THE JOYERIA RICCIARDI NAUTILUS
When a fresh to market mint and complete example of a watch comes to auction for the first time, collectors take note. When a Nautilus meets these stringent requirements, the market becomes truly excited and Christie’s is honored to offer this pristine reference 3700/1A to celebrate the anniversary of this landmark reference.
The presently offered Nautilus is not only one of the most complete examples of an early 3700/1A to surface, it is also arguably one of the most mint examples to surface in recent years. Fully complete from the 1970s with its original cork box, product literature, and Certificate of Origin from Patek Philippe, this watch offers the collector the chance to own a superlative example of this important reference. Thanks to the protection offered by the case and its gaskets, this dial is beautifully preserved in its original state, featuring the Swiss double APRIOR signature, and the original tritium lume is evenly aged to a warm autumn hue.
Imagine walking into Joyeria Ricciardi in Buenos Aires, Argentina in early 1981 and buying a steel Nautilus from the celebrated South American jeweler. You receive the cork box, the retailer fills out and stamps the certificate, and you become the new owner of a beautiful new Nautilus. This 3700/1A remains exactly as it was presented to the original buyer at that time with all of its accessories. Due to this watches elevated condition relative to its peers, this watch has been dubbed the ‘Ricciardi Nautilus’ and will hopefully be treasured and enjoyed for many more years. Notably, the watch features the engraved inventory numbers used by Riccardi on the outside of the case band.
In a world in which large steel sports watches have become commonplace, it’s hard to comprehend how groundbreaking the Nautilus 3700/1 was when it launched in the 1976.
Now considered iconic and an integral part of Patek Philippe’s identity, at the time it was a huge risk for the company to produce a watch so different from anything it had done before. An oversized and expensive steel mechanical automatic in a world in which ultra-thin gold-bracelet quartz watches were the envy of the disco generation, the Nautilus made a statement that was heard around the world. Notably, they were so unusual that it took years after production until one found an owner.
For an illustration and description of a reference 3700/1 in stainless steel see Patek Philippe Museum - Patek Philippe - Volume II, p. 252, Inv. P-1557.
Special thanks to Italian watch enthusiast and historian “mstanga” for his assistance and invaluable research text, A Study of the Patek Philippe Ref. 3700 “Nautilus”.