The new 5711 successor – the 5811/1G Nautilus – is a bit of a letdown. But it is our fault, not Patek’s The new 5711 successor – the 5811/1G Nautilus – is a bit of a letdown. But it is our fault, not Patek’s

The new 5711 successor – the 5811/1G Nautilus – is a bit of a letdown. But it is our fault, not Patek’s

Zach Blass

“Anticipation, I suppose, sometimes exceeds realisation,” Amelia Earhart once said. Ever since the final swan song of the Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711, which, at times felt like a never-ending Elton John farewell tour, the rumour mill instantly began swirling. Everybody had predictions – a 6711 in titanium perhaps, or a return to a two-handed dial? But, of course, nobody actually knew what was coming. No matter the claims in forums or social media, the majority of guesses were exactly that, with only a select few prophesying something akin to what was revealed last week: the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5811/1G.

Objectively speaking, only making small refinements to a watch whose predecessor was one of the most desirable watches in the world, is completely logical. It is a move right out of the Rolex playbook. The new Nautilus 5811/1G will look pretty much identical to the 5711/1A to the untrained eye, and even those who have got a full foot in the waters of watch enthusiasm would be hard-pressed to distinguish the pair at a glance.

What is actually new?

The most immediate difference is the transition to white gold for both the case and bracelet. This is the first Nautilus in decades to feature both a case and bracelet in white gold, the last model to do so being the 3711G that was released a few years prior to the 5711 for the 30th anniversary of the Nautilus in 2006. The case itself has seen some subtle changes as well, becoming 1mm larger at 41mm, 0.1mm thinner at 8.2mm thick, and, interestingly, reverting to the two-part monobloc case structure rather than the three-piece case found on the 5711. This makes the lives of Patek watchmakers that much harder – the movement is no longer accessible from the caseback side so everything needs to be loaded or engaged with from the front.

Being in white gold, the dial has also enjoyed a subtle switch-up. Like the Aquanaut 5168G, the 5811/1G dial now has a gradient effect to its blue shade – creating a through line between Patek’s sporty and precious models.

One of the most notable changes found on the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5811/1G is the new folding clasp found on the white-gold bracelet. Among the calls for upgrades, one of the most common requests was a clasp that provided greater adjustment for the wearer. We have seen various brands at all price and prestige tiers begin to introduce micro-adjustment clasps into their watch bracelets, so it was about time Patek joined the party. Within the butterfly clasp, each end is outfitted with a new lockable adjustment system that allows the bracelet to be finely sized on each side of the butterfly folding clasp.

A preservation of the past – looking backwards versus forwards

Nautilus 5811/1G

The majority of the changes to the watch are indicative of a preservation of its collector status and suggest that the watch is not for newcomers to the brand. A return to the Monobloc case is only something religious collectors would appreciate, and makes servicing the watch that much harder. Aside from the new lockable adjustment clasp, nothing about the watch has really been modernised. The diameter enlargement is, if anything, a nod to the original “jumbo” size of the Nautilus. The movement, aside from a design change to how the crown and stem is removed for casing purposes, remains the same as what was found in the 5711 with a relatively sub-par 45 hours of power reserve. Nothing about the watch speaks to the future of watchmaking. It is all about the preservation of prestige, which, again, is not necessarily bad, but it is not that exciting either.

Why the apparent let-down is our fault

Nautilus 5811/1G

With all the hype that surrounds the reference, the rumour mill went wild with speculation. A widely circulated rumor was the idea Patek would release a 6711 in titanium. Had they done a Nautilus in titanium, it would have signalled that Patek Philippe was trying to appeal to modern sensibilities and looking to evolve with the times. But, such a notion is, to an extent, the antithesis of their mission – so we probably should have shot down such thoughts from the get-go. Whereas Audemars Piguet is open to experimentation and engaging with popular culture today as shown by realising the Royal Oak in various colours and materials as well as integrating pop culture figure like Black Panther into the collection, Patek Philippe consider themselves above such playfulness.

Nautilus 5811/1G

Perhaps disappointment is not a widespread sentiment regarding the 5811/1G within the community, as most do not take issue with the watch. But for those, like myself, who held out hope Patek would modernise the Nautilus, whether externally or internally, it just did not live up to what we imagined. We often see novelties burdened by hype and expectation, reality not meeting our imagination or expectation. And herein lies the fault of our own. Even though we know how strict Patek Philippe tend to be with their novelties, and had no reason to have such expectations, we ignored the feasibility of what we may have hoped for.

Regardless, it was probably the right move

Nautilus 5811/1G

Ultimately, the strategy seen by Patek Philippe with their latest debuts only reaffirms the fact that asset-conscious collectors can always feel safe and protected in their ownership of Patek Philippe watches. The 5811/1G, while some felt it was introduced too soon after a prolonged farewell tour for the 5711, upholds Stern’s statement that they will not make a Nautilus, at least in a time and date only configuration, in stainless steel. That it truly is retired. The move to white gold not only protects the integrity of Stern’s statements and the value of the 5711 on the secondary market, but it also is indicative of Patek strategically looking to capitalise on the Nautilus-mania in a way that protects the brand. Moving upmarket with precious metal, now Patek Philippe stands to bring in more money. If people are willing to pay insane prices on the secondary market, why not capture that money at retail than lose it to flippers and grey dealers.

Whether or not steel makes a return for the 50th anniversary remains to be seen, but I am thinking if it is steel it will be very limited and more likely, in my opinion, the 50th anniversary model will be in platinum.

A new hope – The Nautilus may be a time capsule, but other collections look to the future

It is interesting how the Nautilus is becoming more of a time capsule for the brand, while all other collections are modernising in some way.  Sure, Thierry Stern has expressed his desires to reduce the number of steel offerings in the Patek Philippe catalogue. But, seeing other collections debut in steel, like the Flyback Chronograph World Timer, illuminates a rather admirable path Patek is looking to take.

By introducing their complications in steel, the watches they are proud of most, it begins to divert attention to such pieces. Incoming collectors will always want to chase a Nautilus or Aquanaut at retail, but by giving their more classic collections youthful designs, Patek will be able to entice the next generation towards watches that are not within the sports segment. This has been a huge challenge for watch brands these days, the dominant category being sports watches in steel. But, if Patek Philippe can restore the days where dressier or more casual non-sport pieces are equally competitive offerings, well, all power to them.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5811/1G pricing and availability:

Nautilus 5811/1G

The Patek Philippe Nautilus 5811/1G is available now for inquiries. Price: $69,790 USD

Brand Patek Philippe
Model Nautilus ref. 5811/1G
Case Dimensions 41mm x 8.2mm
Case Material White Gold
Water Resistance 120m (screw-down crown)
Dial Gradient blue
Crystal(s) Sapphire crystals front and back
Strap White gold. Patented fold-over clasp with lockable adjustment system.
Movement In-house calibre 26‑330 S C
Power Reserve 45 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Now (although good luck)
Price $69,790 USD