|Bezel||Alternating brushed and polished|
|Dial||Black, gold applied hour markers with luminescent coating|
|Movement||Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding, Calibre 324 S QA LU 24H/303|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 120m (394 ft)|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 40 hours|
|Functions||Annual calendar, moonphases, day, date, month apertures. 24 hour display|
|Bracelet||Alligator strap with rectangular scales, hand stitched, matt black. Fold over clasp.|
The Patek Philippe Nautilus is a stunning piece of horological work and is perhaps the classic manifestation of the adage: ‘practise makes perfect’. What do I mean by that? Put an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak next to one and you will see exactly. And how from 1972 to 1976, the nautical themed design was evolved and refined to create this iconic watch.
That is not to say the Royal Oak is not a beautiful piece. It really is. It must also be said it has a totally different visual impact and wrist presence (thanks to its greater diameter and angular styling) to its rival.
Somehow however, in the way all great designers do, in having already created a beautifully aggressive masterpiece, Genta took that inspiration and progressed it. He smoothed out the edges, removed the bolts from the bezel and combined it all in a case that created a more conservative shape and size (albeit still 40.5mm). This must have taken some confidence on his part; how many can say they have fundamentally affected an entire industry, particularly one steeped in tradition, not once but twice? To my eyes, what Genta did with the Nautilus was a more impressive achievement; he took an already stunning design and made it even better.
There is no doubt, I would suggest, that in the holy trinity of watchmakers, Patek Philippe sits above Audemars Piguet, maybe even above Vacheron Constantin. That is a bold statement and one I do not make lightly. Many will disagree. But taking into account design, movements and finishing, I see Patek Philippe as being the leader of the three.
So what of this Nautilus 5726A Annual Calendar?
The dial is a stunning gradient of grey and brown (albeit its maker states it as black), which is offset perfectly by the vertically symmetrical day and month at the top, with the date, moonphase and 24-hour indicator at six o’clock. It is a complicated watch; with the maison inventing the annual calendar in 1996 and the complication finally making its way to the Nautilus line up in 2010. Yet despite this complication such is the excellence of design the dial is left both uncluttered and highly legible.
The simplicity is not left there. To ensure the head of the watch is kept as clean as possible, the calendar function is utilised by depressing pushers buttons embedded into the case. From the vantage of the point of the wearer therefore, the only thing protruding is a single crown, used to change the time. It’s ingenious.
The strap is a lovely black alligator on one side with calf on the inside and is extremely comfortable. The clasp is a model specific deployment style that closes with a neat snick, reading Nautilus. To add to the level of detail, the strap is adjusted by unscrewing a bolt that affixes the clasp to the leather. That means the strap is not perished by forcing through an enlarged pin head through the material, as it is with a Royal Oak. A simple detail that denotes a rung above on the horological ladder.
On the wrist it has a perfect balance of presence in terms of size, finishing (as with the Royal Oak, there are alternate brushed and polished finishes) and an elegance of design that almost forces you to look at it. Even better, it works as beautifully with a suit (fitting perfectly under a shirt cuff thanks to its smoothed bezel) as it does with jeans and casual t shirt. Even the rose gold Nautilus (which I will leave for another review) never looks too much. It is one of the most elegant and versatile sports watches you could buy and it oozes class.
The Nautilus 5726 Annual Calendar in stainless steel is, like almost any Patek Philippe or indeed more specifically, any Nautilus, a grail watch. It has a nearly perfect combination of presence without being overweight, supreme finishing without looking too chintzy, and is instantly recognisable whilst resisting the temptation of delving into the realms of brashness. And with its highly legible, usable complication this is a great example of everything Patek Philippe stands for. Stunning.
The Nautilus 5726 Annual Calendar retails for around £30,210 but the waiting list, if you can get on one, means you are unlikely to see one for around two years. This watch has now been discontinued, meaning prices are likely to begin to rise. Such is the demand, they are selling for around 10% more than RRP on the secondary market.