The Treasured Patek Philippes Headline Christie’s Important Watches Sale


Of the 146 lots in the sale, brands range from Rolex to Breguet, Harry Winston to Jaeger-LeCoultre; styles include items with alligator straps, hundreds of diamonds, and ties to racing greats like Paul Newman. But it’s the variety of 40 historic Patek Philippe Nautilus watches—in honor of the model’s 40th anniversary—that especially caught our eye.

Designed by Gérald Genta, who sketched the brand on a napkin in a restaurant in Basel, Switzerland, the Nautilus was released in 1976 as a way to re-invigorate a high-end Swiss watch industry under assault by quartz-movement newcomers. Fast-forward four decades, and the Nautilus design remains an icon of steel mechanical automatic movement—the model that was first introduced at a crazily inexpensive (for a Patek) $3,100, roughly $13,000 in today’s money, will now sell for as much as $250,000.

Not a Nautilus fanatic? There are dozens of other impeccable watches on sale next week as well. Here are some of them.

Patek Philippe 18K Gold Nautilus Automatic Wristwatch

Lot 138: Ref. 3700/1 comes with automatic movement and 36 jewels incorporated into its 18K gold case, 42mm bezel and black dial. It was manufactured in 1980. Est. $40,000–$80,000 

Patek Philippe Stainless Steel Nautilus Wristwatch

Lot 145: The automatic-movement Ref. 5980/1A from 2008 is black-ribbed with white-gold indexes and a 44mm-wide steel case. It comes accompanied by a Tiffany & Co. certificate of origin, plus spare bracelet link, instruction manual, and leather case. Est. $25,000–$35,000 


“From late 1970s examples of stainless steel Ref. 3700/1A ‘Jumbos’ to current production models, the Nautilus 40 not only tells a story of the last 40 years of Nautilus, it tells the story of how watch companies continue to reinvent themselves in the marketplace,” said John Reardon, the International Head of Department, Watches, at Christie’s.