A mid-size Nautilus
The reference 3800/1J (seen in this example), was first produced in the early 1980s, as an alternative to the ‘Jumbo’ 3700 - with a reduced diameter of 37.5mm - in response to the initial slow start of the original reference. As with all Nautilus examples, the reference 3800/1 features an integrated, water-tight "porthole" case, famously penned by Mr. Gérald Genta.
In essence, the reference 3800 is a scaled-down version of the 3700. The watch displays a similar yellow gold ridged dial, with horizontal grooves, found on one of the rarest variants of the 3700 in yellow gold. It also features similar applied tritium-filled hour markers, white outer-minute divisions, polished baton hands with luminous inserts and a date aperture at 3 o’clock.
An all-gold design
An all-gold Nautilus is a bit of a paradox. The Nautilus was originally conceived as a luxury steel watch, yet its design and proportions render wonderfully when executed in yellow gold. This 3800J adopts the same key traits as the most elusive and attractive versions of the 3700J, which features a yellow gold case and matching yellow gold dial.
The all-gold design of the watch, with the subtle white date disc, emphasises its visual richness and vintage inspiration. In yellow gold models, the yellow gold dial also appears rarer than the blue. Though the blue dial has traditionally been the most popular variant, the vintage aesthetic and monochromatic appearance of a 3800/1J with a golden dial means it has recently started appealing to a growing number of collectors. This example is extremely well-preserved overall, retaining its original lines, a tight bracelet and a thick case.
With this example, the index-markers and hands are manufactured from yellow gold, indicated by the lower case Greek letter ‘sigma’ at the bottom of the dial. The ‘sigma’ signature was a visual declaration of the use of precious materials, and was adopted by a number of manufactures from the ’70s onwards - emphasising the inherent value of a high-quality, mechanical watch.
Like the ref. 3700, the case and integrated bracelet are excellently finished, with angular, beveled and polished edges. The polished bezel and case edges fantastically-contrast with the brushed surface of the case and bracelet. This particular 3800J features a seldom-seen "thin" bracelet, where the individual links are slimmer than those commonly found on most Nautilus 3800 watches.
The watch also features a white gold deployante buckle, as indicated by the '750' stamp visible on one of the blades. At 37.5mm in diameter, and only 7.5mm thick, this 3800 Nautilus case is an elegant twist of perspectives and size, and wears comfortably on the wrist.
As a result of Patek Philippe's decision to develop its own in-house, ultra-slim movement, the reference 3800 features an updated calibre 335 S C (for “seconde centrale” or “central second”), replacing the previous calibre 28-255C movement.
The calibre 335 S C features 29 jewels, a straight-line lever escapement, monometallic balance; adjusted to cold, heat, isochronism, and 5 positions, a self-compensating flat balance spring and shock absorber mechanism. Furthermore, the solid-gold rotor is finished in classic Patek Philippe style, with circular Geneva stripes.
This Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800/1J is accompanied by an Extract from the Archives (to follow). It also comes with its original outer box and wooden inner box. While steel models came in a different style of box, the gold models were almost always accompanied by a wooden box in this style.
It comes with its original 3800/001 yellow gold bracelet (with "thin" links) and signed white gold clasp. This particular example comes with a full complement of 23 links, including 10 removable ones, which is rather unusual to find.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.
To find out more about the Nautilus 3800, read our in-depth Collector's Guide.