Some of you may know that I have a weak spot for watches designed by Gérald Genta in the 1970s, a list that includes the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet and the Ingenieur by IWC (it is a common misconception by many that the ‘222’ and the Overseas by Vacheron Constantin were also designed by Genta).
Since I consider myself a bit of a purist, I prefer versions of these watches as they were initially made, or at least how they were meant to be: in stainless steel. The concept behind them was that they would be luxurious yet sporty. The “sporty” part has been, perhaps, a bit exaggerated by these brands in the past, but let’s admit that the models named above were certainly more sporty than most of those brands’ classic lineup.
Anyway, Patek Philippe introduced a new watch to its existing Nautilus collection (another of Genta’s iconic designs), in gold. When I first saw this piece, I shrugged my shoulders and thought to myself that the stainless-steel Nautilus Reference 5711/1A or the vintage 3700/1A are the models that I would prefer to own someday. Period. But after my appointment with Patek Philippe at Basel, during which I got to see and try on the new Nautilus in gold, I wasn’t so sure about that anymore.
The new Nautilus in gold is an amazing-looking watch; even with a pale-skinned wrist like mine, I think I could get away with wearing it. Whereas the stainless steel version — which I’ve tried on often — feels comfortably light (there is still enough weight to ensure you the watch is still there), the gold version has a much larger presence. The weight of the gold doesn’t let you forget what’s on your wrist. Besides the weight aspect, the presence is also there because of the warm color of the gold. Due to the very recognizable finishing on the case and bracelet, this watch will never look tacky or flashy.
A gold Patek Philippe Nautilus isn’t something new. Actually, the first Nautilus reference (3700/1A) was also produced in gold back in the late 1970s. Later Nautilus models also became available in gold (like the Reference 5980 chronograph), but never the reference 5711/1A. Patek Philippe decided to use rose gold for the case and bracelet and, instead of the blue/greenish dial in the stainless steel version, picked a warm chocolate brown color for the dial. It gives the watch a very classy look and makes you forget that a Nautilus should be a stainless steel watch only.
Actually, it made me wonder whether a gold Nautilus 5711/1A is something a purist can get away with. Besides the fact that there actually was an original 1970s 3700/1A in gold, you can debate whether the current 5711/1A isn’t already too far away from the original 3700/1A series for a purist (here is a comparison between the 3700/1A and 5711/1A). The see-through caseback, the seconds hand, and the fact that the case isn’t a monocoque anymore already makes the 5711/1A a decidedly modern interpretation of the original 3700/1A.
The best solution, perhaps, would be to own an original Patek Philippe 3700/1A in stainless steel and get the Nautilus 5711/1A in rose gold as a modern alternative. See how I am looking for excuses to own both? Truth to be told, I am warming up to gold watches in general, and think the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A is an excellent example of how a gold “sports” watch can be tasteful. A job well done by Patek Philippe. The Genta adept in me probably will always crave that mint-condition 3700/1A in stainless steel, but a rose-gold 5711/1A on my wrist would make that hunt a bit more bearable.