I guess I have to begin by saying what everyone already knows: The Nautilus has to be the most popular watch of the last five years. With the modern 5711 trading at multiples of its retail and the vintage Jumbo 3700 trading for, even more, most people have been priced out of these examples.
Well, good thing Patek had a mid-size sibling to go along the Jumbo back in the day and as a result of these premiums, the prices of these have followed too. The 3800 was introduced at a time when the Nautilus was still seen as a brash, anti-Patek watch. Clients and critics alike were used to seeing elegant dress watches and were perhaps shocked to see that they followed in the footsteps of Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak when they introduced the 3700 in the 70’s- Not to mention using the same designer in Gerald Genta! Furthermore, watch sizes of that era were much smaller, so to have a 42mm piece was considered hugely oversized and this is where the 3800 fits in, sized at 38mm and more acceptable to the general public.
The 3800 is every bit as good as its larger sibling and featuring the same monobloc case with beautiful finishing throughout. Every surface is brushed and polished and when it reflects light it simply looks amazing.
What makes this particular example so amazing is that it comes equipped with two dials. While it originally came with a white dial, the original owner had his watch sent back to Patek to change to the extremely rare blue dial with diamond index markers. Subtle yet shiny enough for you to notice, the diamond markers adds a brilliance to the dial that the ordinary one just doesn’t have. Furthermore, with the absence of the usual long index markers, there is a lot more dial on the watch, giving it a larger appearance.
For the longest time, the 3800 Nautilus has lived in the shadow of the ‘Jumbo’, but as collectors become savvier, knowledgable, and confident, many have realized that they in fact prefer this reference as it suits their wrists better. Mid-size watches are hugely popular today and it shows that there are references like this that are just as rare and collectible.
It’s hard not to love the Nautilus, despite the mainstream craze as once you strap it onto your wrist, you begin to understand why