Patek Philippe, a family enterprise under the direction of Thierry Stern and the creative direction of Sandrine Stern, has been offering the promise of daily exceptionalism for over a century. This adventure begins with the Nautilus collection, first released in 1976. It was the first in the Jumbo genre and had a very unique aesthetic. In an era of powerful or luxurious watches, Patek Philippe chose to bring the first luxury sports watches into the higher tier watch market. With its case inspired by a porthole and a novel octagonal bezel with soft angles, the Nautilus quickly set itself apart with its unique design and uncommon dependability. The incomparable signature of an era, this luxurious watch was made of steel – a scandal! Without metal or precious stones, against the grin of luxury watches in those days, this watch designed by Gerald Genta – who had already imagined the Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet in 1972 – made its grand entry into history.
Patek Philippe’s creation incarnates a new lifestyle that unites robustness and elegance. With a diameter of 42mm – when the tastes of the day were for small watches – the Nautilus reinvented geometry with its bezel that’s neither round nor square, but octagonal. With no frills, it captures the gaze with its two hinges on the left and right of the case. Its name is taken from a mastodon of a different kind: a deep sea mollusk whose tightly closed shell echoes out to this watch’s waterproof capabilities up to 120 meters, made possible by its special mono-block conception. It’s also an homage to the famous submarine in Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. But soon, the legend caught up with the watch, and waitlists got longer and longer. The Nautilus would also start to appear in catalogues of the big auction houses. It wouldn’t take much more for it to become a cult classic!
The history of Philippe Patek has also became intertwined with auction records. In November 2016, item 1518, a steel watch from 1943 equipped with a perpetual date with moon phases, sold for $11 million. This was a record for a bracelet-style watch. On May 14th, a new auction took place for the extraordinary “Calibre 89” pocket watch. This yellow gold pocket watch with 33 complications appeared in Geneva as a masterpiece of watchmaking, the most significant ever to go up for auction. The style was imagined in 1989 for Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary.