Thierry Stern warned us the end was coming.
“I have to be very tough on the quantity of steel cheap replica watches. I don’t want steel taking over the lead in the whole collection.” He explained that he’d seen other brands produce too many steel fake watches – and once they go down that road, there’s no going back.
“I am limiting the steel versions, mostly the Nautilus,” he added. Stern was insistent that, of the 62,000 fake watches Patek produced annually, no more than 25 to 30 percent be made in steel.
Less than two years after that interview, the Nautilus reference 5711 was officially discontinued in 2021 without announcement or fanfare from Patek – “We don’t retire our Swiss replica watches by public announcement; the Nautilus does not deserve a better treatment,” Stern reasoned. It might not have deserved special treatment, but it got something else instead: a victory lap. Patek introduced an olive green dial for the final year of the 5711’s run, and then a final limited-edition Tiffany & Co. blue dial that drove us mad – the “fuck you 5711s,” as one collector I talked to called them. If that wasn’t enough, Phillips auctioned one of those Tiffany Nautiluses for $6.5 million in December 2021.
And with that sale, we reached Peak Nautilus. Since then, secondary market prices have dropped. Toward the end of 2021, a standard blue-dial steel Nautilus might’ve exchanged hands for more than $160,000. Today they’re more like $130,000, but – pulls out calculator – that’s still about 4x their original retail price. So still crazy, but slightly less so.
Before we go any further, it’s worth recapping what the Nautilus is: how a simple-looking super clone watches could sell for $6.5 million, and why it was such a big deal that Patek discontinued the reference 5711 – and replaced it, just yesterday, with the 5811/1G in white gold.