The Patek Philippe Nautilus: Luxury in Stainless Steel
The Patek Philippe Nautilus is one of the world's most famous and coveted luxury watches. Its value has skyrocketed in recent years, making it a great investment. Vintage watches, in particular, sell for astronomical prices.
One of the Most Expensive Stainless Steel Sports Watches
"One of the world's costliest watches is made of steel." That's how Patek Philippe advertised the Nautilus in the 1970s. Today, this luxury sports watch is one of the most sought-after and famous timepieces in the world. Demand is so high that waiting lists are often several years long. Those who don't want to wait can purchase a Nautilus online, though at a much higher price.
The Patek Philippe Nautilus has greatly increased in value in recent years. In early 2015, the ref. 5711/1A-010 with a blue dial cost around 25,500 USD. As of spring 2021, a mint-condition timepiece demands more than 110,000 USD. This sudden rise can be attributed to Patek announcing their plans to discontinue the stainless steel 5711 earlier in the year. The manufacturer also raised the official list price leading up to the announcement, going from just under 25,000 USD to roughly 30,000 USD. In April 2021, Patek launched a "farewell" successor model, the ref. 5711/1A-014, at Watches and Wonders in Geneva. This timepiece's most unique feature is its olive green sunburst dial, a first for the collection. It has a list price of 34,893 USD.
The collection's flagship model entered the market in 2018. It is made of white gold and contains an in-house caliber with a perpetual calendar. The automatic caliber is only 3.88 mm thick, resulting in a watch with a total height of 8.42 mm. This makes the Nautilus 5740 especially flat and, thus, an ideal dress watch.
5 Reasons to Buy a Nautilus
- One of the world's most sought-after sport watches
- World-famous porthole design by Gérald Genta
- A great investment: fantastic performance in recent years
- Top models with a chronograph and second time zone or perpetual calendar
- Vintage watches especially popular among collectors and fans
Prices at a Glance: Patek Philippe Nautilus
|Reference number||Price (approx.)||Width (10 to 4 o'clock), material, complications|
|5740/1G-001||233,000 USD||40 mm, white gold, perpetual calendar|
|5980/1R-001||227,000 USD||40.5 mm, rose gold, chronograph|
|3700||145,000 USD||40 mm, stainless steel, date|
|5711/1A-010||137,000 USD||40 mm, stainless steel, date|
|5990/1A-001||127,000 USD||40.5 mm, stainless steel, chronograph, second time zone|
|5712/1A-001||114,000 USD||40 mm, stainless steel, small seconds, pointer date, moon phase, power reserve indicator|
|5726A-001||76,000 USD||Stainless steel, 40.5 mm, annual calendar, moon phase|
|3800||41,000 USD||37.5 mm, stainless steel, date|
How much does a Patek Philippe Nautilus cost?
One of the most coveted Nautilus watches is the standard edition with the reference number 5711. The version with a blue dial (ref. 5711/1A-010) is especially highly sought-after and expensive. In early 2021, this timepiece demanded around 110,000 USD. A year prior, the same watch was selling for only 76,000 USD – that's an increase of nearly 45%. Both amounts are significantly higher than its official list price of 30,620 USD. Patek has since ceased production of this model, making it nearly impossible to find from authorized dealers.
Its sister model with a white dial (ref. 5711/1A-011) has performed similarly well and sells for approximately 104,000 USD. In early 2020, you could have purchased the same watch for about 76,000 USD, representing growth of around 37%. Patek has also retired this model. With patience and a fair amount of luck, you may be able to get your hands on the successor model, the ref. 5711/1A-014 with a green dial. The manufacturer lists this timepiece for 34,983 USD. An identical watch with 32 baguette-cut diamonds on its bezel is also available. You can find this version under the reference number 5711/1300A. Its recommended retail price sits at 92,624 USD.
The rose gold ref. 5711/1R is still rolling off the production lines and is only slightly more expensive than the stainless steel editions. You can purchase a never-worn example on Chrono24 for about 155,000 USD. At the start of 2018, it had a market value of around 54,500 USD. Its official list price is 59,140 USD.
You can save several thousand dollars by purchasing a pre-owned watch instead. A used stainless steel Nautilus with a blue dial requires an investment of roughly 112,000 USD. The variant with a white dial costs about 102,000 USD in the same condition, and the rose gold edition sells for around 138,000 USD.
Why is the Patek Philippe Nautilus so expensive?
The Patek Philippe Nautilus has always been one of the most expensive stainless steel sports watches. Its official list price is on par with that of gold watches or more complicated timepieces from other manufacturers. There's a good reason for the discrepancy between this model's list price and its market value.
The 5711's ballooning price is easily explained by Patek having discontinued the white edition in 2020 and the blue version in early 2021. This grabbed tons of headlines and drove demand for the Nautilus through the roof. Patek's daring move has also affected models from other manufacturers. For example, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref. 15202ST went from a value of 51,000 USD in early 2020 to around 109,000 USD in spring 2021. Once again, this increase can be traced back to Audemars Piguet announcing the 15202ST's retirement.
Prices continued to climb even after Thierry Stern, Patek Philippe's president, announced a successor to the blue 5711 at Watches and Wonders 2021. Anyone still on their authorized dealer's multi-year waitlist will likely have to pay a premium or go empty-handed.
The Nautilus' market value has far exceeded its list price for many years now. This is due to a combination of feverish hype and massive demand. Patek Philippe has always strictly limited their production numbers so that no single stainless steel model comes to dominate their entire catalog. Furthermore, the Genevan manufacturer puts tradition above all else and focuses much of their attention on elegant, highly complicated wristwatches. The brand has never considered increasing the Nautilus' production numbers in response to growing demand.
Ref. 5712 With a Moon Phase and Pointer Date
The Nautilus ref. 5712 is yet another popular model. Unlike the 5711, this timepiece has a small seconds dial, a pointer date with a moon phase display, and a power reserve indicator. The power reserve indicator sits between 10 and 11 o'clock; the pointer date and moon phase display between 6 and 8 o'clock; and the small seconds between 4 and 5 o'clock.
Inside the case, you'll find the in-house caliber 240 PS IRM C LU. This movement has an average power reserve of 48 hours.
The ref. 5712 comes in stainless steel, rose gold, or white gold. Patek pairs the gold models with leather straps. You can purchase the rose gold edition in mint condition for about 97,000 USD. The white gold model is slightly more affordable at roughly 80,000 USD. The most expensive version is made of stainless steel, which changes hands for around 114,000 USD. All three variants have market values that exceed their list prices. The stainless steel model boasts the greatest difference and officially costs 44,950 USD.
Ref. 5980: The Nautilus Chronograph
If you're on the market for a Nautilus with a chronograph function, you should take a closer look at the ref. 5980. Patek Philippe currently only offers this model in 18-karat rose gold or in a two-tone stainless steel and rose gold design. The stainless steel ref. 5980/1A-001 costs more than 145,000 USD new on Chrono24, making it only slightly more expensive than the three-hand ref. 5711. The rose-gold edition on a matching gold bracelet can be yours for around 227,000 USD. The 5980/R on an alligator leather strap sells for about 120,000 USD. Finally, the two-tone model with a steel and rose gold bracelet goes for roughly 121,000 USD.
Top Models With Intricate Complications
One of the collection's highlights is the Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph with a stopwatch function and second time zone. The Genevan manufacturer presented this complicated watch at Baselworld 2014. The automatic caliber CH 28-520 C FUS is the driving force behind this timepiece. In addition to a pointer date, the Travel Time Chronograph ref. 5990 has a day/night display for both time zones. Even though it is one of the most complicated Nautilus models, at about 127,000 USD, prices for this watch are lower than those for the three-hand Nautilus. The Nautilus Chronograph is also more expensive. In 2021, Patek launched the ref. 5990/1R-001, a rose gold watch with a blue dial. It has an official list price of 106,450 USD.
The series' top model is the Nautilus Perpetual Calendar with the reference number 5740. Thanks to the in-house caliber 240 Q's micro-rotor, this white gold watch is only 8.42 mm thick. This is a millimeter thinner than the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. The Patek displays the month and leap year at 3, the date and moon phase at 6, and the day at 9 o'clock. The subdial at 9 o'clock also features a 24-hour display. The Nautilus Perpetual Calendar has a list price of 134,840 USD. You can find this complicated, flat luxury watch on Chrono24 for about 233,000 USD. For comparison, the previously mentioned Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in 18-karat rose gold "only" costs 148,000 USD.
Complications at a Glance
- Ref. 5990: chronograph, pointer date, two time zones, day/night display
- Ref. 5740: perpetual calendar, moon phase, 24-hour display
Coveted 40th Anniversary Limited Edition
In 2016, Patek Philippe celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Nautilus by releasing two limited editions. You can recognize both watches by the anniversary inscription on the dial and their baguette-cut diamond indices.
The first special edition had a limited run of 700 pieces, making it especially rare. This model is a platinum version of the ref. 5711/1P – a classic Nautilus with three hands. In 2016, it had a list price of 113,400 USD. Since then, prices for mint-condition pieces have risen to over 500,000 USD. Pre-owned watches are much less expensive but still demand roughly 411,000 USD.
The second model is a Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph. Only 1,300 copies exist of this 44-mm chronograph with a white gold case. At its release, it had a list price of 96,390 USD. Today, this gold chronograph costs about 411,000 USD new and 387,000 USD used.
Prices for Vintage Watches and Older Models
Many vintage watch collectors and enthusiasts consider a Patek Philippe Nautilus from the 1970s or 80s their "grail watch." Early pieces bear the reference number 3700 and were produced from 1976 to 1990. Due to their 42-mm cases, these watches earned the nickname "Jumbo." If you're interested in one of these original Nautilus watches, plan to spend around 145,000 USD. Its price has also multiplied in recent years.
The much smaller 37.5-mm Nautilus ref. 3800001 debuted in the early 1980s and is significantly less expensive. You can get this model for as little as 41,000 USD. The same timepiece demanded only 22,000 USD in 2018. Even though its value has risen greatly over the years, it remains one of the most affordable Nautilus models on the market.
If 37.5 mm is too small for you, you should take a closer look at the Nautilus ref. 3710. This watch is 42 mm in diameter and has Roman numerals and a power reserve indicator. Patek Philippe introduced the model in 1998. As of spring 2021, its price sits around 76,000 USD.
The ref. 3711 is especially rare and, therefore, interesting to many collectors. Patek Philippe released this Nautilus in 2005 and only manufactured it for one year. Today, this white gold watch changes hands for around 181,000 USD.
Ref. 7118: A Nautilus for Women
In 2019, Patek Philippe introduced a series of women's watches under the reference number 7118. These 35.2-mm timepieces feature a narrower bezel and have a more delicate, feminine feel than the collection's men's watches. Patek Philippe offers the 7118 in stainless or rose gold and produces versions with or without diamonds. You can also choose from a golden brown, blue, silver, or gray dial. Each watch gets its power from the automatic caliber 324 S C with a central second hand and a date display.
The stainless steel version with a blue dial changes hands for roughly 43,500 USD. The addition of diamonds to the bezel raises the price tag to around 67,500 USD. The women's Nautilus in 18-karat rose gold demands about 71,500 USD without diamonds and 83,500 USD with diamonds.
Patek Philippe added a "Haute Joaillerie" edition of the 7118 to their catalog in 2021. A total of 2,553 brilliant-cut diamonds encrust this rose gold timepiece with 518 on the case, 286 on the dial, 20 on the crown, and 1,729 on the bracelet. Altogether, the diamonds weigh 12.69 carats. This exquisite watch has an official list price of 366,670 USD.
Patek Philippe Nautilus: Success Through Continuity
When Patek Philippe presented the Nautilus in 1976, the company broke with tradition. A sporty, stainless steel watch was completely new for them. The Nautilus was controversial in its first few years, but has since developed into one of the most iconic and sought-after watches of all time. Its look remains quite unchanged even today. It still has an octagonal bezel with rounded edges and a stainless steel bracelet made of satin-brushed and polished links. The porthole design was inspired by the submarine (also called the "Nautilus") in Jules Vernes' famous novel "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."
Instead of a classic guilloché, Patek Philippe chose a horizontal relief on the dial, giving the watch a sportier, maritime touch. The luminescent baton indices also contribute to the Nautilus' sporty look, as do the luminous hands for the hours and minutes.
Gérald Genta was responsible for designing this watch. The designer, who had previously worked for Omega, also designed Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak, which debuted in 1972. Genta presented Patek Philippe with his ideas for a steel sports watch in 1974. Two years later, they had finally agreed on the design for the first Nautilus with reference number 3700. Before 1976, Patek had only offered classic watches in precious metals. In addition to the Royal Oak and the Nautilus, Genta also designed the IWC Ingenieur ref. 1832 from the late 1970s.
Case Technology and Calibers
Introduced in the mid-1970s, the case's 42-mm diameter caused quite a stir and led to the watch's nickname, "Jumbo." At the time, case sizes around 36 mm were the norm. The Nautilus's case construction was also novel, as it was comprised of two pieces: the bezel and the monocoque body. Usually, manufacturers use a three-piece case construction consisting of the case back, middle section, and bezel. The Nautilus's monocoque only had one hole for the winding stem and came with a snap-on bezel. There was also a seal between the monocoque and the bezel. Together, the monocoque, bezel, and seal create water resistance to 120 m (12 bar, 394 ft).
Patek Philippe used the caliber 28-255 C based on a movement from Jaeger-LeCoultre. At the time, the movement was considered one of the thinnest automatic calibers at 3.15 mm. It also had a date display at 3 o'clock.
Since the early 1980s, there have been many different versions of the Patek Philippe Nautilus. The model with the reference number 3800, a mid-sized, 37.5-mm wristwatch, is available in solid gold, platinum, or a two-tone mix of steel and gold. When Patek temporarily stopped producing the larger Nautilus in the early 1990s, the 3800 became their only sports watch.
In the mid-1990s, Patek Philippe introduced the gold ref. 5060. This was the first Nautilus to come on a leather strap. Its lugs were also new and lent the watch an elegant touch. This watch was the inspiration behind Patek's second sports watch, the Aquanaut.
In 1998, Patek Philippe reissued the large Nautilus. The reference number 3710/1A has a power reserve indicator below 12 o'clock and Roman numeral hour markers. In the mid-2000s, this model was also available in 18-karat white gold with a sapphire crystal back.
At the same time, Patek launched the most intricate version of the Nautilus to date. It features a pointer date, power reserve indicator, and moon phase display. The caliber 240 PS IRM C LU powers the watch. Today, these complicated watches are among the most sought-after collector's items. You can find them under the reference number 3712/1A.
A New Design in 2006
In 2006, the Nautilus celebrated its 30th birthday. The company took the opportunity to quietly refine parts of the timepiece. The sides became slightly domed, and the width of the reference number 5711/1A increased slightly to 43 mm (from side to side). Measured diagonally from 10 to 4 o'clock, this watch is 40 mm across. The new top model was reference number 5980 with a flyback chronograph.
The Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph ref. 5990 debuted in 2014. It has a chronograph function, pointer date, and the ability to display two time zones simultaneously.
Patek Philippe developed an entirely new case for the caliber CH 28-520 C FUS. The hinge on the case's right side serves as a crown protector. Patek managed to replace the hinge on the left side with two push-pieces for the time zones without changing the original design. The chronograph also required two push-pieces, which sit between 1 and 2 o'clock and 4 and 5 o'clock.
The current stainless steel edition has the reference number 5711. This three-hand watch, like the Jumbo, has a date display at 3 o'clock. You have the choice between a black and blue, white, or olive green dial. The watch's power comes from the automatic caliber 26-330 S C. This movement is only 3.3 mm thick and comprised of 212 individual components.