This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia July 2019 issue.
When Patek Philippe launched the first Nautilus in 1976 with the stainless-steel- cased Ref. 3700/1A, it used an almost prescient tag line: “One of the world’s costliest watches is made of steel.” While not the most expensive timepiece today in absolute terms, the Nautilus often expect the same as their male counterparts. A “proper” women’s watch should have a thoughtfully designed case and dial, with a mechanical movement sporting the same level of complexity and finishing as a corresponding men’s watch. Diamonds? Optional – a well-thought-out women’s watch should have variants both with and without, to suit each individual owner’s preference.
Nautilus models for ladies followed quickly after Ref. 3700/1A’s release, including quartz-powered references with smaller cases measuring 27mm and 33mm across. This was the industry’s norm back then – women’s watches were often adapted from men’s by downsizing the originals’ cases, rendering them in precious metals and fitting them with quartz movements. Times have changed though, and female connoisseurs today often expect the same as their male counterparts. A “proper” women’s watch should have a thoughtfully designed case and dial, with a mechanical movement sporting the same level of complexity and finishing as a corresponding men’s watch. Diamonds? Optional – a well-thought-out women’s watch should have variants both with and without, to suit each individual owner’s preference.
SPOILT FOR CHOICE
Patek Philippe has, to its credit, kept a finger on the pulse of women’s watches and adapted to the changing expectations. Case in point: the five new variants of the Ladies Automatic Nautilus Ref. 7118. Sized at 35.2mm, these timepieces are slightly larger than some previous references measuring 33.6mm across; the Ladies Automatic Nautilus now features a single case size across all references.
Flip the new Ref. 7118 over, and you’ll see the intricate Calibre 324 S C movement through the sapphire crystal case back. It has been finished and regulated to bear the Patek Philippe Seal, an in-house standard that guarantees the entire watch’s finishing, assembly and precision. Patek Philippe had reportedly created its in-house standard as a step beyond the traditional Geneva Seal, which it saw as being inadequate as a marker of watchmaking excellence.
Case and movement aside, the new watches feature a new fold-over clasp, which sports a simple push/pull adjustment system that allows the bracelet to be lengthened by 2mm to 4mm for an even closer fit for the wrist. Three of the new timepieces are in steel, with diamond-set bezels. Their dials come in blue, silver, or a grey that graduates to black at the dial’s edge. The two remaining variants in rose gold, on the other hand, come with plain bezels and either a gold or silver dial.
Although the new variants of Ref. 7118 supersede several older versions of the Ladies Automatic Nautilus, Patek Philippe has maintained the model’s hallmarks. These include the signature rounded octagonal bezel, protruding “ears” on the case’s flanks and the embossed wave pattern on the dial, which serves as a counterpoint to the horizontal ribbing found in men’s Nautilus timepieces.