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Review: A Familiar Face – The Patek Philippe Nautilus Annual Calendar Ref. 5726/1A

by Frank Chuo on June 17, 2019

Patek Philippe Nautilus Annual Calendar Ref. 5726/1A

Patek Philippe is a high-end watch manufacturer synonymous with excellence. Two things it is famous for, among a myriad of other things, is the Nautilus sports watch and the annual calendar wristwatch. In 2016, Patek Philippe put two and two together and introduced the Nautilus Annual Calendar in Baselworld. This year, the watch receives a new dial, which sounds trivial, but is actually a significant move. We bring you the details and our thoughts on the new Nautilus Annual Calendar Ref. 5726/1A with gradient blue dial.

The Case, Dial, and Hands

The case of the latest Nautilus Annual Calendar remains unchanged relative to its predecessor. The stainless steel case is still a comfortable 40.5 mm x 11.3 mm in dimensions and features the porthole-shaped bezel that has made the Nautilus so iconic. A screw-down crown allows for a respectable 120 m water resistance rating, sufficient for a swim or shallow diving. The finissage of the case, bezel and bracelet – alternating between polished and satin finishes – is well-known in the industry for its immaculateness; it is second to none.

Originally designed by Gerald Genta, the Nautilus with its rounded octagonal bezel has since become one of the most recognisable sports watches in fine watchmaking.

Typically, a watch at Baselworld with a mere dial colour change is seen as the lowest form of novelty – the antithesis of the word, in fact. With the Nautilus Annual Calendar, it’s a different story, for it has been endowed the gradient blue dial seen on the wildly coveted Nautilus Ref. 5711 and the original Nautilus from 1976. The Nautilus Annual Calendar had always been one of the less popular offerings from Patek Philippe’s successful sports watch line. It has been widely speculated that the incorporation of the beloved blue dial would increase the popularity of the reference. And yes, as shallow as it sounds, it probably will boost sales simply because of the new dial’s association with the Ref. 5711 and the seminal Ref. 3700.

Side-by-side: The Ref. 5711 and the new Ref. 5726.

Appearance wise, the gradient blue dial which goes from electric blue in the center to almost black in the periphery looks fantastic on the Nautilus Annual Calendar. No other changes to the dial have been made, including the lume-coated hands and markers, and the layout of the annual calendar displays.

The Movement

Driving the new Nautilus Annual Calendar Ref. 5726/1A is the same 347-part, 37-jewel Calibre 324 S QA LU 24H/303. The self-winding movement has a power reserve of 35-45 hours and operates at a modern 4 Hz beat rate. Incorporated within it are some of Patek Philippe’s most significant innovations, such as the Gyromax balance and the Spiromax hairspring. In addition to an annual calendar function, the movement also features moon phase and 24-hour indication functionality.

The Calibre 324 S QA LU 24H/303 as seen through the case back.

The Calibre 324 S QA LU 24H/303 is lavishly finished and decorated in accordance to the brand’s own standard of excellence: the Patek Philippe Seal. Visible through the sapphire crystal case back are the signs of a well-finished movement: even Geneva waves on the bridges, chamfered and polished edges, exterior angling on the edges, polished screw heads, and tight perlage on the base plate, among other things. The 21K gold central rotor has also been decorated with circular waves and engraved with the Calatrava cross, the brand’s emblem.

The Competitive Landscape

The new Nautilus Annual Calendar isn’t anything new, really. But the introduction of the gradient blue dial to this reference can only be good for Patek Philippe. It is something connoisseurs of the brand want, and our guess is that this is going to be a wait-list piece. The watch replaces its grey-dialed predecessor (discontinued) and is priced at CHF40,500.

The Nautilus Annual Calendar leans on the dressier side of sports watches, not just in design, but also in size. As such, it should slide under most sleeves with ease.

Concerning competition, there are actually relatively few annual calendar sports watches around even today. That said, there is one that certainly has a significant share of the market: the Rolex Sky-Dweller in stainless steel with white gold bezel. Much like the Nautilus Annual Calendar, the watch is crafted (mainly) in stainless steel, has a blue dial, features a date window and annual calendar functionality. But that’s where the similarities end. We recommend reading about the unique features of the Rolex Sky-Dweller here. Finishing on the the Sky-Dweller (and all Rolexes) is flawless but appears sterile; after all, it is a machine-finished watch. In this regard, it is obviously no match at all for the artisanally crafted Nautilus. The watch retails for SGD19,340 – significantly more affordable than the Nautilus – but getting one at retail price is a whole other matter. Prior to 2018, the Sky-Dweller only existed in coloured gold, and its popularity was comparatively lukewarm. Purchasing the Sky-Dweller in stainless steel with white gold bezel, however, is an ordeal involving snickering boutique salesmen, long wait-lists, and giving up before over-paying at a grey dealer anyway.

Previously only available in more garish colour palettes and metals, the Sky-Dweller “Rolesor” (Rolex speak for half gold, half steel) is currently one of the brand’s most sought after pieces.

For something off the beaten path, look no further than the IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. While it isn’t an annual calendar timepiece, it still is worth considering as a sports watch with a complicated calendar function. As implied in its name, the watch features a perpetual calendar, which is yet another step up in complexity compared to the annual calendar. Unlike the annual calendar, the perpetual calendar doesn’t need correcting until the year 2100. Don’t let the leather strap and gold casing fool you, the Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month is a full-fledged sports watch with 120 m water resistance. Did we also mention that it also is a flyback chronograph? This 100-piece limited edition Gerald Genta-designed creation may not be as well-finished as the Nautilus (which was also designed by the same man), but it is packed to the brim with functionality. The best part is, the watch retails at CHF49,500. With a bit of haggling, the watch can easily be had for the same price as the Nautilus Annual Calendar. In the end it’s up to discerning collectors what they want: an annual calendar watch with superior craftsmanship, or a perpetual calendar chronograph you can take diving for the same price.

If chunky sports watches is what you’re after, the 45 mm x 17.5 mm case size of the IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month should more than satisfy your needs.

Final Thoughts

The “novelty” of the new Nautilus Annual Calendar is only in its dial colour, and yet sometimes, that is all it takes to reinvigorate a reference. Introducing the brand’s classic gradient blue dial to the watch is almost certainly a positive step that should lead to a sales boost and, inevitably, premium pricing in the grey market. But if we forget about all things marketing for a second, the Nautilus Annual Calendar finally looks ‘right’; it never quite did with the grey dial, and especially not with the white dial. The new gradient blue dial has certainly brought the best out of the reference.

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