Released in 1976 as Patek Philippe's response to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, an avant-garde luxury stainless steel sports watch borne from AP's necessity to survive the Quartz Crisis, the Nautilus was Patek Philippe's attempt to go head to head with AP's increasingly popular sports watch. Designed by Gerald Genta, the same man that had created the Royal Oak, the Nautilus was inspired by a porthole and thus features a rounded-over octagonal bezel and hinge-like protrusions on either side of its case. Featuring its signature horizontally embossed dial and iconic integrated bracelet, the Nautilus has become the most sought-after watch in the market today as collectors clamor over examples thanks to its iconic design, extreme exclusivity, and impeccable craftsmanship.
Long established as one of the most iconic watches of all time, it is often forgotten that the Patek Philippe Nautilus did not receive a positive reaction upon its release on account of its large 42mm case. Knowing the size was turning away most potential customers, Patek Philippe decided to debut a smaller variant with a 37.5mm case - the ref. 3800/A that we have here. Released five years after the original Nautilus in 1981, the ref. 3800 allowed Patek's customers to try the Nautilus out, see it in the wild, and grow accustomed to its somewhat alien design at the time. Upon its success of the ref. 3800/A, the Nautilus began to pick up sales across its entire collection as collectors began to appreciate the Nautilus' design in the way they had started to appreciate the Royal Oak's a few years prior. While the original Nautilus ref. 3700 is indeed where the collection began, the ref. 3800/A can lay claim as the collection's savior as there was no guarantee that Patek's higher-ups would keep the marginally performing collection around should the tides not have turned around as they did. However you view it, the Nautilus collection would be far removed from what it is today if it wasn't for this now iconic variant.
Loupe This Scorecard
Vetted & Approved
Est. value range
$30,000 – $40,000
The overall condition of the watch is excellent. Dial exhibits no signs of damage. The tritium luminous has a matching orangey patina. Dial and case both have sharp edges. There are light surface abrasions throughout, which are consistent with moderate to light wear. Bracelet is sized for a 6.75 inch wrist. Additional links are easily sourceable, in case there is a need to lengthen the band.
I have always been a massive fan of the reference 3800 Nautilus. The size and style are extremely sophisticated. I've always felt that this size wears better than it's big brother, the 3700. This particular example has an incredible blue dial, with matching orange patina.