With Patek Philippe's Nautilus 5711 watch, the Swiss brand managed to do what every enterprise on earth dreams of: make a product that everyone wanted. The model—a shapely steel watch with a dark-blue dial and simple date function—was so coveted by collectors that the wait time to get one was rumored to be up to 10 years. So what did Patek Philippe do? Increase production of the $33,710 to balloon its profit margins? Create special editions of the piece to sell an even wider variety? No. Instead, the brand is doing the unthinkable and discontinuing the 5711 altogether.
It’s as if McDonald’s decided to stop making the Big Mac, or Jordan decided to never again release the “Chicago” Air Jordan 1s. Grinding production to a halt to increase a watch’s scarcity and value is one thing—and it’s not as if Patek was churning these out in droves in the first place. But taking it off the board entirely is another. (Imagine if you've been patiently waiting for nine years only to come across this crushing news.) As watch trends have grown more casual over the past decade, the 5711 has taken up the mantle as Patek’s flagship model.
That the watch had become so massively popular might actually explain Patek’s decision to discontinue it. While Patek’s CEO Thierry Stern was happy about the model’s tremendous sales, it’s clear the piece was never his favorite, and the spotlight it received appeared to almost irritate him. “We make about 140 different models at Patek Philippe, and the basic Ref. 5711 in steel is just one of them,”he told the NY times in 2019.
“We have many other models that are more complicated and arguably more beautiful.” It’s possible Stern wanted to redirect the attention to those 140 other models. Of course, that’s entirely speculative. This may be only the first step toward introducing a similar, improved-in-the-eyes-of-Patek version of the 5711.
Those still hoping to get their hands on a nautius still have plenty of options to choose from. The watch comes in almost 30 different styles ranging from diamond-set yellow-gold editions to stainless steel models with chronographs. Still, the 5711 was beloved because it is (was??) the Nautilus in its absolute purest form. The watch will be impossible to replace in Patek’s catalog, and prices for the piece on the secondary market, where the watch is already selling for more than double retail price will now only continue to soar. #InvestmentPiece anyone?
Cam Wolf, GQ
(photo by gabe conte)