On October 3, 2016, Patek Philippe launched two hotly anticipated limited-edition watches in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of its patek philippe nautilus replica line: a chronograph in white gold (Reference 5976/1G) and a time-and-date model in platinum (Reference 5711/1P).
In departure from prior practices, there was no lavish launch event: British GQ’s watch and jewelry supplement published an exclusive photo feature on the 5976G the day prior to the full-scale launch, and extensive online coverage of both patek philippe nautilus 5712r-001 18k rose gold watches followed the next day pursuant to the press release being disseminated.
Reaction from the watch community was immediate – and scathing. Yet barely a few weeks later, opinions were much more positive. By early December even many early critics declared themselves enthusiastic converts and eager buyers.
What happened, what are these watches really like when seen in person, and what can we learn from all of this?
How events unfolded
More than one of my Nautilus-loving friends spent a decent amount of the late summer and early autumn speculating on the potential form of the upcoming anniversary watch or patek philippe nautilus annual calendar watches.
And while they had hoped for invitations to a Nautilus anniversary launch event, none materialized for one simple reason: to some extent in recognition of current industry conditions, Patek Philippe had decided on a more virtual strategy for introducing its two new watches, among other things depending heavily on a set of photographs taken by noted commercial photographer Jean-Paul Cattin to provide the visuals for the launch.
I’ve visited Cattin’s website several times now and have been impressed on each occasion with the way that he has brought a variety of Swiss-made luxury products to life.
As an amateur photographer, I’ve also noted that in some campaigns he utilizes a bright and fairly uniformly lit style that is dramatic, but can make objects appear quite different from how they would look in natural light.
In the case of the Nautilus anniversary patek philippe nautilus chronograph watches, several of the launch images were brightly lit in ways that accentuated the watches’ most provocative features: applied diamond hour markers and what rapidly became known online as “tombstone” inscriptions on the dials that designate the 1976 origin of the Nautilus, the fortieth anniversary, and 2016 issue date of the pieces.
There was also some initial confusion about the size of Reference 5976: in actuality the diagonal distance across the bezel is 44 mm, but that dimension was incorrectly reported in many accounts to be 49.25 mm (originating with the GQ post), which is the total distance across the case including the nautically themed flanges.
Neither of these sizes is tiny, but envisioning the larger diameter led to visions of a truly gargantuan watch.
The anniversary watches in hand and on the wrist
Like everyone else, I had the opportunity to view the initial press photos and to read the initial reactions online.
Happily, I also had the opportunity in early November 2016 at Patek Philippe’s Geneva salon to handle both the 5711P and 5976G and to see one “in the wild” on the wrist of a good friend who took delivery of a 5711 during our visit.
I subsequently saw a second example of the same fake patek philippe nautilus chronograph watch worn by another watch pal.