I am Legend
- 17 September 2019
The truth is, buying a watch isn’t always a walk in the park. Yes, something may look handsome and elegant, but any collector worth his salt knows that sometimes it’s what’s not seen that makes something a true work of art.
Going through timepiece features is almost like studying for an exam. It entails going through a litany of technical jargon and phrases. But before you feel inadequate and judge yourself for not being more diligent about watch terms, even one of the most important watch designers of all time famously said he “didn’t like watches!” Gérald Genta continues, “For me, watches are the antithesis of liberty. I am an artist, a painter, I hate having to adhere to the constraints of time. It irritates me.”
Interesting words from the Geneva born designer who is responsible for two of the most legendary watch designs: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus line.
It is the latter, the Nautilus design, that has kept many an avid watch-lover on a global hunt for vintage pieces. An avant-garde shaped “porthole” , this is perhaps one of the most widely celebrated designs. First debuted in 1976, it was intended as a sports watch, the rounded octagonal bezel giving a uniquely nautical feel while the dark, horizontal embossed lines on the dial that reaffirms the robust styling that creates a two-tone effect.
It would surprise one to also know that Genta famously proclaimed in 2009 that he had conjured up the design for this watch in 5 minutes, while sitting at a restaurant in Basel during an erly 1970’s watch fair. He was seated across Patek Philippe executives and called a waitor to bring him a pen and paper. The masterpiece was ultimately sketched out on a humble napkin.
Keep in mind that in this part of Patek’s history, the company was renowned for their delicate watches in precious metals. This was the theirfirst “luxury sports watch,” and was boldly crafted in stainless steel. While it was initially not well received, its popularity quickly grew and has been a mainstay of Patek Philippe’s collection until the present day.
In it’s original advertising Patek likened its brave stainless steel design to that of a sword: The copy read: “Like the great swords of another age, Nautilus took shape between the skilled hands of master craftsmen. In addition to sporty activities like diving, it was described too as something that can be festive for formal occasions, or fierce, such as when one is expected to, in their original words “set out to slay dragons in the boardroom.” You can see why the Genta, and his Nautilus , have become the stuff of legend.
MORE ABOUT THE WELL-APPOINTED LIFE 2019’s Patek Philippe Nautilus:
Produced two versions of the Nautilus reference no. 3700 in steel: 3700 / 1 from 1976 to about 1981 that featured a straight bracelet as is the present lot which is the version sought after by collectors, and reference no. 3700 / 11,which was in production from 1981 to 1990 has a tapered steel bracelet. The “Jumbo” moniker refers to the 42 mm case, with wide flat bezel, integrated steel link bracelet, and self-winding movement, possessing a rather masculine aesthetic compared to the smaller dressy gold mechanical watches of the time. Beating within is the caliber 28-255 C, finished to Geneva Seal standards, which was at the time the world’s thinnest self-winding movement with date (3.15 mm. thick). The case back and the bezel were then hermetically sealed with a gasket and was water–resistant to the depth of 120 meters (396 feet).
The present lot manufactured in 1978-1979 is a premium example of its magnificence that is totally successful and original, surviving the years with great success. Crafted to last a lifetime, this watch as tomorrow’s heirloom.
References: Patek Philippe The International Magazine, Vol. II No. 8, pp. 73-75 Antiquorum, Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces, Hong Kong, Oct 2018, Lot 412 Phillips Styled, New York, Dec 2018, Lot 86 Watchtime The World of Patek Philippe Fall 2001, p. 69