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More than forty years has passed since the creation of the original Patek Philippe Nautilus and this now classic piece, is more popular than ever. First unveiled by Patek Philippe in the 1970s and designed by Gérald Genta - who incidentally designed the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak amongst others - the Nautilus has become a cultural icon due to its distinctive features and its role as a pioneer for 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 - it was made in stainless steel.
The reference 3800/1A (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 3800/1A 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 dark, ridged dial, with horizontal grooves (as seen in the 3700/1), along with applied tritium-filled hour markers, white outer-minute divisions, polished baton hands (with luminous inserts) and a date aperture at 3 o’clock.
The Nautilus 3800 was produced with a range of dials. Of these variants, four different types were available for the steel version: dark blue with baton markers, white with baton markers, charcoal grey with Arabic numerals and black with applied roman numerals. This example features the most recognisable version, seen on the original Nautilus.
An early example
However, far from being uniform, the dial of this 3800 has developed a very subtle green colour, displaying a gradient of greenish-blue tones throughout. This variation is a result of changes in the production process throughout the early lifecycle of the reference, ageing over time, or a combination of the two. Such colour changes have also been observed examples of the 3700, where such variances in dial colour are most commonly associated with specific types of dials. The “PATEK PHILIPPE GENEVE” signature at 12 o’clock also shows an accent above the second “E” in “GENEVE”, with the majority of the production not having one. The accent appears to be a feature of the earlier models, for the first 10 years or so of production. Complementing the dial, is the rarer, dark-coloured date disc.
With this example, the index-markers and hands are manufactured from white gold, indicated by the lower case Greek letter ‘Sigma’ at the bottom of the dial. Three types of signatures exist: “σ · SWISS · σ”, “σ SWISS σ” and “SWISS”. This is to signify the use of gold on the dial, in the form of applied markers. It is safe to say that any watch produced prior to 1995 which has gold on the dial – that is to say all ridged dials with applied indexes – should feature one of the two sigma signatures.
Like the ref. 3700, the case and the original integral 3800/001 stainless steel bracelet and signed clasp are excellently finished, with angular, beveled and polished edges. The polished screws, bezel and case edges fantastically-contrast with the brushed surface of the case and bracelet. At 37.5mm in diameter, and only 7.5mm thick, the 3800 Nautilus case is well proportioned 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.
Overall, this Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800/1A is well preserved, boasting a nicely-preserved thick case and bracelet. It comes with its Certificate of Origin, confirming sale in 1985, and leather folder.
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Nautilus Ref. 3800/1A
mechanical automatic Cal. 335 SC
date, hours, minutes, central seconds
dark blue ridged dial
37.5mm stainless steel
large-link 3800/001 stainless steel bracelet, signed clasp
Box & papers:
Certificate of Origin, leather folder, product literature
This Patek Philippe Nautilus3800/1A comes with its Certificate of Origin, confirming sale in 1985, and leather folder. It is well preserved, boasting a nicely-preserved thick case and bracelet. Both the case and bracelet are original to the watch, with appropriately corresponding signatures throughout and a full complement of 22 original links (8 removable). The applied hour markers are (original) tritium-filled, with ‘dot’ outer-minute divisions and polished baton-hands (with luminous inserts). The 335 S C calibre movement of this 3800/1A comes with a two-year warranty from A Collected Man.
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