The Legendary Nautilus
Investing in collection watches
The Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700
The Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700 follows the creation of the iconic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402. One reason makes such allegation a truth, and it is the man who designed the watch. The same designer made both these iconic watches: Gerald Genta. Personally, I think he exceeded his ability to create an horological masterpiece with the Nautilus and it took less than for the Royal Oak 5402 to become one of the most sought-after top investment watch ever.
It could have been considered a simple attempt to copy Audemars Piguet but lot of watch enthusiasts, collectors and experts consider that Patek Philippe overcame Audemars Piguet with its Nautilus. The intention of Patek at that time was to position its watch the same way Audemars Piguet did 4 years before… A very expensive steel sport watch, far above Rolex Daytona or Rolex Submariner or any Rolex sport luxury watch. “One Of The Costliest Watch in The World is Made Of Steel” was the motto of the advertisement campaign upon release of the watch.
The competition was hard. Gerald Genta, the designer, created another masterpiece and put both the brands on the pinnacle of the “non-gold” expensive watches. Both watches were around 3,500 Swiss Franc. To give you a comparison, a Rolex Submariner, which is now considered vintage, was less than 400 Swiss Francs at that time.
A simple analogy in 2020 would be a US$7,500 Submariner vs. a US$60,000. The analogy is not that overstated for if you analyze the market, luxury watch market to be more precise, you will see that since January 2021, the Nautilus 5711 price (the new reference which replaced the vintage 3700) is US$36,000 but is not available at all at Patek’s. If you want one, you have to turn to the second hand market, which price will be around US$100,000. It looks like history repeats itself or that the positioning of the watch has been so deeply injected in its AND that everybody agree to make it last forever.
But let’s come back to our Nautilus 3700 as a real investment for the “big league” collectors. A good condition Patek Philippe Nautilus price with its original papers is around US$160,000. The evolution of this watch is just stunning compared to any other one, except the Rolex Paul Newman Daytona. 10 years ago, the Nautilus 3700 could be found for a price less than US$25,000… Which investor would not aim for such a financial hit, considering they were far more available at that time than now.
First sketch of the Patek Philippe Nautilus by Gerald Genta
Is the 3700 Nautilus the only one?
No… there are other very collectable Nautilus watches such as the 3800 (smaller diameter; 28mm vs. 40mm for the 3700) or the 3712, which is the same watch than the 3700 except it features more complications than the simple “hour-minutes and date”, such as “date, moonphase and power reserve”. Moreover, Patek Philippe created another reference, the Aquanaut, which was a more sporty watch but based on an almost same design. This latter is definitely also a collector worth an investment.
Today, Patek Philippe Nautilus is considered one of the most iconic watch ever and this is not a trendy situation. Once a timekeeper entered the Pantheon of the most sought-after watches, and if it became very rare such as this reference, there is not any chance to loose such position, except if the watch is really worn. And even in that case, today’s technology enables watchmaker to give the watch a “rebirth”, which will be a subject of a new article as it raises the question “Is a restored watch considered a real collection watch thus worth an investment ?”
Steel, Gold or steel/Gold?
If you consider the value of the vintage “Nautilus” on the luxury watch market, the question does not even arise. A vintage Nautilus 3700 is a Nautilus 3700 and the prices for the gold (3700J) and steel/gold (3700AJ) raised the same manner than the 3700A.
Before purchasing such watch and make the best deal, you should of course make it authenticated and correctly checked by an expert. There are different dials and hands that could make the difference between one and the other and analyzing the condition of the watch is mandatory.
The best purchase or the best sale is always determined by doing the best choice, but before doing the best choice, one must know everything about trhe watch and not only the watch butthe dates of production, the different models, the dial, the hands, the bracelet and so on. Better be advised correctly when you want to invest in this kind of collector watch.