The wonderful tropical dial of the present watch has aged so uniformly that it now has a most beautiful and subtle “cosmic” appearance. Furthermore, it features the Gübelin signature, of which only a total of five examples are known. This extraordinarily fortuitous combination elevates it to a much higher level, as such it could be considered to be a unique version of the iconic ref. 3700/1 “Jumbo” and a must-have for the serious Nautilus collector. The outstanding condition of the present lot is very rare to find in public auction.
Gübelin was founded in 1854 and has always been a family enterprise. Located in Lucerne, Switzerland, the renowned company has designed and retailed superior quality watches and clocks ever since. Today, Gübelin has branches throughout Europe.
The Dials of Nautilus reference 3700/1
Created by Stern Frères, the distinctive striped dials of the Nautilus were entirely hand-made – each line recess is engraved separately. To achieve the aptly named “gray depth of ocean” colour specified by Patek Philippe the dials were painted alternately black and blue several times and then covered with a protective “Zapon” varnish. Early examples often display a degradation of the varnish so that depending on how a watch has been stored over the years, an individual dial may have tropicalized more towards either blue, gray, chestnut or green.
The indexes and hands are made of gold (sometimes erroneously called “steel” on some Extracts from the archives) and filled with luminescent material. The Patek Philippe signature and the outer minute divisions were painted. The very first watches of reference 3700/1 starting in 1976 and up until approximately movement number 1303999 had a minute track with lines, not the more familiar dots. Below the 6 o’clock index is the word “Swiss” flanked on each side by the “Aprior” mark of two sigma symbols. The Aprior mark was conferred by the “Association pour la Promotion Industrielle de l’Or” on dials made of solid gold or at least with solid gold indexes.