There are a lot of good reasons to want a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711. An updated version of the brand’s pioneering original Nautilus model from the late 1970s, the 5711 is everything a steel sports watch should be: tough, handsome, and instantly recognizable. It comes with a good story, too. Legendary watch designer Gérald Genta, it is said, sketched the original design inspired by a diving helmet on a napkin over lunch one day, and changed watches forever. The problem is, even with a duffle bag stuffed with the $37,800 sticker price in unmarked bills, you’ll find it nearly impossible to get one at retail, and on the grey market, you can expect to pay more than double for it. The craziest part? That’s probably still a bargain.
“If you’re new to watches, it might be hard to imagine an era when [the Nautilus] wasn’t so sought after,” says Paul Boutros, Americas’ head of watches and senior vice president at the auction house Phillips, of the soaring demand for the 5711. According to data from the online watch marketplace Chrono24, as recently as 2016 the average price of a 5711 was between $30,000 and $40,000 — a far cry from the nearly six figures pristine models are fetching today.
The 5711’s Value from 2013 to Present
There are a lot of factors driving demand for steel sports watches, from Instagram to the loosening of business dress codes, but Boutros traces the craze for 5711s back to October 2017, when a Rolex Daytona once owned by Paul Newman sold at Phillips for over $17 million. “That result was covered by media around the world, and it opened many people’s eyes to the enduring value of a fine timepiece,” Boutros says.
If your heart is set on a 5711, you’ll need deep pockets and a lot of patience. Patek Philippe estimates it makes enough 5711s to meet only about 10 per cent of global demand, and retailers are so overwhelmed with requests that many don’t even keep waiting lists. “We get many requests for the 5711, but production is so limited that it’s difficult for customers to get their hands on one,” says Ferit Tecimer, owner of Humbertown Jewellers, the Patek Philippe dealer in Toronto. “Fortunately, Patek Philippe makes many other beautiful models, so I can usually offer customers something equally special as an alternative.”
This imbalance of supply and demand for the Nautilus is unlikely to change anytime soon. If, however, you want to get ahead of the next trend, Boutros has one word of advice: gold. While yellow gold sports watches still command a premium over their steel counterparts, the current craze for steel makes them not quite as rare, and a good bet to increase in value. The only thing as reliable as the price of gold, it seems, is the value of a Swiss sports watch.