The Patek Philippe Nautilus
When Geneva-based manufacturer Patek Philippe first introduced the Nautilus in 1976, no one could have imagined what a success the watch would become in the decades to come. It took courage to release a stainless steel luxury watch at a time when every other expensive timepiece was made entirely of gold. The brand marketed their new watch with a very apt slogan, “One of the most expensive watches in the world is made of steel.” Gérald Genta, the designer of famous Omega and Audemars Piguet watches, was the man behind the Nautilus’ legendary look. The octagonal porthole design with rounded edges is iconic today.
The Patek Philippe Nautilus on the Secondary Market
Today, Patek Philippe also offers the Nautilus in various white or rose gold editions; however, two stainless steel versions remain the most popular: the 5711/1A-010 and the 5712/1A-001. Extremely high demand has made it nearly impossible to obtain these watches from official retailers, particularly the 5711/1A-010, which has seen its prices skyrocket over the past few years. That being said, the brand was hesitant to become too attached to a single model. When the hype got to be too much, Patek decided to cease production of the model in 2021 and release a successor with a green dial under ref. 5711/1A-014.
The Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A
Elegant, timeless, and simple: These words perfectly capture the essence of the three-hand ref. 5711/1A-010 with a blue dial. The unpretentious design is somehow both revolutionary and reserved. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, this Nautilus is coveted more than any other watch in the collection. It should come as no surprise, then, that this is the best-selling Nautilus on Chrono24.
The 5711/1A-010’s value has soared in recent years, particularly since the brand discontinued the reference. While the watch’s official list price was “just” $30,620, it was trading at over $133,000 in April 2021. That was up from $85,000 in January of the same year – an appreciation of over 55%! The lucky few who were able to get their hands on the watch for its MSRP can look forward to a return of some 300%. Speculation around this single model was the final straw for Patek Philippe’s president and owner Thierry Stern, who ultimately put the brake on production.
In addition to its attractive aesthetics, financial performance, and status, the Nautilus has a lot to offer in terms of quality. The 40-mm case is water-resistant to 120 m (12 bar, 394 ft), which is rather unusual for a sporty dress watch. Of course, you’d almost expect that from a watch that shares a name with what is probably the most famous submarine in literary history. The in-house caliber 26‑330 S C ticks away inside, complete with a 21-karat gold rotor, Gyromax balance wheel, and Spiromax hairspring. The movement boasts a power reserve of 48 hours.
Patek Philippe’s own quality seal is one of the strictest in the industry and guarantees accuracy to +2/-3 seconds per day. The seal doesn’t just cover the movement, however. It also applies to every other component, ensuring the highest level of production quality across the timepiece.
Reference 5711/1A-014: The First Nautilus With a Green Dial
In early 2021, Patek Philippe announced a farewell edition of the beloved 5711/1A-010. The new edition was ready just in time for Watches and Wonders in April. The final Nautilus 5711 features the affix 1A-014 and is identical to its predecessor except for its olive green dial. Many enthusiasts argued the watch was simply “the same in green,” but the color has been trending for some time now, and long waiting lists are once again anticipated.
At the time of writing, there weren’t any listings for this new reference on Chrono24, but prices will likely rise significantly. If someone offers you the chance to buy one for its recommended retail price ($34,893), go for it. If you want something even more exclusive, take a look at the ref. 5711/1300A. The bezel of this timepiece is set with 32 precious stones and has an official list price of $94,620.
Nautilus 5712 With a Moon Phase Display
The second best-selling Nautilus model is the ref.. Similar to its three-handed sister, waitlists are long, and prices on the secondary market are high. The watch is made of stainless steel and offers a small seconds, pointer date with a moon phase, and a power reserve display in addition to hours and minutes. All of this is powered by the automatic in-house caliber 240 PS IRM C LU, which is equipped with a 22-karat gold rotor and 45-hour power reserve. It also boasts a Gyromax balance wheel and Spiromax hairspring, as well as the prestigious Patek seal.
Although the watch is technically more complex than the three-hand model and has a higher official list price of $38,000, prices on the secondary market are lower. At the end of April, this reference was selling for just under $124,000, which is around $9,000 less than the 5711. Again, if you’re given the opportunity to buy this watch for near its list price, jump on it!
The Women’s Nautilus: The Ref. 4700
The third most popular Nautilus on Chrono24 is the ref. 4700. Patek Philippe made this quartz-powered women’s watch in the 1980s and 90s. It is available in solid 18-karat yellow gold and a two-tone combination of yellow gold and stainless steel. At just 27 mm in diameter, this model measures much smaller than its 40-mm counterpart and suits slim women’s wrists beautifully.
In addition to the various materials, the Nautilus ref. 4700 is available with several different dial options, including black, white, or gold. Depending on which version you choose, the dial will be equipped with bar indices, Roman numerals, or diamond hour markers. The ref. 4700/1 is particularly elegant with its yellow gold case and bracelet, black dial, and applied gold indices. You can purchase this classic model in good condition for around $12,000. Prices for this watch haven’t changed much in the past four years.
Prices go up if you’re looking for a watch with diamond hour markers. One such example, the ref. 4700/1J, costs around $17,000 pre-owned. Again, this price has remained stable in recent years.
Prices, Performance, and Recommendations
Generally speaking, Patek Philippe timepieces have great potential to appreciate in value. That being said, if you are thinking of buying a Patek Philippe Nautilus, especially one of the coveted refs. 5711/1A-010 or 5712/1A-001, make sure to ask yourself why you’re interested in the first place. If you want to buy the watch because you like it and the prestige that comes with it and price/performance is of secondary importance, you can’t go wrong with a serious offer.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to make an investment that will appreciate in value, make sure the price is right. It’s hard to say whether the potential for appreciation has been exhausted here. After all, we’re talking about a simple three-hand watch with a list price of less than $40,000 that currently sells for well above the $120,000 mark. In any case, the so-called equilibrium price has tended to run pretty hotly due to the high demand and low supply. As the saying goes, value is what someone is willing to pay.
In contrast, women’s models (ref. 4700) offer a relatively inexpensive entry point to the line and boast solid value retention.