[dropcap size=small]F[/dropcap]our decades ago, Patek Philippe launched an anomaly. A luxury sports watch made of stainless steel and measuring 42mm diagonally across, the Nautilus was a daring departure from the era’s high-end watches, which were typically smaller, dressier and crafted from gold. It went on to become an icon; today, steel models often command months-long waiting times.

This year, the 177-year-old company again raises eyebrows with a pair of 40th-anniversary pieces. They’re made of precious metals and have flashy touches that have got some watch fans tut-tutting. Our preferred model is the Ref. 5711/1P, a time-and-date Nautilus encased in icy platinum. Its dial features baguette-cut diamond hour markers and embossed commemorative lettering – accents that are rather subtly and tastefully executed, but are enough to get purists into heated debates.

These special editions mark the 40th anniversary of the Nautilus, designed by the late, great watch designer Gerald Genta in 1972.

Aside from these shared aesthetic details, the other anniversary model also stands out with its size.

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Ref. 5976/1G, a chronograph watch in white gold, measures 49.25mm in width (and 44mm diagonally across). This makes it the largest model in Patek’s current catalogue, as well as a contrarian statement at a time when watch sizes are shrinking, following years of pumped-up cases.

Whatever naysayers feel, though, what is certain is that these by-application-only (that’s right, you have to apply for them) timepieces will go fast. Priced at $149,300, Ref. 5711/1P is limited to just 700 pieces, while the chronograph Ref. 5976/1G retails at $127,000 and is limited to 1,300 pieces.






Baguette-cut diamonds weighing a total of 0.34 carats form the hour markers.

A diamond is set in the bezel at six o’clock – a signature of Patek Philippe’s platinum watches.