Patek Philippe kills the 5711 and retreats from steel luxury sports timepieces

It is the talk of the day.
Nope, the year.
Well, let’s say: of the 2000s.

This watch was the wet dream of horology fans worldwide.
And everyone keeps asking himself why.

The answer is that Patek Philippe wanted to return back to its roots as a luxury company.

The company did not discontinue the whole Nautilus line, of course: it discontinued the 5711 model, that is, the “basic” steel Nautilus.

The meteoric, upward rising demand for a watch like the steel Nautilus was a sort of anomaly for a company like Patek Philippe – and a bit of an unwanted one.

The Stern family
The Stern family, with Mr. Thierry Stern on the right.

Mr. Thierry Stern, the current head honcho of the venerable watchmaker, had in more than one occasion stated his personal dislike for the model designed by Gerald Genta in its most plebeian material variant: stainless steel.

The Seventies, with their democratisation of luxury, are long gone. And the 5711 was the one exception that once confirmed the rule, but still brought the Geneva-based company too close to its utilitarian emulators clad in ferrous metal: the Professional Rolex line.

Rolexes, which continue to be tool watches, enjoyed the same popularity as Patek Philippe’s Nautilus. The difference between the two maisons was beginning to become less noticeable as the waiting list for both began to equalize.

What’s more, Stern wanted to remove surgically the thought of buying a Patek Philippe like the Nautilus for the most heinous crime imaginable for the company: flipping it.

So much for Patek Philippe’s key message: that a Patek watch is never owned, but treasured to pass down to the next generation.

Mr. Stern, faced with the proliferation of this low-life behaviour, decided to call it quits.

Taking a big risk, and displeasing many people who would have wanted a 5711, but cutting off forever this kind of activity on a model which was certainly exclusive, but one of the most affordable in Patek’s lineup.

In the meanwhile, he offered his customers an alternative: the 6711, which will be a bit bigger (41 mm) and won’t use steel anymore, but the more futuristic titanium. And will have a black-dial alternative in precious metal as well – ça va sans dire – platinum.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 6711 in platinum and titanium

With this move, Patek got itself out of the rat race, leaving it to Rolex and its supporters. Patek is returning to its previous state of excellence a status that is not and should not be dependent on an “access list” with a progressive number, but that refers to quite different and much more rarefied characteristics.

For Patek Philippe, luxury is exclusivity, and before it can be bought, it must be conquered through mutual recognition.

The result of this move by the Geneva-based company was the obvious and expected upward price spike of the steel 5711, which practically doubled its price on the second-wrist market overnight.

A final price to pay in regaining its position, leaving the market for luxury sport watches in steel to the swarm of other contenders.

The King exits the scene, making himself
even more conspicuous by his absence.

Who is going to step in and seize the Crown? Time will tell – but I have selected a few contenders in the article on The Truth About Watches: Patek 5711 RIP


You can find much more about horology and its fascinating history in The Watch Manual, a thorough e-book that explains all the basics about watchmaking and its protagonists.

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