The iconic Patek Philippe’s Nautilus

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August 1, 2019

It is propelled beyond the realm of mortal watches, and perhaps have become a luxury item turned cultural objects like the Hermès Birkin, the Rive Aquarama yacht and the Ferrari 250 GTO. At its official list price of R330,000.00, the Patek Phillip’s Nautilus is in the foothills of Patek pricing.  Just try finding one in that range… either end up on a waiting list (which is never a given) of more or less seven years or you end up on purchasing it from the secondary market at triple the price tag.

In nineteen seventy-six the 137-year old watchmaker released this icon in the shape that defied traditional geometric definition and is best described as looking like a porthole, with earlike flanges on either side that screw together to make a watertight case.  The case and bracelet were designed as one, with the interaction of brushed, satinated and polished steel surfaces inviting the light to caress and play over its sleek lines to seduce the eye of the wearer.  The Nautilus was constructed with an active lifestyle in mind.

Gerald Genta, had started by selling designs to Piguet and IWC, as well as founding his own brand. The Nautilus is arguably his masterpiece, a work of genius created by an artist at the height of his powers. At the time of the Nautilus launch, the broader world beyond the close-knit Geneva watch industry did not know about Genta. But by the time the Nautilus turned 40 in 2016, watch awareness was such that the name Genta and the extent of his work were as well, if not better known than, the oeuvre of the Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro.

In studying this timepiece and share its story with you, it invigorates me to go on the search for one myself and perhaps will let you know when we find one.  But according to their slogan, I’ll do it for my daughter’s sake: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”

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