History of the Nautilus
The early 1970s was a time of great change within the watch industry. At the time of its release, the world was already shifting towards highly-commercialised, quartz watchmaking. In 1969 Seiko launched the first quartz wristwatch, and its success drove the mechanical watch industry to critically low levels of production by the early 1980s.
Furthermore, 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, equally designed by Mr Genta. The Nautilus offered a different take on the idea of a luxury sports watch, though - like the Royal Oak - it was made in stainless steel for the standard version.
The original 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.
The design of the original 3700
Remarkably, Gerald Genta is said to have sketched the 3700’s design whilst dining meters away from Patek Philippe executives. His “five minutes of work”, is today considered one of the masterpieces of modern design. Its etymology comes from Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, after the ‘Nautilus’ submarine, used by Captain Nemo.
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.
The reference 3710
Following the introduction of the original Nautilus, Patek Philippe experimented with different case sizes, materials and dial designs throughout the 1980s and 1990s. All of the variations introduced during this period were executed in smaller sizes and limited themselves to displaying the time and the date.
Introduced in 1998, the Nautilus 3710/1A marked a departure from this trend: it was the first-ever Nautilus to feature a complication other than the date function, with the integration of a power reserve indicator. It also marked the first time that the "Jumbo" case proportions were used in a Nautilus other than the original 3700, as part of an effort to re-introduce the 42mm case diameter prized by collectors.
Exclusively produced in stainless steel until it was discontinued in 2006, the 3710/1A features a matte black dial with applied Roman numerals. The power reserve complication, or IZR for Indication de Zone de Remontage, is displayed between 11 and 12 o’clock, an interesting asymmetric placement which adds to the charm of the reference. Due to the placement of the complication, the "Patek Philippe Geneve" signature is unusually placed at 6 o'clock, with a date indicator preserved at 3 o'clock.
The case and bracelet
The case and bracelet of this Nautilus 3710/1A are excellently finished, with beveled, polished and granular surfaces. The steel bracelet has virtually no stretch, with flat central links. At 42mm in diameter and 8mm in thickness, the 3710/1A retains a slim profile despite the added complication.
The reference 3710/1A is powered by the self-winding calibre 330 SC. It features 29 jewels, a straight-line lever escapement, shock absorber mechanism a self-compensating flat balance spring and a monometallic balance, adjusted to cold, heat, isochronism and 5 positions. Furthermore, the solid-gold rotor is finished in classic Patek Philippe style, with circular Geneva stripes.
This Patek Philippe Nautilus 3710/1A is accompanied by an Extract from the Archives, which confirms that the watch was produced in 1999 and subsequently sold on May 16th, 2000.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.