If you’re considering purchasing a pre-owned Nautilus watch, there are some things to consider first. These include how much you should expect to pay for a Nautilus watch and why the model is such a popular and highly sought-after collectable. This article outlines some of the key things you should know about some important Nautilus watch variations, along with some information on why the Patek Philippe Nautilus makes such a great investment.
The Patek Philippe Nautilus watch is vastly recognised across the globe for its iconic sports watch design and is amongst some of the most expensive luxury watches of all time. The watch was developed during a Basel Trade fair and released in the year 1976. Designed by Gerald Genta – the genius behind the iconic Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet, the designer recalled how the famous watch came to be;
"I was at the restaurant of a hotel and some people from Patek were sitting in one corner of the dining hall, while I was sitting alone in the other corner. I told the head-waiter: “Bring me a piece of paper and a pencil, I want to design something” and I designed the Nautilus while observing the people from Patek eating! It was a sketch that I completed in 5 minutes".
The design of the highly sought-after Nautilus watch is easily identifiable and has barely changed over the decades. It features an octagonal-shaped bezel reminiscent of the portholes that could be seen on transatlantic liners, along with four lateral screws that maintained the watch’s impressive water-resistant capability. What made the design of the Nautilus so special was the subtle yet clever curvature of its eight sides, which traced the perfect arc of a circle. Inspired by the submarine featured in Jules Verne's novel "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea", it promised a 120-meter water resistance and featured wide lugs and lateral ears that provided a uniform compression over a rubber gasket, ensuring a dry environment inside the case.
Despite following the success of the Royal Oak watch by Audemars Piguet, no one could have imagined the sheer success of the Nautilus. Waiting lists for brand new Patek Phillipe Nautilus watches have always been long and prices have skyrocketed over recent years, especially after the brand revealed that it would be ceasing production of two of its most iconic designs to date – the three-handed blue and white models from the 5711 series.
Most Nautilus watches are hard to find on the pre-owned market, particularly the desirable 5711 models. It comes as no surprise that Patek Philippe has acquired an incredible reputation after the release of the Nautilus back in the 1970s since these models are well deserved for their popularity given the attention to detail and level of workmanship devoted to each one. The legendary watch has become part of the brand’s inspiring and rich heritage. Who knows where Patek Phillipe would be today if it hadn’t have decided to follow in the footsteps of the successful Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch? As with everything, however, there are pros and cons to investing in a Nautilus watch.
Firstly, the Nautilus comes from a very well-respected brand that has gained a great deal of recognition over the years, namely for producing globally sought-after models like the ref. 5711. If your collection reflects luxury watches made by manufacturers that are synonymous with the very best in quality materials and technology, then the Patek Philippe Nautilus will certainly fit into place amongst your collection. Secondly, the Nautilus is a solid investment. Not only is the demand at its highest right now, but its appreciating price tag reflects this. Whether you are planning to hold onto your Nautilus watch forever or not, it is certain to hold its value.
The Patek Philippe is very expensive. Whether you are buying from new or from the pre-owned market, you need to think seriously about parting with your money before you invest. Is this a watch you have longed to own for some time? Many watch enthusiasts save for years before investing in a Nautilus but they are difficult to acquire. If a Nautilus watch arrives on the pre-owned market, it’s likely it won’t stay there for long. Likewise, when buying from new, Patek Philippe Nautilus watches often have a long waiting list since the manufacturer produces a restricted quantity of these timepieces – yet another reason why each one is so desirable.
If you are considering buying a pre-owned Nautilus watch from the secondary market there are some things you should know first. To start with, there are some models that you are unlikely to see there. These include the two stainless steel icons ref. 5711/1A-010 and the ref. 5712/1A-001. The first of the two (the stainless steel model with a blue dial) has skyrocketed in price in recent years. That said, Patek Philippe has never wanted any one model alone to dominate its catalogue and so, as a result, it revealed it was ceasing its production in 2021. Patek Philippe has always restricted production quantities of its Nautilus watches – one reason why every model is so highly regarded and loved.
Before its discontinuation, the blue 5711 model sold for a high price to begin with. Its price tag was around $76,000. After the 2021 news, its price escalated to $110,000. The white dial version considered its sister model, sold for around $104,00 post-2021. Very few brand-new condition models are available now from retailers and authorised stockists. The rose gold version of the Nautilus, however, is still in production and prices start at around $54,000 for this.
Vintage Nautilus watches from the 1970s and 1980s are also expensive. The earliest Nautilus ref. 3700 was produced during the years 1976 through to 1990 and were later nicknamed “Jumbo” due to their broad 42mm case sizes. Nautilus “Jumbo” watches have multiplied in price over recent years. You can expect to put aside around $145,000 for a pre-owned 3700 model. The 1980s successor was the Nautilus ref. 3800001, which measured a smaller 37.5mm diameter and is considered more affordable, costing around $41,000.
Following these models is the 1990s generation – the Nautilus ref. 3710, which grew back to a 42mm size. This model is characterised by its traditional Roman numeral hour markers and its power reserve indicator. Since 2021, the ref. 3710 can be purchased for around $76,000. This model is much rarer than other designs, reflecting its higher price tag and piquing the interests of avid Nautilus fans. The white gold variation for this watch is even pricier, costing around $181,000 on the secondary watch market.
If you’re wondering which Nautilus watch is best suited to your needs, here are a few different models from the series, with key features and movements outlined.
The Nautilus Annual Calendar ref. 5726 was released in 2006 and was only made in stainless steel. Powered by the Caliber 324 S QA LU 24H, it features windows for the day, date, and month feature, as well as a moonphase display and a 24-hour indication. The 40.5mm model is water-resistant to 120 meters and fitted on an integrated steel bracelet, automatically adjusting the calendar displays and the time for the wearer.
Case/Dial: 33.3mm Stainless-steel, blue
Movement: 324 S QA LU 24H/303, Self-winding
Functions: Hours, minutes, annual calendar and moon-phase, 45h power reserve
Strap: Stailess steel
The complex and technically sophisticated Nautilus ref. 5740 is a perpetual calendar that features a trio of sub-dials that indicate the day, date, month, leap year, moonphase, and 24-hour indications. The 60-meter water-resistant model is a 40mm-sized 18ct white gold companion fitted on a matching gold bracelet, The watch is powered by the ultra-thin Caliber 240 Q and presents the time on a stunning sunray blue dial.
Case/Dial: 27mm Stainless steel, blue
Movement: 240 Q, Self-winding
Functions: day, date, month, leap year, moonphase, 48h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel
If you do come across a pre-owned Nautilus ref. 5711/1A watch on the market, be sure to keep hold of it. It’s one of the hottest watches on the market right now and is considered the most modern interpretation of the much-loved original 5711 icon. That said, you can expect to pay double the prices now that production has ceased. The 40mm 120-meter water-resistant sports watch is available in steel (blue or white dial) or rose gold (chocolate brown dial) and offers a simple three-handed dial with a date aperture at 3 o’clock. A sapphire-backed case permits a view of the in-house Caliber 26-330 S C automatic mechanical movement whilst at work. The engine provides a 35-45-hour power reserve.
Case/Dial: 40mm Stainless steel, Green
Movement: 26-330 S C, Self-winding
Functions: Date, Calendar, 45h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel
The Nautilus ref. 5712 is yet another investible timepiece that was released in 2006 and equipped with a beautiful moon phase indicator alongside a small running seconds counter, a date display and a power reserve indicator. The 40mm model is available in three options; 18ct white gold, 18ct rose gold and stainless steel. The former two come fitted on traditional leather straps, whilst the latter is fitted with a matching steel bracelet. Powered by the Caliber 240 PS IRM C LU, this self-winding engine is put on show through a sapphire exhibition glass secured to the back of the model’s 60-meter water-resistant case.
The first chronograph version of the Nautilus was released by Patek Philippe in 2006 and was the first to try out the brand’s proprietary automatic movement – the Caliber CH 28-520 C. Its duo chronograph counter at 6 o’clock cleverly combined the 30-minute and 12-hour totaliser, accompanied by running seconds, donating more space to the dial. The watch is available in rose gold with a matching rose gold bracelet, rose gold with a leather strap, or a two-tone version crafted from stainless steel and rose gold. The case measures a 40mm diameter and promises a 120-meter water resistance.
Case/Dial: 40.5mm Rose gold., black
Movement: CH 28-520 C/522, Self-winding
Functions: Date, Flyback chronograph, 55h power reserve
Strap: Rose gold.
Lastly, the Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph ref. 5900 is perfect for avid travellers and features a chronograph function as well as a dual time function that tracks home and local time. Day and night windows are positioned at 3 and 9 o’clock also. A local date window is positioned at 12 o’clock, as well as elapsed chronograph minutes at 6 o’clock. The Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph ref. 5990 is only available in steel.
Case/Dial: 40.5mm Rose Gold, Blue
Movement: CH 28-520 C FUS, Self-winding
Functions: Date, Calendar, Chronograph, 55h power reserve
Strap: Rose Gold