Patek Philippe graces the sporty Nau­tilus with its first grand com­pli­ca­tion

Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - Contents - Text Nicolette Wong

GRAND CHAM­PION A look at Patek Philippe’s thinnest per­pet­ual cal­en­dar watch

When it was first cre­ated at the height of the quartz cri­sis in 1976, the Patek Philippe Nau­tilus was one of the two lux­ury steel sports watches that would come to re­de­fine the mod­ern watch­mak­ing world. Where even high-end watches were once seen as ev­ery­day tools do­ing their best to ap­prox­i­mate the right time (an en­deav­our then made ob­so­lete by quartz watches and now by smart­phones), lux­ury watch­mak­ing to­day is an in­dus­try driven largely by emo­tion, crafts­man­ship, and heritage—with a healthy dose of me­chan­i­cal in­no­va­tion. The newest it­er­a­tion of the Nau­tilus is an ex­cel­lent ex­em­plar of that set of re­quire­ments—not only is the Ref 5740/1G-001 the first grand com­pli­ca­tion in the Nau­tilus line, it is also Patek Philippe’s thinnest per­pet­ual cal­en­dar watch, pe­riod.

The Nau­tilus 5740, de­spite be­ing a new re­lease for 2018, is ac­tu­ally the re­sult of decades of Patek Philippe’s work in per­fect­ing the art and craft of me­chan­i­cal watches. As men­tioned be­fore, the Nau­tilus it­self was one of the two watches that cre­ated the cat­e­gory of lux­ury sports watches. It, along with the Aude­mars Piguet Royal Oak, was cre­ated by the leg­endary watch de­signer Gérald Genta. As the story goes, Genta ap­par­ently de­signed the Nau­tilus in a few min­utes, sit­ting at a restau­rant dur­ing the Basel­world fair. The design was based on the rounded squar­ish shape of a port­hole on a transat­lantic liner—hence the name Nau­tilus. The ship had win­dows with large hinges on the sides to make them wa­ter­tight, and that same hinge design was trans­lated to the wide bezel and “ears” on the Nau­tilus case. And while the Nau­tilus has un­der­gone some mi­nor tweaks to its design over the years, with vari­a­tions on the dial, size, and movement, its case shape has gen­er­ally remained stead­fast.

What also re­mains from the orig­i­nal is the slim pro­file of the watch. The orig­i­nal 3700/1 in­tro­duced in 1976 was only 7.6mm thick. The new Nau­tilus Ref 5740, even with its per­pet­ual cal­en­dar com­pli­ca­tion, is only 8.42mm thick. This is all thanks to the in­cred­i­ble movement that is in­side the watch. The orig­i­nal 3700/1 used the cal­i­bre 28-255C, which was an ul­tra-slim Jaeger-lecoul­tre cal­i­bre JLC 920 that was fin­ished in-house by Patek Philippe. (The JLC 920 also hap­pens to be the same movement found in the orig­i­nal Royal Oak.) The new Nau­tilus Ref 5740, how­ever, plays host to the fa­mous ul­tra-slim Patek Philippe in-house self-wind­ing cal­i­bre 240Q, which de­buted in Ref 3940J in 1985 and has been in un­in­ter­rupted pro­duc­tion ever since. The Q in its name stands for quan­tième, mean­ing cal­en­dar in French. Its base movement, the cal­i­bre 240, has a slightly longer his­tory—it was cre­ated in 1977, just one year af­ter the birth of the Nau­tilus it­self, and to­day can be found in nu­mer­ous other Patek Philippe watches, in­clud­ing the Ref 6102, which has sev­eral mod­ules to en­able the func­tion of its nu­mer­ous ce­les­tial

com­pli­ca­tions. The 240Q mea­sures only 3.88mm in thick­ness, and this com­bined with the over­all slim­ness of the Nau­tilus design means that the Nau­tilus Ref 5740 only mea­sures 8.42mm thick, and is the thinnest per­pet­ual cal­en­dar in Patek Philippe’s col­lec­tion.

Func­tion­ally, the sporty Nau­tilus Ref 5740 per­pet­ual cal­en­dar is just as re­fined as its more clas­sic coun­ter­parts in Patek Philippe’s sta­ble of per­pet­ual cal­en­dars—no sur­prise, since the brand has had over 150 years to ce­ment its ex­per­tise. Patek Philippe first started build­ing per­pet­ual cal­en­dar watches in 1864, and was one of the first Swiss brands to do so de­spite the fact that the com­pli­ca­tion was in­vented by English­man Thomas Mudge in 1762. The per­pet­ual cal­en­dar com­pli­ca­tion ac­counts for the dif­fer­ence in the num­ber of days per month, whether a month has 28, 30, or 31 days—or 29 days, in the case of a leap year. The real dif­fi­culty comes about once ev­ery 100 years or so, when a cen­turial year—that is, a year ending in 00—is not a leap year de­spite be­ing di­vis­i­ble by four. By dint of our un­usual cal­en­dar, ev­ery cen­turial year will not be a leap year if it can­not be di­vided per­fectly by 400 with­out any re­main­der. The year 2000, for in­stance, was a leap year be­cause it can be di­vided by 400, but the year 2100 will not be. This is the only type of leap year that the per­pet­ual cal­en­dar can­not ac­count for. Oth­er­wise, as­sum­ing that the watch is kept wound, it will keep per­fect time and date un­til it has to be ad­justed on March 1, 2100. Should you need to ad­just it, how­ever, do­ing so is sim­ple. The cor­rec­tor for day of the week can be found on the left side of the case, along the “ear”; the date on the left side of the top lug, and the month and year cor­rec­tor on the top right. The moon­phase cor­rec­tor can be found on the bottom right, although that should not see much use ei­ther—the Nau­tilus Ref 5740 has a pre­cise moon­phase com­pli­ca­tion that will only de­vi­ate from the ac­tual po­si­tion of the moon by one day ev­ery 122 years.

Aes­thet­i­cally speak­ing, the Ref 5740 keeps to all of the codes of the mod­ern Nau­tilus, in­clud­ing the satin-brushed bezel and pol­ished cham­fer­ing on the bezel, the char­ac­ter­is­tic blue dial with hor­i­zon­tal strip­ing, and the gold-edged lu­mi­nous straight hands and hour mark­ers. There are three sub­di­als, one each at three, six, and nine o’clock. The three o’clock sub­dial indicates the month and whether or not it is a leap year, the six o’clock sub­dial con­tains the moon­phase aper­ture and date in­di­ca­tion, and the nine o’clock sub­dial has a 24-hour in­di­ca­tion, as well as that for the day of the week.

There is one big dif­fer­ence be­tween the orig­i­nal Nau­tilus and its new per­pet­ual cal­en­dar sib­ling—the new Ref 5740 has a white gold case and bracelet to be­fit its new grand com­pli­ca­tion. On top of that, Patek Philippe has in­tro­duced a new pa­tented fold-over clasp, which fea­tures four in­de­pen­dent catches to op­ti­mise us­age and pre­vent un­in­ten­tional re­leases of the clasp.

Given the pop­u­lar­ity of the Nau­tilus col­lec­tion, which has fa­mously long wait­ing lists, we’re cer­tain that this new sib­ling will be wel­comed into the col­lec­tor fold in no time.

De­spite containing a heavy­weight com­pli­ca­tion like the per­pet­ual cal­en­dar, the Nau­tilus Ref 5740 re­mains ul­tra-slim and com­fort­able to wear. Its new four-catch clasp also en­sures the watch stays se­curely on your wrist

When it was first launched dur­ing the quartz cri­sis, the Patek Philippe Nau­tilus was de­lib­er­ately priced and mar­keted as a lux­ury item, whose crafts­man­ship el­e­vated it above the pre­cise but pedes­trian quartz watches

The Nau­tilus col­lec­tion be­gan life as an el­e­gant steel sports watch. The Ref 5740 adds even more so­phis­ti­ca­tion with its per­pet­ual cal­en­dar com­pli­ca­tion and case in white gold

The ul­tra-thin cal­i­bre 240Q is Patek Philippe’s work­horse per­pet­ual cal­en­dar movement, and is what al­lows the Ref 5740 to main­tain its slim pro­file

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