History of Nautilus

Posted By: ADMIN

Published to Nautilus on Mar 31, 2020

The iconic watch - Patek Philippe’s Nautilus - is a design classic which is still incredibly popular over 40 years after it was introduced.

In 1976 it launched as a luxury sports watch, created by one of the world’s most well-known designers.

Here we look at its timeline and what makes this watch so well-loved:

How it all began

During the two decades before the Nautilus came to fruition, the luxury watch market was bursting with innovation and quality - think Rolex Submariner or Daytona…

Designers had come up with waterproof watches and gold dress watches. Steel ones were very much considered a poor version.

The 1950s brought about diver and pilot’s watches, but these weren’t created to be luxurious - they simply did their job. That’s where Patek brought something different.

Seiko had created a commercial quartz wristwatch called the Seiko Astron. Quartz was cheaper and trendier, according to the adverts and so to survive, brands had to make innovative watches to justify the prices.

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak

The Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet came onto the market in 1972. For the first time, a classy manufacturer was creating a watch made of stainless steel and the idea of a luxury sports watch was born.

Patek Philippe had to react to stay in the game - and the man to help the brand was the very same behind the Royal Oak - Gerald Genta.

He proposed a stainless-steel watch with a bold and angular design with amazing movement.

That design became known as the Nautilus.

The first Nautilus ~ reference 3700

The stainless-steel watch, with integrated bracelet, large case and bold design was an immense move but it became synonymous with the brand.

The name was chosen in reference to Captain Nemo’s vessel in Jules Verne’s 1870 novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The overall shape is inspired by the “porthole” and shows two “ears”, reminiscent of the hinges that can be found on ships windows.

Hailed a proper sports watch, the solid Nautilus had delicate movement and dial and was water-resistant to 120m, again fitting the aquatic theme.

Versions of the Nautilus

There were originally two versions of the 3700 - one with a straight and one with a tapered bracelet - and in the end there were several versions of the watch with different tones used. The most popular was a dark blue dial.

At first, demand for the Nautilus was slow but this changed in 1980 when Patek Philippe introduced a ladies’ Nautilus with a quartz movement and debuted a mid-size men’s version (Reference 3800) at 37mm diameter, a year later.

The following years saw many versions of the original including some with Roman numerals or added in gold.

Patek launched reference 3710 in 1999 at 42mm diameter with a power-reserve indicator.

Other models included reference 3712 in 2005, which boasted a moon phase indicator. The Patek Philippe Ref 5711/1A debuted in 2006 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Nautilus. It was an instant hit with collectors for its sophisticated and clean lines design.

Patek now makes many different versions of the Nautilus, which was given a relaunch for its 40th anniversary, in rose gold, white gold, and stainless steel, with various complications.

But the simplest references reminiscent of the original, are the most coveted.