elegant design. The case and bracelet are excellently finished, with beveled, polished and granular surfaces. At 42mm in diameter, and only 7.6mm thick, the 3700 case is a beautiful twist of perspectives and size. The inner-case-back correctly displays the watch’s unique serial number (534 XXX), as well as the reference number ‘3700/1’, below the manufacture’s signature.
The service-replacement, ridged dial displays horizontal grooves with deep blue-grey colouration. The applied hour markers are lume-filled, with ‘dot’ outer-minute divisions, service-replacement baton-hands (with luminous inserts) and a date aperture at 3 o’clock.
The Nautilus 3700/001A is powered by the ultra-slim calibre 28-255C, derived from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s legendary ultra-thin JLC 920 calibre movement. The caliber 2121 was based on the caliber 2120, an initial project of Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1967, funded and contributed to by Patek Philippe, and famous for its adoption by Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin (found in the Royal Oak 5402 and VC 222). The 28-255C calibre features Patek Philippe's famed free-sprung Gyromax balance, with four ruby wheels to support the full-diameter rotor, which runs on a beryllium rail for stability. The solid-gold rotor is finished in classic Patek Philippe style, with circular Geneva stripes. The Patek Philippe calibre 28-255C remains one of the thinnest full-rotor self-winding movements in the world, considered by many as one of the most stunningly refined and technically impressive wrist-watch movements ever made. Importantly, its movement serial number (1.304.XXX) corresponds with its year of production.
Two versions of the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700 existed, carrying the references 3700/001A and later, the ref. 3700/011A - with two subtle variations in bracelet design. The links of the ref. 3700/001 are noticeably-wider and straighter than the ref. 3700/011A, which featured a more exaggerated bracelet taper. Further to this, the bracelets found in earlier examples (like this 3700/001A) have fewer links, owing to each individual links’ larger size). The steel 3700/001A (with larger bracelet) was produced from 1976-82. The clasp of this 3700/001A bracelet corresponds to earlier examples of the 3700/001A, simply featuring “PATEK PHILIPPE GENÉVE”, “STEEL INOX”, and “SWISS MADE” engraved.
The present example was manufactured in 1977, evidenced by the two accompanying Archive Extracts, confirming the date of sale - or in this case the date of delivery to an authorised distributer - as January 11th, 1978. From here, the watch was delivered to Spanish retailer ‘Relojeria Baena’; at the time, based in Zaragoza.
According to its Certificate of Origin, this 3700/001A was sold by the retailer in October 1978. Interestingly, although perhaps somewhat pedantically, we also know this Certificate would have been printed by Patek Philippe in January 1978, based on the “PAON” code referenced at the bottom of it - again tallying perfectly with the date found on the Archive Extract.
This 3700/001A Nautilus comes as a full-set; including an original, early Patek Philippe black oval box (complete with the retailers sticker on the reverse).
In 2006, Patek Philippe marked the 30th anniversary of the Nautilus by introducing the reference 5711/1A, which itself has already achieved something akin to a cult-like status. This full-set, 3700/001A (with service-replacement dial) therefore represents an exceptional opportunity to acquire the founding reference of what is today, one of the world's rarest and most desirable vintage sports watches.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.
|Model:||Nautilus 3700/001A ('A' denoting 'acier' or 'steel')|
|Movement:||automatic-winding calibre 28-255C|
|Functions:||date, hours, minutes|
|Features:||service-replacement dial and hands, unsigned crown|
|Case:||original 42mm stainless steel|
|Bracelet:||3700/001A stainless steel bracelet, correctly signed clasp|
|Year:||12th October 1978 (purchase date)|
|Box & papers:||original black oval box, Certificate of Origin, Extract from the Archives, Patek Philippe service receipt (May 2017)|
This 3700/001A Nautilus comes as a full-set; including an original, early Patek Philippe black oval box (complete with the retailers sticker on the reverse). The case and bracelet are excellently finished, with beveled, polished and granular surfaces - displaying only minor superficial marks/grazes. Both the case and bracelet are original to the watch, with appropriately corresponding signatures throughout (wider-link bracelet, produced between 1976-82, Nautilus” only “PATEK PHILIPPE GENÉVE”, “STEEL INOX”, and “SWISS MADE” on clasp). The bracelet has some stretch, consistent with use. The inner-case-back correctly displays the watch’s unique serial number (539 XXX), as well as the reference number ‘3700/1’, below the manufacture’s signature. The applied hour markers are luminous-filled, while the service-replacement baton-hands have matching luminosity. The service-replacement dial of this 3700/001A is in excellent condition. The 28-255C calibre movement of this 3700/001A is fully-serviced and comes with a two-year warranty from A Collected Man.
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