Who Killed the Nautilus 5711?

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Patek Philippe Nautilus Ad

The Gerald Genta-designed stainless steel blue dial Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 5711 is an icon. A Grail Watch. And now, it’s DOA. Discontinued. Gone. Although rumors about its demise have been circulating for weeks, the news still comes as a shock. Why would one of the world’s best watchmakers, the ranking member of the watch industry’s Holy Trinity, kill its most iconic model on a Friday news dump? (FYI, Robb Report, it’s spelled Nautilus, not Nautlius.) We can only guess what triggered the move . . .

Patek Nautilus 5711True to Patek’s reputation, the Geneva watchmaker is shtum. Even “in the know” watch websites have bupkis. What we do know about the model’s deletion: 26 Nautilus variants ain’t goin’ nowhere. We also know Chrono24.com dealers are suddenly asking $125k for a blue dial stainless steel Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 5711. According to WatchCharts, sales over the past few months – prior to Friday’s announcement – completed in the $60k -$70k range.

Clearly, Patek has made a large number of well-heeled waitlisted customers very, very angry. Swiss watchmakers often don’t seem to like or respect their customers. Even so, killing a model like this isn’t something done lightly or without reason. Here are a few possible explanations from the TTAW crew.

Patek Philippe is replacing the Nautilus Ref 5711

Grail watch again - Patek Philippe Nautilus

Watchmakers often clear the decks right before a big new product announcement to keep friends and family focused on the newcomer(s). No doubt Patek Philippe will announce a new watch model in the upcoming release season. Killing the stainless steel Nautilus Ref 5711 builds a LOT of anticipation for whatever comes next.

That said, Audemars Piguet didn’t remove its most popular stainless steel [Genta-designed] Royal Oak from their range before launching the lead balloon known as the Code 11.59.  Replacing the iconic blue dial Nautilus with . . . whatever . . . is like Porsche removing the silver paint option from the 911 before unveiling an SUV.

Bottom line: the Nautilus replacement theory – mooted by HoDinkee – is pretty weak.

Patek Philippe wants to sell more Nautili

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 - its friends

An alternative theory: the blue dial stainless steel Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 has become too popular. The model’s sucking all the attention away from the aforementioned 26 other models in the Nautilus range. Hurting their sales, in fact. Think of it this way . . .

As long as Patek’s blue dial stainless steel luxury sports watch is out there – even as unobtanium – plenty of potential Nautilus customers would rather wait ten years to buy one than buy another Nautilus, especially a more expensive Nautilus. While they wait, they’re buying something else that isn’t a Nautilus. Probably not even a Patek Philippe.

By removing the blue dial stainless steel Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 from the roster, Nautilus buyers have to either p*ss or get off the pot. As Patek isn’t hurting for sales, killing their grail is a risk-free way to increase sales.

Bottom line: way out there, but plausible.

Patek Philippe doesn’t want to be Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak classic

RF has made the point that Audemars Piguet is the Royal Oak. The rest of their catalogue plays second, third and fourth fiddle. Perhaps Patek is facing the music, starting to see a similar trend in their sales demographics.

There could be a lot of buyers who only aspire to owning a blue dial stainless steel Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 5711; they don’t even think about buying another, yes, better Patek (e.g., a 5730). By removing the 5711, Patek Philippe stops throwing shade over their own existing and future models – like the Oak does over the Code 11.59.

Bottom line: a consideration but not likely a motivation, given all the other Nautili still hoovering-up sales.

Patek Philippe Dealers Revolted

Patek Philippe dealer Hamburg

“Authorized dealers I have spoken to this week appear to be relieved that the 5711 is no more,” Rob Corder writes at watchpro.com.  “They are, frankly, sick of disappointing customers when they cannot secure the watch they want.”

Mr. Corder reveals that “Patek Philippe goes nuts if a flipper manages to buy and sell a watch.” That means PP’s AD’s “have been turned into a police force trying to prevent some sort of illicit trade.”

At the same time, “Even true watch loving customers find themselves in the invidious position of not wanting to risk selling a 5711 for fear of being labeled a flipper.” Which would ban them from from ever buying a Patek Philippe watch from an authorized dealer for the rest of their life. Yes, there is a blacklist.

Bottom line: makes total sense.

What about an actual explanation?

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 - brand owners

It’s hard to believe Patek Philippe can keep a lid on their reasoning about this momentous decision (from waitlisted aspirants, current 5711 owners and the media’s point-of-view). Then again, the secretive Swiss watchmaker is a privately held family firm, answerable only to themselves and their employees.

As for the suggestion that Stern family killed the blue dial stainless steel Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 to enrich collectors who own 5711’s . . . Hahahahaha. No. Whatever Patek’s reasoning, it’s something to do with their long term future, not their avaricious customers or even their glorious past. Watch this space.

11 COMMENTS

  1. The 5711 was never the Nautilus to have compared to the 3700, which is thinner and uses the Gérald Genta designed side screws to access the movement, as opposed to the Rolex Oyster style screw down caseback on the 5711.

    And the Royal Oak and Octo are much better Genta designs.

    I would say a combination of theories 1 and 2 above. Patek is only going to allow a certain percent of sales to be from the Nautilus range, to avoid becoming the “Nautilus” company.

    Given that only a certain percentage of watches will be from the Nautilus range, they damn well are going to be the precious metal and complicated versions, not the steel 5711 that “only” nets Patek its share of a $33,710 MSRP.

    The 5711 has not been cancelled, only the steel version. Gold is still in the lineup.

    • Agreed. As for the 5711, I was trying not to use the whole ref number to make it flow better. But if you want a Nautilus with no complications, you can still get rose gold. Maybe they’re clearing the decks for a platinum 5711.

  2. Another reason. Mr. Stern Junior actively dislikes the Nautilus, and has always had. So, he just killed the old bastard, and let the others slide. After all, why do they come to Patek for a steel watch, sacrebleu!

  3. The comments on Hodinkee are gold. Maybe they’re tired of seeing the boring, plain watch on instagram being stunted next to a steering wheel.

  4. It’s possible they’re doing this to bring it out of retirement, later, to much fanfare. Like Toyota with its Supra.

    Whatever the case, this is why the watch category is so fascinating. So much energy and speculation devoted to something so trivial. “Omg. What’s their plan? They’re so tight lipped. Let’s keep looking for clues about what their plans are!”

    If aliens descended and observed they’d think we all just had too much time on our hands. But this is why it’s all so interesting. Beyond the technical horological stuff, which I don’t understand or care about, the way the watch industry plays this fiddle, and we listen intently, is a case study in human behavior.

  5. We also know Chrono24.com dealers are suddenly asking $125,000 for a blue dial stainless steel Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 5711.

    Clearly Patek has made a large number of well-heeled potential customers very, very angry.

    And made a large number of existing owners (who’d consider selling for a profit) very happy?

    Pardon my ignorance, for I am but an unwashed G-Shock-wearing horological troglodyte… What did these bad boys sell for before they were dropped?

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