1980s Ladies Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 4700 In Stainless Steel
This stunning Patek Philippe Nautilus reference 4700 was the first ladies Nautilus to be introduced and produced between 1981 to 2004. This early example is from the 1980s and features its original black horizontally embossed Sigma dial in excellent condition and original black date display. Presented in unpolished condition, this example appears to have been occasionally worn since it was originally purchased as new. The case diameter measures 26m and houses the smaller quartz calibre E19. This timepiece combines understated elegance with modern utility and luxury. It has all of the hallmark design signatures of the original Nautilus. It features its original integrated bracelet in tight condition with light scratches to be expected. We have kept the watch unpolished however this can be polished depending on the preference of new owner. Overall, this is an excellent example of one of the most iconic timepieces of the modern watchmaking era.
Moving onto the Nautilus’ iconic vertically embossed dial, you will notice our ref. 4700 features a signature at the very bottom of its dial at 6 o’clock, reading “σ SWISS σ”. Flanking the word “SWISS” on both sides, the Greek letter Sigma can be found. This signature is used as a means of signifying that gold was used in the dial or hands. A rule created by l’Association pour la Promotion Industrielle de l’Or (PRIOR), Swiss watchmakers used this “Sigma” symbol to emphasise the presence of precious materials in the timepiece’s dial. An important means of delineating between various vintage timepieces, precious metals are far more resistant to corrosion, patina or other forms of discolouration. Thus, “Sigma” dials are very sought after in vintage timepieces. As the original hands and dial furniture (indices, subdials, logos etc.) will not need to be replaced, collectors prefer the creature comforts “Sigma” dials provide.
The Nautilus’ History and Context
Within the world of watchmaking, we have several genuinely iconic timepieces that eclipse all others, with the Patek Philippe Nautilus ranked very highly amongst them. Like most icons, no matter the industry, the history and context behind that icon is instrumental to its development, and the Nautilus is no different. To explore the Nautilus’ heritage, we must go back to 1976. At the time, the Quartz Crisis was peaking, and Audemars Piguet had just released their Royal Oak a few years before in 1972. The world’s first luxury steel sports watch, the Royal Oak was AP’s defensive reaction to the Quartz Crisis. Much in the same vein, the Patek Philippe Nautilus was a means of competing with AP and shielding the company from the onslaught caused by the Quartz Crisis. Designed by the same man as the Royal Oak, Gerald Genta, Patek knew fighting fire with fire was better than sitting by the wayside and allowing AP to dominate the market.
Caused by an influx of cheaper, trendier and more accurate Japanese quartz watches entering the market, the Quartz Crisis of the ’70s and ’80s saw Swiss brands robbed of their ability to compete. With hundreds of brands going defunct, Audemars Piguet knew the same fate was fast approaching them. With their financial woes, AP decided to reach out to famed watch designer Gerald Genta to create a new luxury stainless steel sports watch in 1972. Unlike anything anyone had seen before, Genta’s Royal Oak made the necessary impact on enabling AP to remain solvent. While quartz watches didn’t threaten Patek’s market share to the extent of other brands in 1976, they knew they had to stay on AP’s heels given their traditional competition thanks to their standing as a fellow holy trinity brand. Following four years of unbridled dominance, Patek knew they had to bring AP into check.
Luckily for Patek, Genta had been inspired to draw the Nautilus’ original sketch onto a napkin when he saw a group of Patek executives across from him in a restaurant in Geneva in 1974. With a porthole-style window above them, Genta’s inspiration for the Nautilus came naturally to him, and the Nautilus has mainly remained unchanged ever since. Having sat on the design for two whole years, Patek eventually released the Nautilus ref. 3700 in 1976 in direct contrast to their ordinary precious metal complicated pieces and elegant dress watch offerings.
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