PATEK PHILIPPE IS DELETING THE HISTORIC 5711 NAUTILUS FROM ITS LIST — IN BOTH STEEL 1A AND RED GOLD 1R VERSIONS — AND PREPARING FOR ITS SURPRISES AT THE UPCOMING WATCHES AND WONDERS IN MARCH 2022
We borrow the title of a song by the Beatles — taken from the LP Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, featuring the Yellow Submarine — to mark the end of an era: that of the “Blue Submarine” by Patek Philippe, the iconic 5711.
The move had been announced by Philip Stern last year, and it shook the watchmaking world like a tsunami. Deleting a popular reference like the 5711 had seemed like heresy to many. Still, the New King CEO had his good reasons — most importantly, to tack the Geneva-based house’s sailing ship toward the harbor of true luxury, avoiding the treacherous — and crowded — waters of the luxury sport timepieces.
Rumors from Patek claimed that the old 5711 represented something of an anomaly in the Patek household: a watch that made little sense — and on which the brand made too little money — compared to the house’s other references. And yet, this star watch is vampirized — with its list price of just under $30,000 — sales of other more beautiful and important (and we might add, lucrative for the house) references.
Stern had repeated this over and over again in his interviews. His growing impatience with this very particular model had done nothing but grow — until the recent decision to remove it from the price list, with the latest “coup de theatre” of the Tiffany Blue model, launched by the house to celebrate the milestone of 170 years of collaboration with the iconic American jeweler, owned for a few years by the LVMH luxury group. It was the swan song of the reference 5711, which had closed its honored career with the exploit of the model sold at auction last December that reached the hammer price of 6.5 million dollars.
A NAUTILUS REQUIEM
The Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A was introduced in 2006 to replace the original Nautilus 3700 designed by Gerald Genta in 1976. It represented the second generation of the model, which increased its size a bit, arriving at 40x43 mm, but it wore a bit smaller on the wrist due to its compact size and integrated bracelet.
Patek Philippe also reworked the case to allow for a more straightforward three-piece system with display back, following the trends of horology fashion and letting people admire the movement at work. Also, it was made available with a leather wristband instead of the integrated bracelet designed by Genta.
The Nautilus 5711 was initially equipped with the Patek Philippe 315 SC full-rotor automatic caliber. Still, this movement was quickly replaced by the new 324 SC later in the same year, which had a higher 28,800 beat rate. In 2019, Patek Philippe substituted the 324 SC with the new Cal. 26–330, featuring a different geometry of the wheels to ensure a smoother gliding of the central second hand.
THE GREAT SUBMARINE BUBBLE
The growing affection of the market towards this iconic model, which the company produced in so few pieces (the last waiting list blues circulated on the net lamented of a twelve years wait), had favored the phenomenon of the speculative bubble buildup. It has ballooned out of all proportion until the timepiece had reached quotations on the second-hand market that were not an expression in the specific technical value of the watch, except in its rarity and demand by the fans.
Quotations that last year’s announcement did nothing but increase, almost as if Stern had thrown gasoline on the fire, and that we are confident will increase again. As of today, a blue 5711 in steel starts from around $180,000, while a 5711 in red gold goes way higher, from $350,000 if you are lucky, but often close to half a million. And this latest event is bound to influence the prices of other similar Patek models, which will probably shoot upwards, feeding the virtuous circle of price — demand-supply.
A THINNING OUT OF MODELS
Patek Philippe did not limit itself to putting the 5711 on the chopping block: it took the opportunity to prune its lineup a little, getting rid of some other references such as the Perpetual Calendar ref. 5320G with its syringe hands — which was not appreciated much by the public — and the platinum chronograph with salmon dial ref. 5270P.
Rumors, already widely circulated in the past months, give for sure a new version of the Nautilus — the 6711 — with supposed titanium and a platinum model present. Still, we can neither affirm nor deny that the new heir of the Nautilus 5711 will be just that. And let’s be clear: the Nautilus as a model continues to be available in the Patek Philippe offering. So what disappears is “only” the 5711 proper — other references still stay.
We know that the next edition of Watches and Wonders, scheduled for the end of next March 2022, promises to be very hot and full of news. Not only we are waiting to check if there will be a reference to replace the 5711 on which the house will be able to unload the waiting lists of loyal fans of the brand, but we are also very curious to see how the other greats will react, and specifically, Audemars Piguet, which Royal Oak has been the only one grand champion of the stable for quite some time.
In the meantime, let’s consign the 5711 and its oh-so-retro yet still relevant appeal to watchmaking history. Adieu, 5711, and goodbye to Gerald Genta’s dream of bringing steel into luxury watchmaking. We think the future horology market, mainly the luxury sports niche, will be very different after this model walks down the sunset boulevard.