Many would describe it as the ultimate sports watch. The Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph ref. 5980/1A, affectionately known by some as the Jumbo Chronograph, has it all. Heritage, elegance and complication. Today, we’ll be able to discover the pleasure of owning such a masterpiece (an not the classical edition, but probably the rarest one). This is not Kristian Haagen’s first time on the Collector’s Series, as we previously discovered the story behind his Datograph Perpetual Grey Dial. We are delighted to welcome him back to discuss a watch he described to me as his coolest! We find out how he came to own several Patek Philippe Nautilus watches, including his Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph ref. 5980/1A with a white Tiffany dial (yes, that’s what makes the difference between a cool and an ultra-cool watch) as well as what he anticipates from Patek in the future.
When the Nautilus was first launched in 1976, it featured an ultra thin mechanical automatic winding movement, calibre 28-255C based on the Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 920. This was also the same movement as used in the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402ST. The Nautilus ref. 5980/1A is the same classic Nautilus with the addition of a chronograph function (read our full review here). The sub-dial is also a co-axial chronograph counter, which allows the wearer (in this case, collector and watch expert Kristian Haagen) to keep track of both the minutes and the hour without the need for an additional sub-dial.
Kristian, what is it about Patek that stole your heart?
Since I was a little kid I was fascinated by the Nautilus. It was featured in the ads in National Geographic, which was my favorite reading material throughout my entire childhood. That watch really had my full attention. And I actually had Patek Philippe stickers underneath my skateboard. The other kids plastered their boards with stickers from Rip Curl, F2, Vans etc. I guess my passion for watches showed at an early stage.
When did you come to own the Nautilus Chrono?
I was at the Monaco Yacht Show in 2009, enjoying ice cold white wine with watch journalist Gisbert Brunner back in 2009. Gisbert talks about his love for Patek Philippe and in midst of his serenade a dandy Italian passes our table, wearing the blue dial Nautilus Chronograph. Full of sunshine, good wine and hence feeling a little braver than when sober, I immediately call a good friend of mine who had the blue dial ref. 5980 for sale.
One the plane back home I was a little shocked by my very spontaneous purchase, but I have never ever regretted it. It is one of my favourite watches in my collection.
It’s a watch with immense history, can you tell us abit more:
Well, the Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph 5980 was not designed by Genta, but the original ref. 3700-lines from 1976 are of course very visible. Name-wise I believe the American USS Nautilus nuclear submarine (or Captain Nemo’s mighty submarine of Jules Verne’s science-fiction epic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) was the source of inspiration, when Patek Philippe decided for the name. I could be wrong, but in my head it makes sense.
Did this history play a significant role in your decision to buy?
I already had the three-hander ref. 5711 in my collection, when I bought the ref. 5980. So I was very aware about the new generation Nautilus that was launched in 2006 for the 30th anniversary of the iconic watch. And a very dear friend of mine had always talked warmly about the Nautilus, of course having an effect on me. My ex-girlfriend wore the ladies’ version for many years, while we were dating. So the Nautilus certainly has been in my radar for many many years.
Aesthetically, what stood out for you?
I had actually never imagined that I would buy the ref. 5980 as I was not very fond of the chronograph pusher design. They did not do anything good to the overall design. At least that was my initial thoughts. I have learned to love that odd design now. I mean, my left ear sits higher than my right and my girlfriend still says she loves me. I guess we can all learn to live with oddity, eh?
Is the Nautilus an icon that will endure the test of time?
It is an icon for sure. But the ref. 5711 only, as the Chronograph and any other Nautilus with complications is an add-on to the collection. And since the steel version of the ref. 5980 Chronograph was discontinued a few years back, I cannot see this particular model as a future icon. Yes, you can get two-tone and gold versions of the 5980 still. But to me the Nautilus has to be in steel. I had a rose gold ref. 5712 for three years, but I never got used to the precious metal. It was too blingy. The steel versions fit my lifestyle better.
How does the Nautilus fit into your lifestyle?
I never take off my watch. As in ever. It is a part of me. I wear my watch in to bed too. Allow me to quote my girlfriend one particular morning: “Your watch is scratching me. But at least it is a Patek scratching me.”
All my watches in my collection show signs from very frequent wear – except for my white dial Tiffany & Co ref. 5980 Nautilus Chronograph that looks like new. But that watch is so rare (less than eight known according to a former Tiffany staffer) that I actually see that more as an investment piece than a daily wearer. Very unlike me, admittedly. I don’t really see modern watches as a good investment.
Have you been out to the Patek manufacture?
I was invited for and attended for the 175th anniversary at the manufacture in 2014. But Patek Philippe is actually one of the very few manufacturers I have never visited. Strange actually. But they have never invited me.
I know you’re a big fan of the brand, what do you anticipate from them in the coming months/years?
I would like to see more refinement from Patek. I was quite disappointed with some of the anniversary models (here and here). Some of the BaselWorld 2015 models were actually better looking (like this, this or this).
Also I think the ref. 5990 is a clumsy design, ruining the original features of the Nautilus design and construction. The aesthetics are gone. As in completely. I didn’t even know it was possible to destroy such a perfect design in such vulgar manner, putting every design rule aside and destroying your own iconic product. (Do I sound upset)? So, dear Patek Philippe design team: sit back, relax, listen to the eight track and make sure the Nautilus collection keeps the good looks, seducing us for decades to come.
Bashing aside: I believe my Nautilus ref. 5726 is one of the most perfect watches on the market. Besides from the good design, the functions (annual calendar and AM/PM indicator) are right on par. I wear it on the black rubber strap that comes with the watch, which makes it sit absolutely perfect on my wrist. And I regret selling my ref. 5712. Can see myself re-purchasing that watch if my next book project turns out to be a success. Also such a great Nautilus.
When it comes to value for money, how does the Nautilus fair in your opinion?
Any watch in the luxury segment is way too overpriced. So in terms of value for money, no modern watch qualifies. But if I divide the thrill I get every time I look at that stunning dial of my 5980 with the actual price I paid in 2009, then I’d say I have already had full value for my money!
What do you think the Nautilus say’s about you when people see it on the wrist?
It is probably the watch I wear the most and that since September 2009. I guess the watch I wear is such a big part of me, that nobody cares what clothes I wear. I could have been naked talking to you now, but your full attention would have been on my wrist, right?
What is your favourite feature of the watch?
That stunning blue dial!
What three words would you use to describe your Nautilus?
My. Coolest. Watch.
All photos credited to Kristian Haagen.