When Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern announced in early 2021 that the stainless steel Nautilus ref. 5711 was kaput, the watch world held its breath. It was clear that Mr. Stern felt it was time for a hard reset. “We cannot put a single watch on top of our pyramid,” he told The New York Times.
Fair enough. Patek is known for its complicated precious metal watches — steel production has been quoted at something like 30% of the company’s output — and to have an unobtainable, stainless steel sports watch occupying the minds of the entire watch collecting public is not the maison’s objective. (Granted, the company is in the fortunate position of being able to afford not to have that particular objective — its 2019 revenue is quoted at roughly $1.5 billion, despite an output of roughly 60,000 pieces per year.)
When Mr. Stern announced the discontinuation of the 5711/1A-010 with blue-black dial, he promised that the Nautilus would have a “victory lap.” This particular reference took the form of the green-dial ref. 5711/1A-014, which, of course, proved just as unobtainable as the 5711/1A-010. Finally, the world saw the release of the limited-edition, Tiffany-signed, Tiffany- blue 5711, an example of which hammered for several millions of dollars in December of 2021, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.
And then the rumors started. Most of what we “know” at the moment is pure speculation — the usual internet scuttlebutt from various forums and other watch journalism sources such as our friends at Time & Tide, who offered a nuanced analysis on their site. But we also have information slyly conveyed from Mr. Stern himself from which we can deduce a fair amount. And while we assume the watch will be released at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 in late March/early April, we can’t be totally sure — a company as important (and independent) as Patek Philippe does things on its own timeline.
So without further ado, let’s dive into what the possible follow-up to the 5711 might be like.
It Could Be Called the 6711
Six comes after five. Don’t @ us.
If we’re being real, the new reference number could conceivably be anything. There was previously a 3711, a 42mm “Jumbo” reference in similar configuration to the 5711. But we wouldn’t be surprised if the Stern family, in wanting to take the Nautilus in a new direction, settled on a reference number that wasn’t iterative or successive to the 5711. So while for simplicity’s sake we’re going to continue to refer to the new watch as the 6711, it could just as well end up being called something else. (Further rumors state that the 6711 will not have a date window — if this is true, then it would be logical to assume a new reference number that doesn’t use the “11” configuration.)
It Might Be Titanium or Platinum, or Both
“The replacement for the Reference 5711 will be pretty big,” said Mr. Stern in his NYT interview. “It will be better than the Reference 5711, but I’m not going to say today what metal it will use, or if it will be in steel. It will be something else, very close, and logical.” Had he not mentioned case metals at all, it might have been fair to assume a new steel watch would take the place of the 5711 but in slightly different proportions, or with an updated movement or dial configuration, etc. But in bringing up case materials, Mr. Stern kickstarted the ol’ speculation mill.
The word on the street is that we’re in for, at the very least, a titanium Nautilus. This would yank a nearly 50-year-old model firmly into the 21st century. (In fact, the scuttlebutt is wildly specific, promising us a “6711/1T-001” in titanium and a “6711/1P-001” in platinum, but as it says in the Old Testament, “Man plans, while Thierry Stern laughs.” Or something.)
Titanium at the very least is a logical move — robust, light, and modern, it’s a futuristic metal that is now finally taking its place in the pantheon of luxury materials. If the Patek customer will spring for a $30K+ steel watch, we see no reason why he or she wouldn’t spend more money on a titanium version. (Unless he or she insists upon the heft of steel, which, well — fair enough.)
It Will Be Slightly Larger Than the 5711
The 5711 measures 40mm in diameter, and word is that we’re in for a 41mm Nautilus in the 6711 — a notable change. In the past few years the watch world has finally been trending back down towards sub-40mm timepieces that are more wearable by a larger percentage of the population. But at the same time, we’ve seen major brands upsize key models to 40mm+ sizes.
In 2020, Rolex presented a 41mm Submariner for the first time in that model’s history, signaling to the world that the big players still see value in offering moderately larger watches in the 2020s. Will Patek follow suit? It’s not an illogical move considering that the Nautilus is, after all, a sport watch with 120m of water resistance — after all, we’ve seen 42mm references before. Maybe 41mm is the new sweet spot?
It Won’t Have a Date Window
Much of the information we have on the “6711” comes from supposed “leaked” photos that have made their way around the forums, such as The Rolex Forum. These photos show two references, one in titanium and one in platinum, neither of which features a date window. The original Nautilus reference 3700/1A famously didn’t feature a seconds hand — an omission probably more notable on a sports watch than the lack of a date. (After all, the quintessential sport watch, the Rolex Submariner, didn’t feature a date window until the introduction of the reference 1680 in 1967.)
Currently, all stainless steel Nautilus models in the Patek catalog do feature a date, which would make the introduction of a dateless, uncomplicated model a notable move by the brand — especially in a climate in which it’s easier to sell a date-equipped watch to the average buyer than one without.
The Bracelet Will Feature a Notable Upgrade
The Nautilus is one of the original “luxury sports watches,” a key feature of which is an integrated bracelet (or strap) that’s very much part of the watch’s DNA. This feature will certainly be retained on the new “6711,” but the rumor mill promises two positions of micro-adjustment on the bracelet’s butterfly clasp — an improvement that will make it easier to size the Nautilus to more wrists, and one currently present in the ladies’ models. Of course, the bracelet on each model will match the case material: a titanium bracelet on the titanium watch and a platinum bracelet on the pl-tinum watch.
It Will Use New Version of an Existing Movement, or One That's Entirely New
This particular rumor is tethered to that concerning the lack of a date window. The 5711 is equipped with the Calibre 26-330 S C, which includes center-seconds and a date window. However, there isn’t currently a watch in the Patek catalog that uses a dateless version of this movement. The “leaked” photos show two references that thus make use of the Calibre 324 S, however, this move isn’t a logical one — the idea that Patek would return to an older caliber family in two brand-new references rather than customize the Calibre 26-330 S C or develop an entirely new movement doesn’t exactly hold water. We thus imagine we’ll see a version of the Calibre 26-330 S C or an entirely new movement in the “6711” watches.