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Patek Philippe - Nautilus, The Never-Ending ending

Patek Philippe Nautilus, The Never-Ending ending

Between the announcement of the ref.5711 termination and its actual disappearance from the Patek Philippe catalogue, this model has gone through the roof

When a massive star dies, it sets off a flash of light and heat known as a Supernova. Extremely bright, the phenomenon spreads over a prolonged time in order for its energy to disperse. The much touted retirement of the steel Patek Philippe Nautilus ref.5711 has created such an event. Lately, this über-speculative watch has been trading at 10 to 15 times its official retail price. The brand has consistently refused to increase production to match a fierce demand, for cultural as well as industrial reasons. It's come to a point where the model eats away at the brand's image, which is made of much more than a steel, sports watch, albeit an absolute cult one. In order to turn the table, Thierry Stern, Patek Philippe's President, announced in late January of 2021 that this model would be retired from the collection by the end of that year. And indeed, when the 2022 price list was released, the 5711 was no longer featured. Between these two events, speculation went berzerk, fuelled by a certain number of communication points discreetly spun by the brand.

Nautilus, the never-ending ending

Nautilus 5711/1A-010 © Patek Philippe

First off, Patek gave the impression they were killing the golden goose. Bewilderment #1. It created a massive disappointment for all those on immeasurable waiting lists. Bewilderment #2. As they announced that retirement, they didn't specify a time table. Uncertainty #1. And they didn't announce a replacement. Uncertainty #2. Plus they didn't specify that the other Nautilus would be maintained. Subtility #1. But most of all, they launched a final salvo of new variants that would have the Nautilus go with a bang. Subtility #2.

After injecting all the ingredients that would send speculation soaring, the brand added desirability and scarcity by launching several limited editions. Even more limited than the already scarce production of that model. Let's mention the green dial 5711/1A-014. Reselling price reaches over 700 000 €. That's 25 times boutique price. Or the 5711 Tiffany, one of which notoriously sold at auction for over 200 times its actual price. Had Patek wanted to make a big hit, and play a trick on professional traders and their customers, they wouldn't have proceeded any differently. 

Nautilus, the never-ending ending

Nautilus 5711/1A-014 © Patek Philippe

The issue with the 5711 is that it's gnawing at the brand, its prestige, its creativity, its diversity. It is such a focus point that everything else seems left to the side...to a certain extent, just try and buy a QP or a minute repeater at any Patek AD, you'll see ! So in order to solve the problem, they retired it. Only it wasn't an actual problem. The Nautilus' popularity provided the brand with enormous exposure with certain age and style classes they couldn't dream of having any traction with even five years ago. The idea was actually to take advantage of that craze and turn its disadvantages around. 

With Watches & Wonders around the corner, which Patek will be a part of for the first time, the 5711 may be about to be replaced. If they do so with a, let's say 5811 or any other similar reference with a couple of altered details, which is what every single brand does with their icons, then we can say for sure that Patek played a massive trick on everyone. The worst part is, it won't even damage its rating. If it isn't, the already huge demand for the Aquanaut, Patek Philippe's other sports watch, will only gain momentum. The same goes for all the other Nautilus, those with power reserve, perpetual calendar, chronograph, any and all variations they can come up with, which they have never had any intention of letting go. 

Nautilus, the never-ending ending

5711/1A-018 Bleu Tiffany © Patek Philippe

The one thing we can take away from all this is : you can't kill a myth. It will only get stronger. So you might as well take maximum advantage of it.

 

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