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 40th Anniversary Edition
In 2016, Patek Philippe marked the 40th Anniversary of the Nautilus by introducing two new watches; the Ref. 5976/1G Chronograph in white gold and Ref. 5711/1P in platinum.
Produced in a limited edition of 1,300 examples, the 5976/1G features commemorative embossing on the dial between ten and two o'clock, celebrating the passage of time, with the indexes further embellished with nine baguette-cut diamonds and three princess-cut diamonds, to mark the hours.
The 5976/1G re-interprets a number of signature design elements from previous iterations of the Nautilus - mostly notably the furrowed gradient blue dial, coloured to a vibrant blue for this special edition. Like many of its predecessors, it features an oversized case (44mm), classing it amongst Patek Philippe’s ‘Jumbo’ collection. The white gold, three-piece case provides water resistance up to 120m, with a large screw-down crown.
The case and bracelet
The case and bracelet of this Nautilus 5976/1G-001 are excellently finished, with beveled, polished and granular surfaces. The white gold bracelet has virtually no stretch, with flat central links. At 44mm in diameter, and 12.16mm thick, the 5976G case is a unique twist of perspectives and size.
The reference 5976/1G-001 is powered by Patek Philippe’s in-house calibre CH 28-520 C, an automatic flyback chronograph movement, with a column wheel and a vertical clutch, plus a date function. It features 35 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 6 positions. Furthermore, the 22k solid-gold micro-rotor is finished in classic Patek Philippe style, with Geneva stripes, visible through the sapphire crystal display-back.
This Patek Philippe 40th Anniversary Nautilus Ref. 5976/1G-001 comes with its original cork box (reminiscent of the original 1976 Nautilus box), Certificate of Origin and product literature.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.