Watch lovers around the globe were met with surprising news as they took to social media this morning, as the announcement of a new 170-piece limited edition Patek Philippe 5711 Tiffany dial — in Tiffany blue, for the first time ever — flooded every watch-focused Instagram feed there is. The first bit of outrage surrounded the fact that the last release of the 5711/1A with an olive dial was touted as “the last 5711” by most media outlets that covered the release, even though that statement isn’t entirely accurate when looking at Patek’s official statement. Yes, Patek Philippe did say that production of the 5711 would end in 2021, but they also didn’t explicitly say that the green reference was to be the last hurrah. In this rush-to-publish era of digital reporting, we can’t say that we’re surprised that conclusions were jumped to. What we are surprised by is the volume of of people (who clearly didn’t read the press release, nor the Patek Philippe website) getting up in arms over these 170 examples of the Nautilus that will be allocated to Tiffany & Co clients before the work day comes to a close.
Now that it has been announced that the Ref. 5711/1A in stainless steel will soon bePatek Philippe press release, April 7th 2021 announcing the olive dial 5711/1A
discontinued, Patek Philippe is unveiling this cult model with an olive green dial – a hue that
never existed before in the Nautilus collection.
With the fire firmly lit, Phillips Auctions arrived with a canister of gasoline mere minutes later. On December 11th, Phillips will auction off the first and only publicly available reference of this new Tiffany blue Patek Philippe Nautilus. As some will remember, the first of the olive dial models to go to auction came from the hands of a known collector and fetched half a million dollars. What this meant to the internet enthusiast at large is that some other greedy collector had an allocation secured before the news broke, and already intended to net themselves a healthy profit. Much as was the case with the discontinuation, this also is quite far from the truth. Though a formal press release has yet to be issued, the auction piece is question is coming directly from Tiffany & Co, and the proceeds of the sale are going directly to The Nature Conservancy charity.
That’s not to say that one of these Tiffany blue Nautilus 5711 won’t ever go to auction, mind you. The Nautilus market continues to chart above and beyond anyone’s expectations, and even with the understanding that Patek will blacklist you from any future purchase when you flip one of their watches (if you purchased from an authorized dealer), we can say with certainty that there will be some buyers that will happily take that risk if it means a significant cash-out.
Hoopla aside, this new Tiffany blue Nautilus 5711/1A in steel is a watch deserving of icon status. With so few pieces in the market, and the (once again) speculation that this is finally the “final edition” of the reference, Patek collectors are already jockeying for position on the allocation list. As if it wasn’t enough of a rare bird on account of its dial colour, there’s another hidden surprise on its caseback. Patek Philippe’s CEO Thierry Stern wanted to do something special for Bernard Arnault — CEO of LVMH, who finalized the acquisition of Tiffany & Co in January of 2021. Looking at the caseback of this new watch, the years 1851-2021 are marked on the display back as a nod to the 170th year of the partnership between the two brands. Hidden in the number one of the current year, you’ll note the letters LVMH in fairly small print — an easter egg, if you will. Once again this has triggered at least a few who were already disgruntled about the sale of the American jewelry powerhouse to a larger luxury group. To be frank, if the watch were suddenly produced by a subsidiary of LVMH instead of Patek we could understand people being up in arms, but the freak out over four little letters is a bit much.
In the simplest of terms, there is no “satisfying the mass” with any kind of moves by Patek Philippe, shy of saying that they’re going to make an additional 60,000 steel Nautilus references in an attempt to satisfy the market’s pent-up demand. Patek is in an extremely strong market position and any move they could possibly make is destined to offend or upset someone. A key element of the definition of luxury is scarcity, and with everyone jumping to buy any available Nautilus reference, any new model is destined to be inherently scarce in the open market. It’s par for the course, and will continue to be once the brand announces the new Nautilus successor in 2022. For better or worse, this remains one of the most coveted watches on the planet, and it’s readily apparent that there’s no plan to make them any easier to get your hands on. You can hate on it all you want, but one thing is clear. There are, and will continue to be, plenty of people willing to spend an astronomical amount of money to acquire the Nautilus that the rest of us aren’t able or willing to pull the trigger on.