HANDS-ON: The Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5740 – the Nautilus we had to have HANDS-ON: The Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5740 – the Nautilus we had to have

HANDS-ON: The Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5740 – the Nautilus we had to have

Sandra Lane

One of the big surprises of Baselworld 2018 was Patek Philippe’s decision to add a grand complication model – specifically a perpetual calendar – to the Nautilus line. Or was it? Nautilus-with-complication is an old story (travel time, chronograph, annual calendar have all featured over the years) and the pre-Basel rumour mill was promoting the ‘perpetual’ idea pretty heavily. So when Patek unveiled the ref. 5740 there was a definite sense of “Surprise – what surprise?”

Vital statistics

The movement is one of Patek’s all-time greats: the ultra-thin self-winding calibre 240 Q – also found in the current collection in the Calatrava-cased ref. 5327. It’s essentially the same movement that was introduced in the landmark ref. 3940 in the mid-1980s and continually improved upon over the years. Those improvements include a Gyromax balance wheel and Spiromax (silicium) hairspring. The perpetual calendar display indicates the day, date, month and leap year by hands, as well as a moon phase and 24-hour display.

The white gold case measures 40mm (diagonally, from 10–4 o’clock), has a screw-down crown, helping to ensure water-resistance to 60 metres, and comes on a white gold bracelet with a folding clasp.

On the wrist

Although, for a Nautilus, there’s an awful lot happening on the dial (and under it), this is still every inch a Nautilus. In fact, it’s really notable how the case design (barely modified since the 1976 Gérald Genta original) is so strong that even an information-packed, three-register display doesn’t detract from its clarity and cohesion.

The horizontally ribbed dial – here in the same clear blue used on the 40th anniversary models and given the usual (subtle) sunray brushing – anchors those displays really well. As on all calibre 240 Q models, the arrangement of the sub-dials is very instinctive, so the information is easy to absorb. The combined date and moonphase dial, set at 6 o’clock, is larger than the other two, adding weight and balance to the overall composition.

The 5740 feels superb on the wrist – nice weight, beautiful balance, perfect size. Luckily, Patek resisted the temptation to go for the 42mm diameter it used for the 40th anniversary collection (if, indeed, it was tempted) and stuck to the 40mm. Such a strong design doesn’t need big, shouty dimensions. And it’s slim. Just 8.43mm – more than a millimetre slimmer than the Calatrava 5327 version of the QP and a mere squeak thicker than the ‘uncomplicated’ 5711, which measures 8.3mm. (As further comparison, it sits in a good place between the Vacheron Constantin Overseas QP at 8.10mm and AP’s Royal Oak Perpetual at 9.5mm thick.)

The elegant arrangement of the corrector pushers for the calendar – distributed around the lugs and ‘ears’ of the case – is barely noticeable at first. But it’s the kind of refinement Patek likes to bring to its work: visually subtle improvements that involve what seems like a disproportionate amount of technical effort – in this case, what Patek calls “deflection mechanisms” (basically, shafts with multiple right-angled bends).

The same might be said for another invisible innovation (introduced on other 2018 models, too): a new, patented fold-over clasp with four independent catches – very smooth in operation (we experienced) and more secure than a standard clasp (we are told). And shall we talk about the movement finishing? Nah – it’s a Patek grand complication. You already know it’s beautiful.

Who’s it for?

If you want one of the ultimate horological complications but can’t get your head around classical styling, this one’s for you. And if you’re tired of waiting for a 5711 … (I’m joking about that bit – although, with the premiums some dealers are asking for the simplest Nautilus, the price differential between it and a grand complication is starting to look considerably less daunting.)

Any surprises?

How clean and straightforward the dial looks – despite what could have been a chaotically busy mess of sub-dials, indications, horizontal ribbing and sunray brushing.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5740 pricing

The Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5740, 105,000 CHF (inc. taxes).