Welcome to Watches of the Week, where we’ll track the rarest, wildest, and most covetable watches spotted on celebrities.
It’s difficult to believe now, but at one point the Nautilus was just another new watch trying to catch on with collectors. When the watch was first introduced in 1976, there were no decade-long waitlists, Tiffany-dial versions, or red-hot resale markets crazed with Nautilus fever. Instead, most collectors shied away from the Nautilus because of its size—42 millimeters, huge by 1970s standards—and it was nicknamed “Jumbo.” So, in 1981, Patek introduced a slimmer version, known as reference 3800. That watch came in at 37 millimeters, or what is now lovingly referred to as midsize—think of this model as the Audi Q8 of timepieces.
More exciting than the size adjustment was how Patek used the 3800 to expand the Nautilus universe. The original 3700 version hung its hat on stainless steel: “One of the world’s costliest watches is made of steel,” an advertisement read at the time. But Patek started releasing the slimmed-down 3800 in yellow gold, platinum, a yellow-gold-and-stainless-steel combo, white gold, and even rose gold. Some of these watches were even set with diamonds, and… do you see where I’m going here?
Jay-Z could easily buy a modern watch and let a jeweler have their way with it. Instead, Hov tracked down a 40-year-old vintage Nautilus, one of the very first models of this now-beloved line. That’s what makes Jay a great collector and it’s why this piece is worthy of the Super Bowl.
Also this week, a watch fit for a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and another Tiffany-dial Nautilus.
Matt Stafford’s Patek Philippe Aquanaut
Super Bowl championship parade essentials: a cigar, a Bud Light tall boy, and one of the world’s finest sport watches. The Aquanaut, launched in 1997, is something of a little brother to the Nautilus—in the ‘90s, Patek wanted something even sportier and edgier to offer its younger clients. It’s the only Patek with a rubber bracelet, and it’s just the sort of watch Stafford doesn’t have to worry about sloshing Bud Light…