We know that Patek Philippe has long been regarded as one of the most expensive luxury watch brands in the world, and perhaps one of the most prestigious. Until recently, however, it was never quite as chic or chic as Richard Mille, nor flashy enough for those who really wanted to show off their fortune. However, the famous watchmaker’s decision to ignore trends and fashion almost entirely seems to have paid off, as some models of Patek Philippe have become so popular these days that they are almost impossible to buy. This started with the stainless steel nautilus but has recently expanded to include other models, most notably the Aquanaut.
Traditionally, these groovier nautical-inspired models, the first created by the legendary Gerald Genta and launched in 1976, were cheaper and less coveted by cheap replica Patek Philippe enthusiasts. They stood for a step up from entry-level versions of the Calatrava perhaps, but not on a par with Patek’s complications or legacy pieces. After all, the Aquanaut was only introduced in 1997.
However, over the past few years, the Nautilus has steadily obtained an influential following, among them the likes of celebrities including Brad Pitt, Jay-Z, and Jason Statham. Lately, Virgil Abloh – Kanye West’s longtime collaborator and one of the hottest fashion designers on the planet, joined the club with a custom blacked-out version that suddenly gave the Nautilus some serious street cred, which has trickled down to the similarly sporty Aquanaut collection.
This led no less a publication than the Financial Times to state that the Nautilus is now the “Birkin bag of watches,” referring to the world’s most coveted Hermès handbag, famous for its long waiting list. Meanwhile, the waitlist for a stainless steel Nautilus – the cult favorite – is now said to be eight years long according to British GQ, while prices for recently produced pre-owned models are going for a hefty premium over retail, a phenomenon that once only ever occurred with replica Rolex. Now the Aquanaut, which historically has been far easier to obtain than the Nautilus, is attracting some of the same glamour.