It all started as a rumour, back in January 2021. We heard that Patek Philippe was about to discontinue its most emblematic sports watch, the time-and-date Nautilus 5711 (which is, coincidentally, one of the most sought-after watches on the pre-owned market). And the rumour was indeed true, as Thierry Stern announced stopping the production of the model introduced in 2006, the blue dial 5711/1A-001. But afterwards, two things happened. First, the brand released a one-year-only farewell edition, the Olive Green Nautilus 5711. And, of course, there has been the Tiffany Blue 5711, made in 170 pieces only. And now, we know that the Nautilus 5711 is definitely gone and discontinued. This can’t be the end of the story for the time-and-date Patek Philippe Nautilus. Will there be a watch to keep the legend alive…? We believe so, and here’s what we’d like to see in the new Patek Philippe Nautilus – let’s call it 6711 for now.
The way Patek Philippe and its President Thierry Stern have been communicating recently has been mostly through interviews given to Neuen Zürcher Zeitung or the New York Times. First of all, in February 2021, Mr Stern announced stopping the production of the classic blue dial Nautilus 5711/1A-001, the watch introduced in 2006 as the 30th-anniversary model and that walks in the footstep of the first-ever Nautilus, the reference 3700. In the interview, Stern gave multiple reasons for the discontinuation of the Blue 5711, including the fact that he didn’t “want a single model to suddenly make up 50% or more of our collection and dominate Patek’s image.” Then adding that “It’s not enough to make the most beautiful watches in the world. I also have to make sure that they retain their value, and rarity is one of the keys to that. For the customers who invest in Patek, that’s important.”
In this same interview, Mr Stern also indicated that the brand was planning on releasing “a little surprise. There will therefore be a farewell series of the 5711, which will be a little different.” And that surprise took the shape of the Olive Green dial Nautilus 5711/1A-014, a watch that has been produced for less than a year, from April 2021 to early 2022.
A watch produced in low quantities, facing extremely high demand, this situation only increased the popularity of the Nautilus (all colours) and made the prices on the second-hand market skyrocketing. Stern was aware of this situation, explaining before releasing it that “this will be another nightmare in terms of demand.” But the worse wasn’t unveiled yet. And this took the shape of the Tiffany Blue 5711, a watch made in collaboration with the NY-based retailer and jeweller to celebrate its 170th anniversary, and released in a limited run of 170 pieces only. We expected the watch to become an auction breaker, but certainly not to the point of reaching multi-million dollars. And once again, Thierry Stern was fully aware of the issues linked to such a launch, saying to the NYT that “I’m not sure it’s a gift for them. It may be a big problem. They may not realize how difficult it’s going to be to choose the clients.”
The situation regarding Patek’s icon has been clarified recently. Indeed, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 is no more. Simply, the watch doesn’t exist anymore at all, as all possible references have been removed from the brand’s website. No more blue version, no more green model or rose gold 5711R and the white dial version is long-gone anyway.
A watch that really needs to be replaced…
Some said that the Tiffany Blue and Olive Green versions of the Nautilus were the last of their kind… And by that, they meant not the last of the 5711 (which is known to be a reality now) but the last of the time-and-date Patek Philippe Nautilus. Period! Well, let’s clarify the situation a little. In the same interview Mr Stern gave to the New York Times when he announced the end of the Blue 5711 and the release of the Green model, the President of Patek Philippe also said “we have a plan. The replacement to the Ref. 5711 will be quite major. It will be better than the Ref. 5711. But I will not say today in what metal or if it will be in steel. It will be something else, very close, and logical.”
Not only did the brand’s President announce that there will be a replacement, but we inevitably put the question on the table here at MONOCHROME. And it is clear for us that Patek simply can’t kill the classic time-and-date Nautilus. This watch, which has been launched in 1976, represents an important part of the brand’s modern history. It is the watch that allowed Patek Philippe to enter new markets, to attract a different audience. It was the brand’s entry to modernity, to casual sports watches. It has since become a true icon of watchmaking. If not for commercial reasons, there has to be a replacement to the Nautilus 5711 for heritage reasons. This watch is, as said by Stern, a difficult product. “Stopping the Nautilus was an important decision,” he said, adding also that “there has been so much noise around this Nautilus. (…) We cannot put a single watch on top of our pyramid.” But he also is aware that he “will never be able to supply enough watches for all the people on the lists.”
With this in mind, stopping the production of the Nautilus 5711 has certainly been a complex decision, but also one that opens the door to something else. Something different, yet something identical – at least to us, the new Nautilus, which could well be unveiled at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022, will retain most of the elements that made the success of the Nautilus since 1976. But the BIG question remains the material.
What we’d like to see in the (possible) Nautilus 6711
What we’re about to discuss will be a combination of expectations based on previous statements made by the brand’s President, but also our own analysis (and wishes too). A source of inspiration for the evolution of the time-and-date Nautilus could be seen in what Audemars Piguet has done with its Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin, under the new reference 16202ST. In short, AP launched a new reference of its most iconic watch that looks 99% identical, with only the movement being the real novelty to be discussed. Indeed, visually, the new AP RO Jumbo is (almost) entirely identical to the previous generation, thus retaining the emblematic look of the watch and pleasing long-term owners. As such, the value (sentimental and financial) of the previous models would be retained, and at the same time, the evolution of the mechanics justifies the introduction of a new reference.
What we expect Patek Philippe to do with the replacement to the Nautilus 5711 – the possible Nautilus 6711 – would go in the same direction, to the only difference that we have in mind the idea that PP will be a bit bolder and will create a deeper evolution. Visually, a new Nautilus time-and-date somehow has to be consistent with the previous generations. The 5711, when released in 2006, was only marginally renewing the design of the original reference 3700 of 1976 – the most obvious difference being the rounded hinges on the side of the case. Mechanically, however, the introduction of the calibre 324 made a huge difference compared to the old JLC-based movement, and it also introduced a central second. But between 1976 and 2006, production techniques and movement design have drastically changed. Not so much, however, between 2006 and 2022.
Back to the possible Nautilus 6711. What we expect is a watch that will be only marginally different from the 5711, at least in terms of design. The shape and proportions of the recently discontinued model were near perfect, and there is no reason to change them drastically. We can maybe count on a few tenths of a millimetre here and there, but overall the possible 6711 would be a watch without many transformations. At least, this is what we’d like to see.
Now comes the question of the material, which has been at the centre of most discussions. Indeed, Mr Stern himself is behind this topic, after his statement. Will the new Nautilus be only available in precious metals? Will we see a new titanium case, offering a watch visually close to a steel version, yet bringing more comfort and resistance? This is the main interrogation we have regarding the replacement to the Nautilus 5711. We somehow wish it to remain steel, yet titanium would be a stunning option too. But it’s not really in Patek’s tradition and a white gold watch is an alternative that has to be considered too.
Now, what we wish to see. First, as you can see in the illustrations we’ve created (and they certainly aren’t made to be accurate, but more of a base for discussion), we’d love to see a gradient blue dial, adding some fun to the watch. We know Patek to be rather good at such dégradé dials, even on the Nautilus – think Annual Calendar 5726. We’d like the frame date window of the Olive Green model to be retained too. Regarding the habillage, since the case is already water-resistant to 120m, there’s no need for changes, but we’d like the low profile of about 8mm to remain true. What could be added to the package is an evolution of the bracelet, potentially with a micro-adjustment (or comfort extension) on the clasp, as well as an interchangeability system to offer alternative straps.
The main evolution we’d like to see in the replacement to the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 has to do with the movement. The last editions of the 5711 were equipped with the in-house Calibre 26-330 S C (which replaced the 324 in 2019), equipped with stop-seconds. This movement was already well equipped, with the Gyromax balance and Spiromax balance spring (made of Silinvar, a silicon-based material). However, this movement is known for its short power reserve, as rated by the brand at “min. 35 hours – max. 45 hours.” In 2022, we certainly can expect a brand like Patek Philippe to be able to offer something better, without compromising the thinness of the movement and of the watch to house it. As such, we’d like the possible Nautilus 6711 to be equipped with a self-winding movement boasting about 60 to 70 hours of power reserve (if AP has done it with the calibre 7121, Patek can surely do it too).
If Patek Philippe is releasing a new version of the Nautilus time-and-date, there’s one characteristic of the watch that we can tell you in advance with absolute certainty… And that has to do with availability. Don’t expect this possible Nautilus 6711 to be a watch for the masses. It won’t. Period!
Let us know in the comments below what you expect from a possible new version of the Nautilus, what you’d love to see updated, retained, changed.