Finds Vintage

3800/1J Yellow Gold Patek Philippe Nautilus


What ink remains to be spilled on behalf of the 3800 which has not been spilled already? I would suggest that the jar is on its side, hardened, and evaporated. Therefore, my work here is a bit redundant. However, I defy one to find a worn gold-on-gold 3800 this charming and not feel compelled to scrape the bottom of the proverbial bottle. 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. By simple logic, the watch must be exceptional to still be as desirable as it is with all the furor shrouding it. Or collectors simply love a pointless clamor. Probably the latter.


The 3800 was released in the early 1980s as a part of a larger expansion in the Nautilus line. All hallmarks, such as the integrated bracelet,, porthole bezel, and actual gold hallmarks remained. This is still the tritium-hand generation of Nautilus, perhaps its most charming anachronism. This aged gold striated dial is perfectly matched to the case. The indices and hands were produced in 18K to match, a thoughtful detail. Patek also included a small sigma signature at the bottom of the dial to denote precious metal use. Patek wanted to retain the slim proportion and update their movement for the 3800. It features a caliber 335 S C with 29 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. That said, I’m not sure you could level the adjective discreet at the yellow gold offering we see today.


I’ve said this before, but I do aspire to one day wear a yellow gold Nautilus with a T-shirt to some hugely pretentious gala where it would be just on the edge of acceptable. If you ask me, moves don’t come more boss. Apparently though, my whole generation has had the same idea. Hence the asking prices for these have doubled and tripled and then doubled again for good measure. The layman’s enthusiast today is at a loss. This watch is now an investment in the sense of meaningful monetary outlay (not guaranteed return), as so many are becoming. For what it’s worth, this one might just deserve to be.

This example is sporting a mid-level wear. Bezel has some deeper touches and the sides are not perfect. That’s just find by me because the proportions are still there, lines are sharp where it matters. The dial has golden tritium tones, with some deep gold patination visible in the ridges. I love the slightly careless air this one boasts, as it matches the attitude this watch was meant to be worn with. It comes from a well-regarded West Coast US retailer.

Find this 3800 Nautilus here from The Keystone for 90000 USD.

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