Patek Philippe’s Nautilus bracelet sports watch is about as hot as a lunchtime barbecue in the middle of the Sahara, with waiting lists stretching years into a distant future. And now the brand has launched a perpetual calendar version (from £91,150).
Designed for Patek by Gérald Genta and launched in 1976 as a time-and-date-only watch, the original model enjoyed considerable popularity, but by the turn of the century demand had slowed. However, such has been its return to fashion in the past couple of years that, almost like a brand within a brand, it has grown from its original time and date execution, and expanded to include travel time, chronograph and annual calendar models. Now, with the appearance of one of the most celebrated of grand complications in the distinctive Nautilus case, some sort of horological Rubicon has been crossed. At Patek it is all the more significant because in 1925 Patek Philippe became the first watchmaker to place this precious mechanism on the wrist; now, 93 years later, it has placed it in a sports watch.
The self-winding calibre 240Q was chosen for its thinness, but maintaining the purity of the original design was more problematic. The challenge was to integrate the four correctors for the display; usually between the lugs at 11, 1, 5 and 7 o’clock as the movement dictated, but which the integrated Nautilus bracelet made impossible. The problem was solved by sinking the external part of the correctors almost imperceptibly into the case wall and adding a linkage system inside the case wall: when the setting pin is applied, it activates a small rod that pushes a hammer to make the correction. It is an elegant solution worthy of an elegant watch, which at 8.42mm is just 0.12mm thicker than the time and date version and the thinnest perpetual calendar the brand offers.