When one thinks tropical dials, the usual suspects are 1680 Sub, 2998 Speedmaster, or maybe even an 1163 GMT if you’re a bit alternative. 3800 Nautilus is not even in consideration, the most studied reader of John Reardon’s Collectability will struggle to readily imagine just what that might look like. At a glance, one may mistake this Nautilus for a factory navy dial. Not so, the lovely green/aqua tones this dial presents come from what was originally a pure black dial (backed by extract of archive) and decades of sun in Ibiza.
The 3800 was released in the early 1980s as a part of a larger expansion in the Nautilus line, marginally downsizing the 3700 to 37.5mm. All hallmarks such as the integrated bracelet, porthole bezel, and slim case proportions remained. This is still the tritium-hand generation of Nautilus, perhaps its most charming anachronism. It features a caliber 330SC with 30 jewels and lever escapement adjusted to 5 positions. Their success speaks for itself: the 3800 retained all the charm of the 3700 while offering a more discreet presence, something many appreciate today.
For all the cliches and, frankly, fucking absurdity that surrounds it, the 3700/3800 Nautilus is beautiful to those with an eye for a a certain aesthetic . . .but this one more than most. Thanks to the endless series of ‘supposed’ last-of-the-5711s, we now know what a green dial Nautilus looks like (Patek are acting a bit like the Rolling Stones in older years, touring well but never quite able to say enough is enough). But prior to last year, this watch would’ve been damn close to a piece-unique proposition given its immense patina. According to the seller, this was the result of approximately 21 years in Spanish sunlight, achieving a true ocean green from pure blackness. Moreover, it’s even a sigma dial with white gold indices. I can’t think of many 3800 as special (or indeed a, relative, value) as this.
That spectacular dial is the star of the condition party here. Otherwise, it should be noted that its handset was replaced during a Patek service in 2019. The watch was given a full service but the case, bezel, and bracelet all still present full proportions with light even surface wear. It comes with an extract of archive, AD receipts, and service receipts from a well-regarded Dutch retailer.
Find this tropical 3800 here from Watchworks Haarlem 79500 EUR.