Buying Guide The Most Sought-After Patek Philippe Models in Collection – And the Sad Reality of the Market

The sad reality of an investment-driven market that hasn't much to do with passion anymore.

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Brice Goulard | ic_query_builder_black_24px 9 minute read |

Last week, we published an article that we believed was a “necessary evil”. We listed the 5 most sought-after Rolex watches currently in production and looked at their “real” market value, the reasons behind the trend and the premium you actually have to pay if you want to get your hands on these watches today. This article has been a hot topic of discussion, with many comments – most of them very interesting. For this reason, we’ve decided to also look at another brand, which is now under the same speculative bubble: Patek Philippe. So here are the hottest Patek Philippe watches now in the collection and guess what, all of them are Nautilus and Aquanaut models. Here’s what you’ll have to pay if you want to skip the (sometimes even 10-year) waiting list.

The Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 is one of the most desirable watches on the market today, if not THE most desirable one.

The fame of the Nautilus, especially the time-and-date steel/blue dial version, a.k.a. the reference 5711/1A-010, is a topic that Frank already covered in a highly personal article. In his quest for finding an example, Frank actually ends his story by explaining why he didn’t buy one, and instead went for a used 911. The worst part is that, since we published that article, the situation has gone entirely mad – truly, deeply, insanely mad. In the same way that the Rolex Daytona has today become a trading commodity, the 5711 and anything steel Nautilus/Aquanaut have become watches desired by everyone – most of the time, not for the right reasons. Most of the time, these people don’t even know what a Nautilus is, where it comes from and why they should, arguably, get one… or not.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711
Two of the most sought-after watches on the market, Royal Oak Extra-Thin and Nautilus 5711 – two watches that are friendly foes since the mid-1970s.

So here we are, with a list of seven Patek Philippe Nautilus and Aquanaut watches – we could even add two or three other references currently in production and multiple vintage or discontinued versions to the list (think 3700A, 3711G, 3712A, 5980A and more).

Note that these Patek Phillipe models are currently almost impossible to get at the listed RRP, from an official retailer, without being on a waiting list. And the waiting list, according to some sources, could easily run-up to an eye-watering 10 years! Paying a premium at a non-official watch seller is the only way to go if you want one immediately. Sadly.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711

The Patek Nautilus 5711 is today’s equivalent of Marylin Monroe in the 1950s… An object of desire for most men. Its desirability rate is so high that we no longer count the length of the waiting list  – it is said to be somewhere between eight years and 12 years, at official boutiques and authorized retailers. The Nautilus 5711 is objectively a great watch, which looks good, is very nicely manufactured, wears great and has a perfect balance between sporty and dressy. It is a great watch, but not the best watch of the lot. There are dozens of alternatives for the same price and hundreds of great watches for lower budgets, which are available right now.

Still, this isn’t the question anymore. The ref. 5711 is the definition of nonsense. It is a vicious circle: the more people talk about it, the less it becomes available. The less available it is, the more people want it. The more people want it NOW, the more the prices increase. The more the prices increase, the more people become aware of the existence of this watch… And so on.

Today, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 is listed around EUR 27,500. And even though some are produced, the brand doesn’t want to flood the market with too many pieces. So for the time being, finding one at retail price is impossible, or simply requires a lot of patience.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711-

Reality: A year ago, the average price for a Nautilus 5711 on the second-hand (grey) market was around EUR 45,000. Today, the average price for a white dial model is around EUR 55,000, and the average price for a blue dial version is around EUR 65,000. Note that a mint/unworn model, with box and papers, can easily fetch EUR 70,000. And that makes a nice 155% premium over the retail price… Also, note that no fewer than 259 steel 5711s are listed now on Chrono24. Who said scarcity?

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712

Besides the ref. 5711, the other truly iconic and desirable model in the Nautilus line up is the ref. 5712. Based on the same case and bracelet, yet with a different movement – with complications and 240-based micro-rotor calibre – this watch has always been slightly in the shadows compared to the time-and-date model. However, now that the ref. 5711 is under the spotlights, the rest of the Nautilus collection follows the same trend, especially steel models on steel bracelets. And the ref. 5712, with its unbalanced but full-of-charm dial, is today as difficult to acquire as it is expensive on the second-hand market.

The RRP of the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712/1A-001 is now around EUR 37,000 and the waiting list is also around six to eight years.

Reality: Getting a ref. 5712 in steel on steel bracelet, at retail price, is a Utopia… This means that prices are today around EUR 75,000, with a mint/unworn model, with box and papers, being close to EUR 80,000, meaning a 115% premium over retail. Note that over 200 examples are now listed on Chrono24 – only blue dial, steel case/bracelet models.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5740

The Nautilus Perpetual Calendar ref. 5740 was presented recently at Baselworld 2018. And even though it’s now the most expensive and most complicated watch in the regular collection (apart from the iced versions), the desirability of the model soared immediately. This ref. 5740 is made of white gold and features a complex, fragile QP movement, which is far from the original vocation of this watch. Nothing to scare collectors apparently, as this watch is, like the rest of the Nautilus collection, practically unattainable.

The RRP of the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5740/1G-001 is around EUR 112,000. No words on the waiting list, but don’t expect it to be available easily at official boutiques.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar 5740G

Reality: Just like its steel sisters, the Nautilus Perpetual Calendar suffers from speculation. The average price is somewhere around EUR 195,000 to EUR 200,000 – even though we tend to be rather sceptical on the reality of these transactions. It could well be that these watches are listed without finding a new owner. As such, the premium is approximately 75%.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726A (new model)

A couple of years ago, the Nautilus Annual Calendar, the most accessible model, was oddly considered the “ugly duckling” of the collection. Well, the situation has changed, especially since Baselworld 2019 and the introduction of the ref. 5726, with a gradient blue dial, steel case and steel bracelet. This model is objectively a nice compromise, with a perfectly balanced dial, a steel case/bracelet, and a trendy colour. In this instance, it has become one of the hottest versions on the current market.

The RRP of the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726/1A-014 is around EUR 41,000. No words on the waiting list, but don’t expect it to be available easily at official boutiques.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Annual Calendar 5726 Gradient Blue Dial

Reality: This specific ref. 5726/1A-014 has just been launched and demand is high. The average price on the second-hand market in approximately EUR 105,000, meaning a 155% premium over the retail price. Note that the older versions on steel bracelets, with grey or white dials, are also suffering from the speculative bubble with average prices of EUR 90,000. The steel model on leather strap, the easiest to find on the market, is currently fetching around EUR 50,000.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167

The reason for the current demand for the Aquanaut is relatively simple to understand and sadly, has nothing to do with the watch itself. Because the Nautilus is commanding such high levels of demand, speculators thought it would be a good idea to look at its aquatic sister, the Aquanaut. After all, it is a sporty Patek in steel with a case that somehow resembles the Nautilus. A few years ago, the classic time-and-date Aquanaut, ref. 5167A-001 (on rubber) or ref. 5167/1A-001 (on steel bracelet), was relatively easy to find new and didn’t sell with a premium on the second-hand market. This situation is now over.

The RRP of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167A-001 is around EUR 17,900 and the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167/1A-001 is around EUR 20,500. No words on the waiting list, but don’t expect it to be available easily at official boutiques.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167A steel
Image by amsterdamvintagewatches.com

Reality: The Aquanaut has recently started to become hot and the prices asked by second-hand market sellers are on the rise. Currently, a nice example of 5167A-001 (on rubber strap) can’t be found for under EUR 35,000. The version on a steel bracelet requires an extra couple of thousands. This results in an approximate premium of 90% over the retail price. Overall, more than 200 steel models are listed on Chrono24. The premium for the rose gold version is “only” about EUR 10,000.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5164

The “travelling sister” of the time-and-date Aquanaut, ref. 5164, is in the same situation. This version, named Travel-Time by Patek Philippe, integrates a practical complication that allows the display of a second time zone thanks to an additional hand actuated by two pushers on the left side of the case. It also features an indication of the date and two night-and-day indicators. In our books, this is probably the best compromise and best-looking version of the Aquanaut. Unfortunately, it is equally hard to find and speculation does exist too.

The RRP of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5164A-001 is around EUR 32,000. No words regarding the waiting list, but availability is close to zero.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A Steel
Image by gruenbergwatches.com

Reality: even though this watch isn’t rare – close to 200 steel examples listed on Chrono24 – demand is high and prices are going up quickly. A nice ref. 5164A-001 will now sell around EUR 50,000, meaning a 55% premium over the retail price. The rose gold version suffers the same kind of premium.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5968

Last but not least, Patek Philippe recently presented a chronograph version of the Aquanaut, under the reference 5968A-001. This watch relies on the same base movement as the Nautilus ref. 5980/5990 or the ref. 5960. The overall design is bold, with multiple orange accents on the dial and even an orange rubber strap included in the box – in addition to a classic black rubber strap. While we were rather sceptical of the success of this watch at first, it appears that since its presentation at Baselworld 2018, the Aquanaut 5968A is in high demand.

The RRP of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5968A-001 is around EUR 41,000. No words regarding the waiting list, but availability is close to zero.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph 5968A

Reality: just like the rest of the Aquanaut collection, and like all other steel sports Patek, the prices of the Aquanaut 5968A on the second-hand market are higher than the retail price. Most of them are now listed around EUR 80,000, meaning a 95% premium over retails.

18 responses

  1. “…truly, deeply, insanely mad.”

    Haha, yeah indeed. But I suppose looking on the bright side, it’s helped elevate the high-end luxury sports ranges of other brands in general because it has shown what is possible; made them more desirable as an alternative, when the primary thought of, ‘I must have this because I cannot have it,’ has been extinguished by common sense or stark financial reality, the lust for something like it lingers.

    I must say though, thank God I’ve never loved its design.

  2. I think what this shows more than anything is how imbalanced the world economy has become. 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, 60% have less than $500 in reserve. More than 50% of UK households (not individuals) earn less than 20K per year.
    Meanwhile, you’d be forgiven for thinking from US TV that owning a three year old BMW was only for “losers”.

  3. Or as certain characters in ‘Succession’ comment on the hapless Greg’s unfortunate decision to turn his back on a $250m inheritance in favour of continuing to work for the suddenly fraught Waystar Royco Empire, after Greg consoles himself that he’ll still inherit $5m from another source: “You’ll be the poorest rich person in America. It’ll be like winning a tallest dwarf competition.”

  4. There are so many other incredible watches out there that are not only available, but a much better value. It’s too bad so many are driven by fad, popularity and marketing hype. A fool and his money…..

  5. The base Nautilus is a nice watch but as the article states, it is no longer seen for what it is. Even at list price it is pushing it because of the PP name and the “Gentaness”. The Aquanaut looks like the best idea Frederique Constant never had.
    But, like The “Art” World, in which talentless morons can make millions from selling garbage, sometimes literally, this simple timepiece has been taken over by, not merely the well-off, but those who spend tens of thousands on the weekend because they can’t think of anything better to do. I recently watched a documentary about a personal shopper who spent 800 grand in a London JLC boutique for his client. He bought the 3 most expensive (and most tasteless watches) they had, to go with 3 suits (one of which had platinum thread pinstripe letters spelling the names of 2 people) which the client spent literally ten minutes deciding on, for her fiance. She left the watch choice up to her personal shopper. The personal shopper she had known for ten minutes.
    Thousands of hours of painstaking work by gifted craftsmen are being bought by people who spend 30 seconds looking at it before asking, “Was this the most expensive one?”

    It is a return to Mediaeval Times, courtesy of Milton Friedman.

  6. Honestly,none of these watches are worth the prices that are being asked for them and fortunately for me, they are not the objects of my desire.

  7. Like in pieces of art, vintage cars, watches prices are defined by those who are ready to pay a certain price for it. Let them do and if you want watches, be driven by the complexity and quality of the calibre and the beauty of design.
    Some owners of high priced vintage watches might be astonished by knowing that the internal works are from Lemania, Valjoux, Zenith or ….others.

  8. It would seem that these things are now just an investment which, at the moment at least does not suffer from the volatility of speculating on currency or gold. Perhaps better to just consider that as watches they no longer exist . There is plenty of choice out there if what you want is an actual watch to wear.

  9. I love to see such a drama playing in the market reminiscent to the Dutch Tulips. Nautilus is a Genta watch made by Not a heritage piece of Patek,

    Even at the retail price, these Nautiluses are never a masterpiece of Patek, it’s obvious that Patek doesn’t want to be like another Audemars Piguet victimised by their own Royal Oak success, Royal Oak is a brand, and AP is just a maker. That’s sad

  10. The Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726A series in my opinion is as stylish as it comes..However that said I don’t find myself ever entertaining the idea of purchasing one for everyday wear. Not only the price but the advertisement of wear would draw unwelcoming notice. I own a couple of high end watches that I wear that are practical and functional for my way of life.Whether it’s diving or some other interest I have..For the price of this brand I can think of it better spent on a lot of necessities more practical ….

  11. Looks like everybody is missing the point(-s),

    – These are private co’s – they can do as they feel like. If one can charge $1m for a steel Nautilus 5711 – you are free to do it; just as you are free not to buy it…

    – The laws of supply and demand are just that – laws (like gravity). To achieve desirability, in order to leverage high demand/price for low availability, a measure of excellence has to be achieved – this excellence is the bedrock of evolutionary advancement. It is the tide that raises all ships – even the common crappy ones; hence the reason today there is less poverty than ever before (eg in the ’80’s people in Africa and China were starving to death daily).

    Normal Distribution (eg income distribution) is dictated by the bell curve. Observe the tail-ends of the curve and you will see that there will always be those who are infinitely wealthy; if you are incapable of understanding- and/or accepting the laws of nature – then move to another universe.

    As such: If you are a typical socialist loser, wearing little more than an inferiority complex on your wrist, then perhaps it is better not to visit a watch dealer – but a psychologist.

    BTW – I do not own a Patek Philippe, because I cannot afford it, for no other reason.

  12. The high prices for the Patek Philippe and the Rolex sports models is being fueled only by the grey market dealers, not by the general public.

    However, Patek Philippe and Rolex are letting this play out because it’s free publicity, and brands are benefiting from this and will continue to let it play out.

    GUARDS UP PEOPLE.
    Audemars Piguet is trying to use the same strategy. Sadly AP has only two models that are desirable, the Royal Oak, and the Royal Oak Offshore.

    The general public has control over this marketing ploy, they just don’t know it. All they have to do is stop paying theses high prices for a while (these watches are going to disappear anytime) and the price will drop. The power of BOYCOTTING can produce some interesting results!

    PM

  13. Sieg, your post is out of order. I suggest you apologise.

  14. It’s not so much that it’s out of order, rather it’s embarrassingly thick. All hail the laws of nature for you will be a fool to intervene…except when someone hurts or kills someone I know, then I want justice. Heh.

  15. Yep. “Who cares if 40% of my countrymen don’t have access to medical services. The Holy Law of The Market is immutable!”
    (Except for Agricultural Subsidies, Bank Bail-outs, Trade Tariffs…..)

  16. I spent one year with wet feet, limited drinking water, and 350 copper jacked rounds slung over my torso..and no (quality) sleep.
    I get pleasure NOW owing a steel Nautilus (for a while).

  17. Sieg if you’re over 25 years old I will buy you the one Nautilus of your choice.

  18. Steve G, I spent 1 year in the late ‘80s washing dishes in the highlands. Then I bought a Swatch Irony!

    ;-))

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