Well, make no mistake dear readers, you didn’t exactly love the two 40th Anniversary Nautilus watches when we shared the press release pictures with you, and boy did you ever let us know it. “Vulgar and grotesque” opined one reader â and compared to some other comments, that one was a model of diplomatic circumspection. We’ve now had a chance to see them in the metal and while we’re still not sure they’re going to win watch geek hearts and minds, we will say they’re quite a bit more under-the-radar than they appear in the press kit pics.
Yes, the 40th anniversary dial stamp (which has been dubbed the “tombstone” by the online community, and it seems the name is going to stick) is there, but in the metal, it’s considerably more subtle. In fact, on the wrist it would actually be quite easy to miss. Certainly it’s not nearly as prominent as in the press kit images.
The blue dial is much brighter in the press kit images as well; in the metal, it’s a deep, iridescent indigo with a subtle shimmer that works very well set against the case finish and geometry. Depending on how the light hits it, the dial can be anything from a shimmering, peacock blue, to almost black.
The diamond indexes are also pretty subtle (as far as diamonds go, of course) and with the mind conditioned to expect metal markers, you would tend to read them as metal unless you had been informed beforehand that they were diamond. Even if you do know, it’s not as if the fact that they are diamonds jumps out at you either. The two watches work in a way I didn’t expect, which is as stealth-luxury pieces and as, oddly, a sort of commentary on the use of steel in the original Nautilus. When the Nautilus came out, it was definitely not a tool watch; Patek’s ad copy read: “One of the costliest watches on Earth is made of steel.” Producing 40th anniversary editions in white metals that mimic the look of stainless steel seems an interesting provocation in that context.
That they’re quite an incredible business for Patek Philippe should probably go without saying â the combined retail price for both these limited editions is a staggering $204,687,000. Â
Obviously Patek’s margin is going to be a fraction of that, but a fraction of a quarter of a billion dollars is still a very satisfying sum of money. Notwithstanding, as watches, they’re far from the garish pieces of ostentation I was expecting, and while they’re still not the refresh of, and homage to, the Nautilus a lot of cognoscenti wanted, they’re not the shrill, chunky pieces of obvious show-off bling that I thought they were going to be either.
There’s a lot of room for debate over what Patek should or should not have done for the 40th anniversary of the Nautilus. However, taken on their own, these are beautifully made watches with a ton of presence. We’re very curious to see how reaction to them shakes out over the next few months, especially as more people see them in real life. These live shots are in their own way as selective in the details they do or do not emphasize as the original press shots (that’s just the nature of photos), but we do think that encountered first-hand, the 5711/1P and 5976/1G make a very different impression than in the press releases, though whether it’s better or worse is a matter of taste. Â
If you’re interested in re-visiting initial reactions to these watches, check out Stephen’s coverage and first impressions, from earlier this month.