This year will mark 40 years of Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, and from October through December, Christie’s has curated a thematic auction to commemorate the special milestone: Forty watches, including the first model to the most recent, will be up for auction.
Christie’s is holding sales at four major auction venues: Dubai on Oct. 19, Geneva on Nov. 14, Hong Kong on Nov. 28, and New York on Dec. 6. Ten watches will be presented at each venue.
Patek Philippe is the last family-owned independent watchmaker in Geneva, started by the Polish pioneer in the field, Antoni Patek, who then joined French watchmaker and inventor Adrien Philippe. In the 1930s, the manufacturer was brought to America by Henri Stern.
In 1976, Stern’s son Philippe, who was poised to succeed the enterprise, thought it was the right time for a showpiece, according to the company. He sought to launch a sports watch with a strong personality and high-quality finishes, and from that idea came the Nautilus.
According to an article in Time and Watches, designer Gerald Genta said in a 2009 interview that he designed the piece at a Basel Trade Fair, sketching it out while watching his colleagues eat. The shape was inspired by a porthole of a transatlantic liner, and the name comes from Jules Verne’s novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and its fictional submarine, the Nautilus.
In a video retrospective, the company has examined how the watch has changed along with the times over the last 40 years, noting the additions of complications like the winding zone indicator, and moon phases.
For 2016, Patek Philippe has brought out two limited edition Nautilus 40th Anniversary models.