Tropical Sigma Dial 3700 Patek Philippe Nautilus
This 3700’s dial is the only I’ve ever seen which is outrageous enough to make up for the fact that its case has ears. Now, far be it from me to criticize Genta’s pen and what today is an institution. But broadly speaking, I find every watch enthusiast is either a Nautilus or a Royal Oak person, never both. If you like the industrial, hard faceted lines of a Royal Oak, you probably don’t aspire to the graceful, soft, almost femininely slender case of a Nautilus. There are 222 people also, but they’re the antisocial ones off in the corner. I’m half Royal Oak half 222, and therefore haven’t really personally aspired to a Nautilus. That is, until a few months ago when Jacek of Tropical Watch posted an insane tropical 3700 that sold immediately. I was too slow. But today, the market was kind to me, and I have learned from my err. This has to be the wildest 3700 dial you’ll see for a minute.
Despite being a Royal Oak person, there are a few things about the original Nautilus Jumbo (3700 is 40mm as opposed to the midsized ref. 3800’s 37) that I wish to speak of from my time handling them. First, the thinness. It does wear closer and slighter than a 5402 and that’s not easily photographed. Second, that bracelet. It’s one of the most comfortable watches you’ll wear. But just to keep things balanced, I do also have to point out that the bezel and crystal shape has always looked to me as if it hasn’t finished rendering. Genta somehow managed to find the perfect balance of faceted and circular that still looks incomplete to me, but to many that is its unique charm. However, with this dial, I don’t think I’d even notice.
When an early Nautilus dial goes tropical, the effect is not like a Rolex or Omega. These Stern dials are ribbed (each slot was carved by hand) and as such that upper surface often lightens much more than the lower. Not only that, but the dial is not lacquered and so the effect is actually taking place in the paint on metal, which creates a rougher texture than even smooth brown in, say a 1665, for instance. This particular dial is signed with sigmas, meaning white gold applied indices. And you get the added benefit of tritium, almost dark enough to match the dial. It does start to get a little insane when you think deeply about spending such a significant sum on a fundamentally flawed object. But that flaw could equally be said to be art, it’s a matter of perspective and opinion. That said, I still think people who dislike tropical dials are fundamentally strange humans. They’re probably the ones that like the ears.
Overall, this is a cohesively aged example. The case is worn, lightly polished, not perfect just in strong used condition with a little touch up. The dial is the star, and where most of the value of this example resides. There really aren’t many like this, and often if you see something this tropical the tritium is starting to fall out. It comes as watch only, no goodies, from a well-regarded California retailer.