Even though the Patek Philippe Nautilus was not the first timepiece created by Gerald Genta, not the first automatic chnornograph, not even the most complicated or advanced chronograph, it is one of the most popular and iconic watches within the industry.
The famous Patek Philippe Nautilus was redesigned and re-introduced in 2006, but the original version dates back to 1976. The reason why Patek Philippe decided to reinvent the entire Nautilus line in 2006 is that this was the year when this famous model turned 30 years. Of course, this celebration couldn’t go unnoticed.
The return of the Nautilus was also marked by adding the Patek Philippe’s newly constructed, in house automatic chronograph mechanism. Basically, this very popular sports chronograph, a true legend among contemporary timepieces has been upgraded both in terms of aesthetics and functionality as to be unrivaled by any other similar luxury watches on the market.
Getting back to the Nautilus’ history, Patek Philippe launched the first version in 1976. The watch was designed by the notorious Gerald Genta. At that time, this design was totally different than any other watch in the Patek Philippe collection. Rumors have it that Genta drew the outside design of the Nautilus on a napkin while he was dining in a restaurant. Even though all the other Patek Philippe watches were made of gold, the Nautilus was boldly constructed out of stainless steel and this decision turned out to be an unexpected success. In fact, the Nautilus has reinvented the entire luxury watches industry. It was the first timepiece to connect the luxury watch niche with the sports watch one.
When it was introduced, the Nautilus got the nickname “Jumbo” due to its 42 mm case diameter. It was a pretty huge and thin case for those times. At the inside, the watch was powered by the extremely thin JLC caliber 920. Records show that the initial Nautilus was one of the thinnest sports watches ever made. Until 1998, the Nautilus had only the date window complication, but starting with that year the brand decided to add a winding indicator. Soon after, the famous triple complications followed- the power reserve, analog date and moonphase. These new functions were very well received by enthusiast and they were the main design and functional elements that reinvented the Nautilus line. Then, in 2006 the Nautilus chronograph was introduced.
The design of the Patek Philippe Nautilus exudes finesse and quality. The watch has a gorgeous and timeless appearance in every respect. The overall look of the Nautilus kept its classic lines by having the same simple and sleek dial even if the chronograph function was added. The addition of two round pushers was also needed, but these were uniquely designed as to be as flat and elegant as possible. You can barely notice the pushers when you check out the time. In other words, no matter how many aesthetic improvements were made to the classic Nautilus, the brand was keen on preserving the original design.
When Patek Phillipe added the chronograph, it did not want to use the triple sub-dial layout. It preferred a simpler alternative by using just one sub-dial that was located above the 6 o’clock hour marker. This counter also serves as a co-axial chrono that helps count both minutes and hours. The intention of this dial layout was to keep the symmetrical and clean look of the initial Nautilus.
The caseback of the Patek Philippe Nautilus is transparent and it offers you the chance to see the beautiful inside mechanism. The see-through glass is actually sapphire which is incredibly resistant to scratches and daily use. This is one of the most fascinating parts of the watch.
The dial reveals a beautiful gradation from black at the periphery to dark blue in the middle. This unique look is completed by a horizontal embossed pattern that impresses with a three dimensional effect instead of the patisserie pattern that we usually see on most famous expensive sports watches. The Nautilus features nine instead of twelve hour markers that are made from white gold and are coated with luminor. This layout allows the large co-axial chronograph sub-dial to be located above the 6 o’clock hour marker. At the 3 o’clock position there is also a date window. The overall dial is exquisite and refined. From the gradated color scheme to the sleek hour markers, the face of the timepiece is an outstanding example of timeless perfection.