Finds Vintage

Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 in Yellow Gold

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The 45 year-old Nautilus has never looked better. Genta, in his Nautilus and Royal Oak designs, defined a half-century of wristwear. It would not be hyperbole to declare the Nautilus in amongst the top three most important designs of the last century. This reference 3800 is a marginally more svelt 3700 at 37.5mm. That proportion feels just right in 2021. I would do well to age even half as gracefully as this masterpiece. It is not often a watch’s desirability only increases with time—a byproduct of forward thinking design. Of those that have attained this honour, the Nautilus may be in the lead for me.

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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 and porthole bezel remained. This is the still the tritium-hand generation of Nautilus, perhaps its most charming anachronism. This aged white-champagne ridge dial is a rarer alternative to the navy and gold you often see paired with a precious metal 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. This signature caught on through other manufactures at the time. Patek wanted to retain the slim proportion and updated 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. Fucking classic would be my descriptors of choice. I aspire to one day wear a yellow gold Nautilus with a T-shirt. If you ask me, moves don’t come more boss. I digress.

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The 3800 offered today is a beautiful example. Its case shows light marks of wear, but no significant flaws. The bracelet and dial are marked on their surfaces, not dented. The dial has faded to a light champagne with very minute sun spots. It may not be a museum’s choice condition, but it’s my exact preferred state. You can wear this watch. It comes from a well-known Instagram collector.

Find this 3800 Nautilus available here from @mh1717 on Instagram by DM for an undisclosed sum.