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. The two-tone case is done tastefully well and despite being out of fashion for a long time, recent trends have suggested that it is making a big comeback. The gold dial with its horizontal stripes looks so good in the light and depending on the lighting conditions it is either a more muted yellow tone or a bright gold beam of light.
Furthermore, this particular example is made even more special as it is an early series, distinguished by the black date window. Despite this being a little detail, collectors seem to gravitate towards things like this. 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.
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.