This timepiece is without a doubt the most important Nautilus to come to market ever, if not the most important sport watch to ever appear for sale.
The discovery of this stellar watch in 2015 has rewritten the previously accepted scholarship on the "über-rare" platinum version of the Nautilus. Only one other platinum Nautilus is known publically, reference 3700/1P, with diamond-set dial.
The Nautilus is possibly the most recognizable wristwatch made by Patek Philippe. Designed by Gérald Genta and inspired by the shape of a ship's portholes, it was available as of 1976. With its generous proportions, unusual case design striking the perfect balance between sporting, elegant and understated, and the very robust construction, the first foray of Patek Philippe into the world of sports watches quickly became a worldwide commercial success, and marked the beginning of the Nautilus legend.
The first incarnation of this landmark model is the legendary reference 3700. Scholars agree that normal production included versions in steel, steel and gold, yellow gold and a very limited production in white gold - with or without diamonds. In May 2013, Christie's sold the previously unknown reference 3700/1 (case number 552'214) in platinum for the impressive amount of 783'000 CHF. The discovery of that piece made the collectors' community wonder if Patek Philippe had produced a second platinum example, but no one ever dared to dream of a jewelled version of the timepiece: it would have been an impossible wish.
Luckily, in this case reality surpasses fiction: the second platinum Nautilus here for sale is not a standard reference 3700/1, but rather a 3700/031: indeed part of the echelon of jewelled timepieces, the most exclusive and rarified of Patek Philippe's productions. Most likely a special order, it is highly probable that no other watch left Patek Philippe with this same configuration, or even with the same reference. Adding to the overall appeal of the piece, and a testament to the highest standards this watch was manufactured under, the bracelet is made by legendary jeweller Gay Frères, as denoted by the stamping of their trademark on the clasp.
Following the discovery of this timepiece, in-depth research was conducted and it was discovered that, overall, Patek Philippe produced four 3700 watches cased in platinum. Most probably, the cases were all part of a single order commissioned between 1980 and 1981 to Neuchâtel-based case maker Favre-Perret (hallmark 115, inscribed into a hammer as it always is for the Canton of Neuchâtel), the elected case maker for the Nautilus since the inception of the model and until around 1981. Consequently, this order is one of the last batches of Nautilus cases made outside of Patek Philippe manufacture, as the company began production of these cases in their Ateliers Réunis workshop in 1981. It is highly probable that each one of these four watches was a special order, finished on-demand and reserved for extremely special clients, a theory supported by the fact that seven years passed between the case order and the sale of the watch, in this instance. It is of course unknown how the remaining two unknown watches were finished, but it is a reasonable assumption that all platinum 3700 were finished differently according to the different clients' requests.
As incredible as it may sound, the historical importance of the first haute joaillerie platinum 3700 is matched by its condition. Never restored, most probably never polished, and worn a handful of times at most, the proportions and finish of this majestic timepiece shine in all their glory. The subtle beveling of the lugs, so often lost with the first polishing, is crisp and defined; the satin finish is untouched; the case back without the smallest mark. The watch presents only extremely minor surface markings noticeable on the polished details of bezel and bracelet after careful examination.
If historical importance and condition are not enough, even the most spoiled collector will be rendered speechless by the presence not only of the original Certificate d'Origine and box, but also of the original invoice issued by the Salon Patek Philippe in Geneve on 24 August 1988.