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Patek Philippe. An exceptionally rare and fine stainless steel automatic wristwatch with date and early-type bracelet, made for the Sultanate of Oman
Patek Philippe. An exceptionally rare and fine stainless steel automatic wristwatch with date and early-type bracelet, made for the Sultanate of Oman
Patek Philippe. An exceptionally rare and fine stainless steel automatic wristwatch with date and early-type bracelet, made for the Sultanate of Oman
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Patek Philippe. An exceptionally rare and fine stainless steel automatic wristwatch with date and early-type bracelet, made for the Sultanate of Oman
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On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT wil… Read more PATEK PHILIPPEThe first time at auction - The third known steel Nautilus 3700/1 for the Sultan of OmanThe Property of a Private European Collector
Patek Philippe. An exceptionally rare and fine stainless steel automatic wristwatch with date and early-type bracelet, made for the Sultanate of Oman

SIGNED PATEK PHILIPPE, GENÈVE, NAUTILUS 'KHANJAR' MODEL, REF. 3700/1, MOVEMENT NO. 1'304'895, CASE NO. 536'186, MANUFACTURED IN 1978

Details
Patek Philippe. An exceptionally rare and fine stainless steel automatic wristwatch with date and early-type bracelet, made for the Sultanate of Oman
Signed Patek Philippe, Genève, Nautilus 'Khanjar' model, Ref. 3700/1, movement no. 1'304'895, case no. 536'186, manufactured in 1978
Movement: cal. 28-255C stamped with the Geneva seal, automatic, 36 jewels, signed
Dial: national emblem of the Sultanate of Oman, signed
Case: two-part case secured by four screws in the band, underside of bezel numbered 186, 42 mm. diam., signed
With: 16 mm. stainless steel Patek Philippe Nautilus bracelet with deployant clasp, overall length of bracelet approx. 150 mm., Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with black ribbed dial, luminous white gold indexes and steel bracelet in 1978 and its subsequent sale on 31 July 1978
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Lot Essay

Christie’s is thrilled to present for the first time at auction, this hitherto unknown and entirely fresh to the market, steel reference 3700/1 with Oman ‘Khanjar’ dial. Dating from 1978, it is an early example from only the second year of Nautilus production, exhibiting some rare features exclusively found on such pieces.

This highly important new discovery brings the total to only three confirmed examples of the Nautilus 3700/1 in stainless steel made to special order for the Royal household of the Sultanate of Oman. Among the most desired and collectible of all Nautilus models, it is distinguished by the national emblem of Oman, the Khanjar dagger in a sheath superimposed upon two crossed swords, to the lower half of the dial.

Until the appearance of the present watch, only two examples in stainless steel had ever reached the secondary open market:

- the first bearing case no. 536’201 and movement no. 1’304’954 was sold by Christie’s, Geneva, on 14 May 2012, lot 315
- the second with the immediately preceding case number of 536’200 and movement number of only two digits difference, 1’304’952, was sold by Christie’s, Dubai, on 19 October 2016, lot 137.

The present watch with movement no. 1'304'895 and case no. 536'186 is therefore the earliest example so far discovered.

It is most significant that all three of these exceptional Nautilus watches not only have serial numbers within close proximity of each other, but were all sold on the very same day – 31 July 1978. This shows clearly that they were all part of a specially designated order produced for His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said.

During the 1970s, there were no official watch agents in Oman and so almost all the watches made by Patek Philippe and various other brands with “Khanjar” dials were supplied through the ultra-high-end London retailer, Asprey of New Bond Street, and occasionally through their Geneva branch.

A man of undeniably exquisite taste and also a watch enthusiast, His Late Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said owned and offered as gifts innumerable timepieces. Some of these watches have made modern horological history as symbols of the ultimate level of watch collecting. His Majesty sometimes offered gifts for outstanding service to loyal servants, members of the administration and citizens. Depending on the level and importance of the occasion, the gift of watches varied from simple timepieces to fine Patek Philippe watches.

A must-have for both the Nautilus collector and the collector of Omani designated watches, the discovery of this watch presents the chance to own one of the most exclusive variations of the truly landmark reference 3700/1. To paraphrase Patek Philippe’s own words when describing the Nautilus model itself, it is ‘possibly the most exclusive steel watch you can own’.

Detailed analysis of the present watch has identified the following technical details associated with the early years of Nautilus production:

The Dial
Made by Stern Frères, the present dial is numbered on the reverse with the Stern Frères code '93Y 201 TT', the '93' being Stern's client code for Patek Philippe. It is well known that the very earliest Nautilus dials from 1976 (designated by Mstanga as ‘type 1’) feature baton minute divisions. Less well known is the ‘type 1B’ dial which are the very first dials ever to bear the familiar dot minute indexes yet still retaining the ‘type 1’ signature style.

The dial of the present watch is one of these elusive type 1B dials, made only for a very short time before the ‘type 2’ was introduced.

Beautifully preserved and beginning to display the very first signs of tropicalization when viewed under magnification, the luminous material of the indexes and hands is uniformly and pleasingly aged.

The Case
The case patent design of the original Nautilus reference 3700/1 was registered on 23 April 1976, made for Patek Philippe by Favre-Perret SA, Le Crêt du Locle, from 1976 until 1981 when production was transferred to Patek’s own Ateliers Réunis workshops. It comprises two parts, the main body and the bezel, at each side is an “ear” which couples with a corresponding flange, the two parts are secured by lateral screws. A rubber seal sits between the bezel and case body and is thus compressed when subject to water pressure forming a perfect watertight seal.

The Movement Caliber 28-255 C
Generally agreed to be one of the greatest watch calibers, it was based on the original Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 920 of 1967 and is regarded as one of the most beautiful and refined automatic movements ever produced. Crucially it is also very thin at only 3.15 mm., therefore highly appropriate for the slim and elegant Nautilus. The development of the caliber 920 was partly jointly financed by Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. Audemars Piguet fitted their version, now the revered caliber 2120, into the Royal Oak, a further shared familial link with the Nautilus. Vacheron Constantin’s version became their caliber 1120.

The caliber 28-255 C is 12.5 lignes and has 36 jewels and 19,800 vibrations. It is supplied with the shock-protected free-sprung Gyromax balance with eight rotatable weights allowing rate adjustment without the need for a conventional regulator index. The winding rotor is formed from a beryllium ring with 21K gold rim, this clever design with four additional ruby rollers to support the rotor around its periphery allows the thinness of the movement to remain uncompromised.

The Bracelet
The wider 16 mm. bracelet, correct for the period, is noteworthy because it is one of the rarely seen very early examples which do not feature the word ‘Nautilus’ engraved on the clasp.

For a more detailed account of the reference 3700 and the Nautilus Model, see A Study of the Patek Philippe ref. 3700 Nautilus by Mstanga, and Blue Book 4 by Eric Tortella, 2020 edition, pp. 472 to 531.

His Late Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said
The longest-serving leader in the Middle East and Arab world until his passing on the 10 January 2020, Sultan Qaboos was born on 18 November 1940 in Salalah, Dhofar, the only son of Sultan Said bin Taimur and Princess Mazoon al-Mashani. His education took place in Salalah, India, where he studied under Dhayal Sharma, the former President of India, and eventually in England. At the age of 20, he began his military training and joined the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, eventually serving in Germany for one year in the Scottish Rifles.

His Majesty ascended to the throne on 23rd July 1970. An absolute monarch, he proved himself a successful ruler, using the revenues obtained from oil to modernize his country. With his guidance, his country and subjects enjoyed countless advances, both social and technological. Oman has strengthened international relations, both in the Middle Eastern area, and on a more global scale.

Newspapers are now permitted and schools, highways, hotels and shopping centres have been built. A substantial amount of money is spent on healthcare and education. Recently, the Sultan had also permitted parliamentary elections, during which women were allowed to vote and be elected. The parliament enjoys legislative powers.The foreign policy of his Majesty was formal neutrality. Oman has good relationships with Iran as well as Britain and USA. As a result, His Majesty Qaboos often acted as intermediary between Iran and USA. Beyond his enthusiasm for watches, the Sultan's interests also included music. He was an avid fan of classical music, with a particular penchant for the pipe organ. The Omani orchestra is one of the most appreciated in Middle East.

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