Patek Philippe 5711/1A-014: up close to the khaki green Nautilus
A new dial colour by Patek Philippe makes for a Nautilus heirloom design
The Nautilus has become such a recognised, classic design it is difficult today to imagine the furore it caused when it was first introduced in 1976. Designed by the legendary Gérald Genta it was then in the vanguard of an entirely new class of timepieces – the luxury sports watch. Like its peers, it was a reaction to the Japanese quartz revolution that had shaken the Swiss watch industry to its very foundations for a simple reason – precision was no longer. And so Patek Philippe realised it had to come up with something completely new that would excite the upcoming generation of customers.
Like so many other great moments of creativity, the Nautilus came about in a flash of inspiration. History has it that Genta came up with the idea while dining alone in a restaurant when he spotted executives from Patek Philippe sitting together in a corner. For some reason, he thought of the portholes of transatlantic liners and sketched his first design in five minutes – fittingly the inspiration for the name came from the submarine commanded by Captain Nemo in Jules Verne’s novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
Whether true or not, the story confirms the fact that great design itself is timeless. The horizontal lines of the guilloché dial – sometimes referred to as “the garage door” – still look contemporary today. Of course, in the years that have followed the Nautilus has evolved but is still a testament to the genius of Genta’s original design. However, to the surprise of many, Patek Philippe has announced that the steel 5711 Nautilus family, which debuted in 2006, will be discontinued after this year, after having reached the point where the waiting list was more than ten years long.
With a nod to contemporary style, the latest – and, of course, last – members of the steel Nautilus 5711 family launched this year now include an olive green dial in a stainless steel case or with a diamond-set bezel. Alongside these, the new reference 5990 Travel Time Chronograph comes in rose gold with a more traditional blue sunburst dial or a spectacular pave-set option for the Reference 7118.
But we will all have to wait until next year to see what the latest chapter in the Nautilus history might hold. In the meantime, with these final pieces we can enjoy a classic cliff-hanger.