The Patek Philippe Nautilus is one of the world’s most sought after watches, and for good reason. It’s comfortable on the wrist, sporty and robust enough to handle whatever your day might bring, and it’s made by one of the best watchmakers in the world. However, the Nautilus is so popular it’s effectively impossible to purchase in 2022, which left us wondering, what are the best Patek Nautilus alternatives?
Firstly, it’s worth reminding ourselves of exactly what the Patek Philippe Nautilus is and why it’s so well-loved by watch collectors, celebrities and the world’s wealthiest alike. The Nautilus watch was first seen by the world in 1976 when Patek Philippe released the timepiece as its first luxury sports watch. This release was partially in response to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, which in turn was developed to re-energise enthusiasm for mechanical watchmaking after Japanese quartz movement watches became popular in the early ’70s.
It was the legendary watch designer Gerald Genta that Patek Philippe engaged for the design of the Nautilus, following his creative handiwork to design the Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet just a few years earlier. Despite both of these now-iconic timepieces being made from stainless steel, when they were first launched they were more expensive than some watches made of solid gold, effectively creating the first luxury sports watches in the process.
Now, nearly half a century later, the Patek Philippe Nautilus has seen dozens of different iterations in many different materials, with the most recent time-only version in stainless steel being the Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711. Though this reference has actually been recently discontinued, the Nautilus still has an important place in the Patek Philippe catalogue with the likes of the date and moonphase ref. 5712, annual calendar moonphase ref. 5726, and the chronograph date ref. 5780.
While we wait and see what the next time-only Nautilus watches from Patek Philippe will look like, auction prices for the ref. 5711 and its predecessors continue to reach eye-watering heights as the luxury watch market goes from strength to strength. Just in the last week, the big auction houses of Philips, Sotheby’s and Christie’s all sold ref. 5711 watches in their sales. Philips sold a box sealed example for $367,051, Sotheby’s sold a watch from 2008 for $165,173, and Christie’s brought the hammer down on a watch from 2016 for $220,231.
If all that seems a bit much for a watch with an RRP of $49,350, then we’re here to suggest a few other options that might tickle your fancy. This list still includes some of the most iconic watches in the game, but are all timepieces that you should be able to buy right now or at most, only have to wait for a couple of months before they arrive on your wrist.
Our Favourite Patek Philippe Nautilus Alternatives
Bulgari Octo Finissimo
In many ways, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo was the first originally designed integrated bracelet sport watch of the current era when it was first released back in 2017. Designed by the impeccably dressed and infinitely charming Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, the Octo Finissimo oozes strong Italian design, with a remarkably angular case and bracelet that also broke the record for the world’s thinnest automatic wristwatch.
Measuring 40mm in diameter, the titanium watch is a wafer-thin 5.15mm thick (thanks to the movement inside that is just 2.23mm thick), a set of dimensions that make it incredibly comfortable on the wrist. The angular titanium bracelet drapes elegantly despite its sharp lines, while the sparse dial features running seconds at 7 o’clock, powered by the BVL 138 calibre that offers 60 hours of power reserve. It’s a distinct design, but one that any watch collector could love.
The Piaget Polo is another sporty watch with an impressive history, which dates back to 1976 when it was launched as the brainchild of Yves Piaget himself. Today, it remains a core part of the Piaget catalogue, with a range of models including the Piaget Polo S and Date (both of which are solid alternatives to the Patek Philippe Aquanaut), which are all strong sports watches in their own rights.
The Polo is a 42mm stainless steel watch that is comfortably slender, standing just 9.4mm tall off your wrist, while still offering 100m of water resistance. Available in a range of different dial colours, including blue, grey and black, the horizontal dial stripes are harmonious with the horizontally brushed steel bezel, while the balance is maintained thanks to the date window at 6 o’clock. Powered by the Piaget 1110P Manufacture movement, the timepiece offers 50 hours of power reserve.
The Tissot PRX is the only watch on this list that won’t set you back five figures, but it’s important to talk about a range of Patek Philippe Nautilus alternatives and by no means it isn’t a really good wristwatch. Its design is inspired by a design from the late ’70s, much like many of the other watches mentioned here, which you can clearly see from the sharp lugs and neatly integrated steel bracelet.
Featuring a matching steel case that measures 40mm in diameter and is just 10.9mm thick, it’s a comfortable watch that also has a nice weight to it. Featuring an attractive grid pattern across its blue dial, the watch features a convenient date window and is guaranteed 100m of water resistance. The movement behind the dial is the venerable Powermatic 80, which not only boasts a Nivachron balance spring, but also offers 80 hours of power reserve, which is extremely competitive. If you’re after an authentic late-70s design, with an integrated bracelet and enough water resistance not to worry about it, the Tissot PRX is one of the best affordable alternatives on the market.
Chopard Alpine Eagle
If you’ve ever enjoyed winter in St Moritz, you’ll be delighted to learn there’s a watch with the same name, launched by Chopard in 1980. Today, the decedent of the St Moritz is the Chopard Alpine Eagle, a bold new take on sport-chic that pairs as nicely with a tailored suit as it does the ski slopes.
Featuring a 41mm case crafted from proprietary Lucent Steel A223, the Alpine Eagle is both more scratch-resistant and lustrous than the typical steel used in watchmaking. Arriving at the deep blue dial, we find a spiralled texture that is inspired by the iris patterns of eagles that make their home near the Chopard manufacture, complemented by white gold hour markers. Offering 100m of water resistance and powered by the 01.01-C calibre, this is a fantastic watch for anyone in the watch world looking to add something slightly more elevated to their collection.
Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto
While many watch industry brands wish they had a legitimate connection with the world’s most revered car races, Laurent Ferrier is a brand that actually does. In 1979, Laurent himself competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, alongside his watchmaking co-founder François Servanin where they secured third place behind the one and only Paul Newman.
The Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto was designed with this race in mind, as the ideal sport watch that Mr Ferrier wished he had while he was behind the wheel of his Porsche 935. As a result, it’s lightweight thanks to its 41.5mm titanium case, which in turn frames the blue dial with an opaline finish and plenty of luminescence. Visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, the Sport Auto is powered by the calibre LF270.01, which is an automatic movement wound by a micro-rotor, serving up 72 hours of power reserve. A lot cooler than a Rolex Daytona, that’s for sure.
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus
Just like the Royal Oak and Nautilus when they were first released, the Odysseus copped a bit of heat when it was first announced by A. Lange & Söhne. Collector’s believed the brand was abandoning its values as a bastion of traditional watchmaking, in pursuit of taking a piece of the white-hot steel sports watch market. Obviously, we disagree with those grumbles, as the Odysseus not only serves to bring the century-old German watchmaker into the current moment but also as it stands alone as a carefully designed everyday wear watch that offers something a little bit different.
Featuring a 40.5mm stainless steel case, which is slim at just 11.1mm thick, its integrated bracelet is a feat of engineering that works extremely well with the overall case shape. Its dark blue dial is a study in balance and proportion, with an oversized seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, with a day and date window at 9 and 3 o’clock to be read cleanly from left to right. Powered by the L155.1 calibre, the Odysseus boasts a platinum winding rotor and 50 hours of power reserve.
Girard Perregaux Laureato
Despite its contemporary feel, the Girard Perregaux Laureato was actually another of the original sport watch releases in the 1970s, with its stainless steel case first seeing the light of day in 1975. Like so many watches from that era that had integrated bracelets, such as the Zenith Defy classic, its case and bracelets blend seamlessly into one another, making for a comfortable everyday timepiece.
With a 42mm stainless steel case, the polished octagonal bezel nicely frames up the Clous de Paris pattern dial, you’ll see a date display at 3 o’clock, while the sapphire crystal caseback (an improvement on the original Hardlex crystal dial window) helps guarantee the watch to 100m water resistance. Behind that sapphire crystal, you’ll find the in-house calibre GP01800, ticking away at 28,800vph and offering at least 54 hours of power reserve.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas
To mark the 222nd anniversary of Vacheron Constantin in 1977, the coveted brand launched the 222, designed by the East German-born watch designer Jörg Hysek. This instantly recognisable timepiece formed the source DNA for the modern Vacheron Constantin Overseas, as a great watch that can handle everyday wear as well as a Rolex Submariner, but sits more firmly within the luxury range of Swiss watches.
Today, the Overseas features a 41mm steel case that is comfy at 11mm thick, as well as an integrated bracelet that is a picture of complexity in terms of its blend of brushed and polished surfaces. Its stunningly blue dial is perhaps only eclipsed in beauty by the movement beneath it, which is the 60-hour power reserve automatic calibre 5100, wound via a 22k gold rotor. With 150m water resistance, you’ll be able it from the boardroom to the beach.
Czapek Antarctique Passage De Drake
While it might not have the same long history as some of the other watches on this list, the Czapek Antarctique Passage De Drake is an expertly made wristwatch and an example of just how good independent watchmaking is in 2022. It’s a watch with a strong shape, designed to emphasise the interplay of brushed and polished surfaces across the case and bracelet, without disrupting any of the clean symmetry that the dial works so hard to achieve.
Featuring a stainless steel case that measures 40.5mm in diameter, its dial is a masterpiece of trapezoids, all of which add significant depth to the overall visual impression of the watch. However, it’s the movement inside that deserves the most praise, with the SXH5.01 automatic calibre presenting as a technical tour de force, thanks to its complex bridge structures and free-sprung balance wheel with variable inertia. The Antarctique Passage De Drake is a very long way from your standard steel sport watch and a demonstration that you really can have something much more interesting as a Nautilus alternative.
Best Patek Philippe Nautilus Alternatives – Frequently Asked Questions
What watch looks like Patek Philippe Nautilus?
There are a number of watches that look like the Patek Philippe Nautilus, with similarities such as the thin steel case, integrated bracelet and waterproofness. A couple of the most popular alternatives include the Vacheron Constanin Overseas, Bulgari Octo Finissimo and Chopard Apline Eagle.
What is the best alternative to a Patek Philippe?
Some of the best alternative watch brands to Patek Philippe are Audemars Piguet, Bulgari, Piaget, Gigard Perregaux, A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus and and many more.
Why is Patek Philippe Nautilus so popular?
The Patek Philippe Nautilus is an incredibly popular wristwatch for several reasons. Firstly, Patek Philippe a very well-know brand, with a reputation for the highest quality, and its Nautilus watch is an ideal everyday timepiece within the brand’s catalogue. You can dress it up with a suit, you can wear it to the beach and everywhere in between.