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Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 3800/1J

You can’t have a meaningful conversation about horological icons without discussing the Patek Philippe Nautilus. First introduced in 1976 and created by legendary watch designer Gérald Genta, the Nautilus currently commands a level of hype that is seldom seen in this industry, and has become one of Patek Philippe’s most famous and celebrated designs of all time.

In this episode of our series What is on my Wrist, Craft + Tailored’s CEO Cameron Barr dives head first into the glory of a Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 3800J, and explains why this reduced-size version of the brand’s legendary sports watch is quickly becoming a favorite among today’s collectors. 

The original Nautilus that was launched in 1976 was the full-size “Jumbo” reference 3700, which featured a 42mm case and introduced Genta’s iconic porthole-inspired design to the world. While the inaugural model certainly embodied his idea for a bold and refined sports watch, it was also a bit too large for some people’s preferences at the time – leading Patek Philippe to introduce the reference 3800 several years later in 1981. Featuring a 37.5mm case, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 offered the same core design as the standard full-size model but presented in a slightly more compact package.

To match its smaller case and help maintain its refined proportions, the reference 3800 was fitted with a bracelet that featured a more significant taper towards the clasp. Additionally, one of the most interesting things about the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 is that while the larger flagship model was powered by a movement based on a design by Jaeger-LeCoultre, the smaller reference 3800 received Patek Philippe’s own in-house Caliber 335 SC, which gave the ref. 3800 the added utility of a centrally-mounted running seconds hand.

In addition to the standard stainless steel model and even a two-tone version, Patek Philippe also produced the Nautilus ref. 3800 in solid 18k yellow gold as the reference 3800/1J (often written simply as 3800J). As you would expect, significantly fewer solid gold examples were produced compared to their stainless steel counterparts, making the solid gold Nautilus 3800J all the more rare and special. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats” and watches like this Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800J have exploded in value over the course of the last several years – making them almost just as difficult to obtain as their full-size siblings.

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