Naughty-Lust: The Legendary ‘70s Patek Philippe

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Words by: JPS for duncan quinn


The Nautilus is not like other Patek Philippes.

Compared to its slim, achingly elegant brethren its groovy, curvy case is almost obscene, in the best possible sense. It’s a Bond film starring Roger Moore, a Lamborghini owned by Dean Martin. Designed by the legendary Gérald Genta, creator of Audemars Piguet’s renowned Royal Oak, it’s meant to resemble the porthole on a luxury yacht. Surprisingly tasteful for a design from 1974, Genta is said to have sketched it over lunch during the Basel Watch Fair that year. Presumably he was consuming large quantities of champagne. He named it after Captain Nemo’s vessel in Jules Verne’s 1870 opus, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and specified that it should be rugged and water resistant.

At a time when quartz watches were in ascendance and the mechanical watch world was under threat in much the same way it is today from the likes of the Apple Watch, the Nautilus was a bold statement by Patek that traditional watchmaking was here to stay. One of the early ads for the timepiece in 1976 proclaimed it as “One of the World’s Costliest Watches” and trumpeted its stainless steel construction, flying in the face of the conventional wisdom of the day that expensive watches must be made of gold. This year Patek is celebrating the model’s 40th anniversary with an array of new Nautilus designs paying homage to the original. Old or new, this is one beauty you’ll want to strap to your wrist pronto.

Words by JPS for duncan quinn