Christie’s Marking 40 Years of Patek Philippe’s Nautilus

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Christie’s Marking 40 Years of Patek Philippe’s Nautilus

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No one raises an eyebrow today at a luxury watch made of — gasp! — stainless steel. But in 1976, when Patek Philippe introduced the Nautilus 3700/1, it was a different story.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of this game-changer, Christie’s (celebrating its own 250th anniversary) is dividing 40 Nautilus models among four auctions this fall in four locations: Dubai, held Oct. 19; Geneva, Nov. 14; Hong Kong, Nov. 28 and New York, Dec. 4. In Dubai, an 18-karat gold model from 1980 sold for $50,000.

The Nautilus, water-resistant to almost 400 feet, was named in honor of the submersible craft that Jules Verne imagined for Captain Nemo in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” The design, based on a ship’s portal, was reportedly dreamed up in five minutes by the great designer Gérald Genta while he was dining in a restaurant during the 1974 Baselworld watch fair.

Advertising bragged that “one of the world’s costliest watches is made of steel.” The Nautilus also had a 42-millimeter (1.65-inch) case that today would be considered normal but then was dubbed “jumbo.”

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