Patek Philippe celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Nautilus with the release of two new Nautilus watches: the Nautilus 5711/1P and the Nautilus 5976/1G 40th Anniversary Editions. Both received mixed reactions from collectors, ranging from “ugly anniversary blurb on the dial”, to “too huge case for a Patek”. We investigated some of these reactions in our article (click here). We could only conclude then by saying that it was indeed horses for courses. We needed to see the watches for ourselves and spend some time examining, photographing and playing to have an informed impression. Here is our analysis and report of that session.
The Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1P 40th Anniversary Edition
The Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1P is an interesting watch with a curious history. It existed off catalog in the Patek repertoire for a while. And was a very much sought after member of the 5711 family. We reviewed the 5711/1R earlier. Click here for that review. In that review, we considered the various 5711 models, and concluded that the 5711/1A in stainless steel (retails for S$ 32,700) is very highly sought after and should be on the shortlist of any serious collector. But the 5711/1P remains the most desirable, as it was the rarest.
Hands-on impressions: debunking the speculative criticisms
The ugly two line inscription: debunked!
When we were handed the watch, and started our first look, we thought we were handed the off-catalog version. The two-line anniversary citation “40” and “1976–2016” is quite subtle, and was only apparent when the light hit the dial at certain angles. And even then it recedes into the background and as the citation is the same colour as the rest of the dial, it blends in quite harmoniously with the against a backdrop of the horizontal Nautilus embossing. The manufacture described it as a ‘very discrete’ feature. Initial reactions from many to the press photographs had labelled the inscription to be excessive. But seeing the watch in real life, on the wrist, on the hand, and even under the loupe we tend to agree with Patek’s description more than the speculation of naysayers who have only seen the photographs.
The loud diamond markers: debunked!
The diamond markers, 12 baguette-cut diamonds totaling 0.34 ct are also very discrete. At first glance, they looked like polished gold appliqué lozenge shaped makers. But close examination reveals the diamonds on their white gold mounts. As is common with platinum Pateks, there is an additional small Top Wesselton diamond embedded on the case between the bottom lugs to indicate its nobility.
Monstrous case dimensions: debunked!
Patek specifies the case to great detail in their technical data sheet. The case diameter (10 to 4 o’clock): 40.00 mm, the width (9 to 3 o’clock incl. crown): 44.05 mm, the length (lug to lug): 44.00 mm and the case height: 8.3 mm. We thought it a bit unusual for Patek to release the full dimensional specifications. Typically they either say the case diameter (measured from 10 to 4 o’clock, like the 5711/1A or 5711/1R which is also 40.0mm, or the width from 9 to 3 o’clock as in the first generation Nautilus, the 3700/1A which is 42 mm.
The number which most critics use to say watch is humongous is the 44.05 mm dimension quoted by Patek. The original Nautilus of 1976 was also labelled as humongous, and known as the Jumbo for its case proportions (42 mm case diameter as measured from 9 to 3 o’clock). Perhaps justifiably so by the norms of the day. The new 5711/1P is only marginally 2.05mm larger, and actually wears like a 40mm case as the case actually is 40.0mm diameter, not counting the side “ears”. And actually no larger than the regular 5711.
Poor clasp design: Affirmed!
The clasp on the 5711/1P is the same as with the other versions of the 5711 family. And for a watch of this caliber, we would have expected a more refined clasp system which is easy to open and close. But Patek has not managed to do this one well. The clasp is difficult to close and to open.
The finish is magnificent. As with the detailing like the polished middle link contrasting beautifully against the brushed outer links. Totally beautiful and beyond reproach. But the operations of the locking tab which is excessively firm, and difficult to open. And when the tab is opened, the folding buckle itself needed some force to open. Perhaps Patek’s intent is that it does not undo on its own, but this level of lack of refinement is a concern. Thumbs down.
Pedestrian movement for a watch with lofty ambitions: Affirmed!
The Nautilus 5711/1P is equipped with the bog standard 324 SC. True, this is a nicely designed in-house manufactured movement. True it is nicely finished with all the haute horlogerie boxes ticked. But this is the exact same movement that beats inside the case of its regular cousins in the 5711 family. We might have preferred a small modification to indicate its lofty perch, like perhaps a platinum ring on the outer edge of the rotor. Or some engraving on the movement. But nothing. Pure standard movement. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not quite enough for a top drawer watch.
Very high price: Debunked! Mostly.
As mentioned, the pre-Anniversary 5711/1P (non 40th Anniversary) is not even listed in the Patek Philippe catalog. It is also the heaviest and certainly the most expensive within the range, and also perhaps the most collectible. One piece was recently auctioned by Phillips in Hong Kong for HK$ 1,360,000 (converting to approx S$ 235,100) against an estimated retail of S$ 118,000. The new 5711/1P 40th Anniversary Edition retails for S$ 149,300 (incl GST) is limited to 700 pieces and available now. The price strikes us as fair. Patek has chosen a mid-point between the regular 5711/1P’s retail and the achieved auction price. Plus the new Anniversary Edition has on its side of the ledger the addition of diamond indices (true that these are a marginal cost increment), and the exclusivity of the now stated 700 piece limited edition. Admittedly, although a time only watch at this price can hardly be described as inexpensive, we think all 700 will be quickly snapped up.
As another case to consider is perhaps the Nautilus’ closest competitor: The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. A very platinum AP Royal Oak Jumbo Ref 14802PT which was offered for sale in 2011 on Timezone.com. We understand this was transacted at close to the asking price of US$ 49,000 which many consider a bargain. The original intent of Audemars Piguet was to make 125 pieces to celebrate their 125th Anniversary. The watch was to be in solid platinum with a platinum bracelet weighing about 220g, and had an un-engraved rotor on the C.2120 movement. However, only 8 were ever made. And we speculate that a piece being offered in today’s market will fetch a price close to the US$ 100k (about S$ 145k), similar to the retail of the new Nautilus 5711/1P.
The new Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1P is a very lovable watch. We particularly love the discrete and understated looks. One would need a double take to correctly identify it against its stainless steel sister, the 5711/1A. Making it the ultimate in stealth. Perhaps this is reverse snobbery, which we are happy to be guilty as charged. We love the hefty feel of the platinum case and bracelet. And ultimately also the arguably fair asking price. Sure its expensive. But its a Patek Philippe, and as history has shown, it is likely to maintain a good value in the secondary marker in the years to come.
Do we like the watch? No. We loved it! Two thumbs up, and kudos to Patek Philippe for this creation.