36 – 38mm
Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800
The Nautilus has proven that a once questionable strategy deployed by Patek Philippe in the mid-1970s turned out to be one of their most important decisions. In the midst of the Japanese-fueled Quartz Crisis, the diplomatic Swiss were pinned to the wall with little hope of peace, surrendering seemed to be the only viable option. Few brands persisted and held their own during the turbulent times, as such a fine gentleman by the name of Gerald Genta, who had recently designed the first sports luxury watch – The Royal Oak, took the helm in developing a similar collection for Patek Philippe.
Naturally, the Royal Oak and Nautilus shared common traits such as water resistance up to 120 meters, stainless steel cases, integrated polished and beveled bracelets, date function, and an automatic movement. Back then the concept of a luxury sports watch was rather comical, the trajectory of the sports luxury watch segment seemed bleak, both the Royal Oak and Nautilus appeared to struggle during the initial years of the launch.
The original Nautilus Ref. 3700 often referred to as the Jumbo, due to its rather large properties, the case measured 42mm and the thickness 7.5mm. It is believed that the Ref. 3800 was first produced in the early 1980s, as an alternative to the ref. 3700 – the ‘Jumbo’ with a more modestly size case diameter of 37.5mm. There are various theories behind this strategic move, some scholars suggest that the mid-size Nautilus would target women whereas others suggest that the demand for the Jumbo was rather poor and hence the birth of the mid-size. The mid-size, ref. 3800, is by no means a compromise to the Jumbo, it shares virtually all the same characteristics as its sibling reference.
The dial is essentially identical, displaying hues of darkish blue along with horizontal grooves, the 18-carat white gold hour markers are filled with tritium, this example displays patina, as a result, the color of the hour markers are of an orangey-brownish finish and the black date wheel is thought to be rather rare in the realm of this reference. The Greek letter ‘sigma’ found on at the bottom of the dial “O swiss O”, was a visual declaration of the use of precious materials and was adopted by a number of manufacturers throughout the 19070s.
The bracelet is finished to a high level, with angular, beveled, and polished edges. This example is accompanied with three extra links, the overall condition of the bracelet is of a high standard, showing virtually no signs of stretch. The clasp signed ‘Nautilus’ – Patek Philippe Geneve, Steel Inox Swiss Made’ appears to be period correct. The sapphire on the dial appears to be marginally scratched, not the actual dial.
The calibre 335 SC (second centrale) is fitted in this particular reference indicating that this is one of the earlier examples to have been produced. Our example features a date quick set function which would indicate that its period correct, second generation calibre, as confirmed by the extract from the archives. The case number 2.853.XXX and movement number 1.426.7XX are of matching nature according to the extract from the archives. In 1992 the calibre was updated to the 330 SC, for a detailed study of the ref. 3800 we would encourage you to read this study.
Brand: Patek Philippe
Movement: Calibre 335 SC
Case Diameter: 37.5mm
Year: November, 1988 (sold)
Box & Papers: Extract