Why I Bought It: Patek Philippe Reference 5740/1G-001 Nautilus Perpetual Calendar
Times change, and so do tastes! One of the great things about being deeply vested in any types of objects over a long period is that it’s possible to look back and see what aspects of your preferences have stood the test of time, which have proven to be passing fancies, and which new ones have emerged.
So it is for me with sport – and “dress sport” – watches.
In the beginning
I didn’t buy my first metal bracelet watch until the late 1990s, when, after lengthy consideration, I plunked down the better part of two grand on an Omega Speedmaster Mark 40 – the same reference also famously bought at retail by Hodinkee founder Ben Clymer’s grandfather and ultimately sparking Clymer’s interest in watches.
That was a true tool watch, even if it did have a triple calendar (that I once managed to jam while playing golf). I followed that one with even more of a tool, a vintage Omega Ploprof that still gets a bit of wrist time.
And it was around ten years ago that I took the step up to what might be considered dress sport watches with two Overseas models from Vacheron Constantin: the first a full yellow gold Dual Time dubbed the “Bling Special” that had a short stay with me, and the second a “Deep Stream” steel and titanium chronograph that remains a frequent wearer for me.
While the Overseas has become a darling among collectors recently, for years I was known as the oddball who answered the question “Nautilus or Royal Oak?” by saying “Overseas.” The addition a couple of years ago of an A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus to my mix seemed to signal continued distance from the “big two” dress sport lines for me, yet here I am with not only a Nautilus, but a complicated one at that on my wrist.
So what happened?
Why I bought Patek Philippe Reference 5740/1G-001 and how it fits
When in doubt, blame your friends! It was several years ago at one of our regular NorCal Gang lunches that I tried on a friend’s watch that began, just a bit, to erode my skepticism about the Nautilus. It was his Reference 3700/1G Nautilus, a three-hand watch made in stealthy white gold. Once I had it on my wrist, its combination of slimness and significant weight, along with the slinky bracelet made it very tough to take off at the end of the meal. I won’t say that I was hooked, but I was definitely intrigued.
Fast forward to 2016 when I had the chance to buy, at retail, the Reference 5976 40th Anniversary Nautilus in white gold. When I tried it on, it was just immense – so big, even for my wide wrist, that I quickly decided it simply wasn’t for me. Of course, that decision turned out to be a stinker financially: just take a peek at online asking prices for that reference if you don’t believe me.
In the silver lining department, though, perhaps it built my credibility with the Patek Philippe Salon staff as someone who wasn’t in this hobby as a financial pursuit.
My time to ask came in 2018 when Reference 5740 was introduced, featuring a vivid blue dial and Caliber 240 Q-based perpetual calendar. It had the wearability virtues of my pal’s Reference 3700 with a complication I particularly favor, and I immediately asked for one, starting a four-year wait during which my occasional gentle nudges were met by polite head shakes until the call came just prior to our group’s trip to Geneva in late March of this year.
In my pal Terry’s taxonomy, this is definitely a foundational watch in my assortment: a piece that comes from a significant maker, is emblematic of that firm’s work, and can serve as a cornerstone of any substantial collection.
Within my small set of Patek Philippe watches, it joins two other perpetual calendars, the vintage Reference 1526 in pink gold and Reference 3940P with blue dial, extending a clear theme. At the same time, it helps to round out the assortment as the first sport line reference among my Patek Philippes.
Why I love the Patek Philippe Reference 5740/1G-001
There are some watches that look best in the display case and others that shine in the light tent. Like my friend’s Patek Philippe Reference 3700, the 5740 is a watch that in my experience only truly captivates once it is on the wrist. I keep finding that, as with the 3700, the combination of supple feel and substantial weight make this watch hard to take off; and the view revealed when you pull up your sleeve, a combination of a pop of vivid blue and an almost muted white gold surround, is even better than I suspected it might be.
I’ve long loved blue dials, and this one is special: a much truer blue than on other Nautilus references and endowed with what Patek Philippe indicates is soleil (“sunray”) brushing – not easily visible to the naked eye, but noticeable in close-up images such as the one below.
To my eye the other elements of the dial work well, including the sizes of the subdials, the font chosen for the calendar indices, and the use of a dark background and grainy silver moon and stars for the moon phase indication. I’m sure there are also those who are pleased that Patek Philippe chose to make the date numerals all the same size rather than squeezing the 27, 29, 3, and 5 as on many of the firm’s more formal perpetual calendars, although I think each approach works well in its respective setting.
I do like the small pop of color signifying the first of the month and reminding us that this is, after all, a sporty watch.
Around the back, we’re greeted by an old friend: Caliber 240 Q, a micro-rotor automatic originally developed for the legendary Reference 3940 and still in use here, perhaps for the final time in any Patek Philippe perpetual calendar reference as the company continues to refresh its movement lineup.
One advantage of using Caliber 240 in the 5740 is that it allows for a super-thin perpetual calendar sport watch. During our recent visit with Patek Philippe, we were told that Reference 5740 is even thinner than the original Reference 3940 dress perpetual calendar favored by previous Patek Philippe president Philippe Stern as his daily wearer – quite an accomplishment. And as the Nautilus is the favorite of current president Thierry Stern, I can now claim at least a bit of a link to both father and son as I wear my examples of each.
When I posted an image of the 5740’s movement online, one friend asked me whether I could compare the current Patek Philippe Seal version of the caliber with an older Geneva Seal example. I was able to find a photo of the latter in my files, and in my completely unscientific comparison based on one example of each and shown below, my sense is that the finishing of the newer movement outshines the older one both literally and figuratively, especially when it comes to the polished edge bevels of the bridges.
Checking out the rear of the watch also gives us a chance to take a better look at the case and bracelet construction and finishing, which combines matte, brushed, and polished areas to good advantage. The bracelet is the newer Nautilus version with double push buttons linked to internal locking pins, eliminating the need for the flip-over safety as seen on prior Nautilus bracelets.
The interior of the clasp is an artistic exercise in Calatrava Cross goodness, nicely polished and with Calatrava sections incorporated into the mechanism.
I’m particularly happy with the choice of white gold as the material for this watch: for one, there’s the guilty pleasure of wearing a full-gold bracelet watch that doesn’t look particularly blingy. As mentioned before, the weight on the wrist is lovely, especially given the watch’s slim profile, for another. And I love how with the slightest bit of color in the ambient light the alloy used gives us a combination of grey and slightly pink hues that steel or platinum wouldn’t offer.
Of course, the perfect watch has yet to be made! I do love the heavy, supple, slim bracelet of this watch, but it grieves me that it does not include the length adjustment feature that Patek Philippe has recently added to some of the bracelets on its ladies’ Nautilus pieces.
When I took delivery, the watchmakers at the Geneva Salon patiently removed and added links and finally inserted a special mid-length link to make the fit to my liking. When I returned home to warmer weather, I figured I’d make a quick swap only to find that the process is much fussier than I’d anticipated with pushpins rather than screws and multipiece link assemblies. I finally succeeded in lengthening the bracelet but needed a stiff drink afterwards.
On the movement side, I can’t criticize the finishing but would certainly love to see some interior angles that require true hand work.
Finally, the shape of the Nautilus case is a bit of an acquired taste, at least for me! I’ll confess that I do prefer wearing the watch under a long sleeve so that the left “ear” of the case is less evident – perhaps in time I’ll come to love the porthole motif as much as the armies of Nautilus enthusiasts everywhere.
The elephant in the room
Am I happy that in the years since I originally expressed interest in Reference 5740 its secondary resale value has increased substantially? You bet I am, although I suspect I’d be even happier had I loved and bought that gigantic Reference 5976/1G that my friends have long since tired of hearing me talk about as one that got away.
That said, money isn’t why I applied for this watch, and it also isn’t why I bought it when my number came up. In a way, I’m sad that at times I’ll hesitate to wear it given its value, distinctive look, and the resulting potential to attract unwanted attention. Wear it I will, though; and even when it’s hidden up my sleeve its weight will be a pleasant reminder of its presence.
I’ll always love (and own) dress watches, and I suspect that in time the center of gravity of popular opinion will drift from its current sport-intensive position to something more balanced. That said, a more casual approach to clothing seems here to stay, and it’s great for me to have a portfolio of pieces from major brands including Patek Philippe that reflect that reality.
What’s your favorite dressy sport watch? I’ll look forward to your thoughts on Reference 5740 and others in the comments. In the meantime, happy wearing!
For more information, please visit www.patek.com/en/collection/nautilus/5740-1G-001.
Quick Facts Patek Philippe Nautilus Reference 5740/1G-001
Case: 40 x 8.42 mm white gold, brushed front and polished rear bezel and brushed, polished, and matte elements; front and rear sapphire crystals; water resistant to 60 m
Bracelet: white gold with polished and brushed link sections; Nautilus double-fold clasp
Dial: blue brushed sunburst grooved dial; radially grooved subdials; printed logo and minor indices; gold applied hour markers with luminescent coating
Movement: automatic Caliber 240 Q with micro rotor; 38- to 48-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency, Spiromax balance spring, Patek Philippe Seal
Functions: hours, minutes; perpetual calendar with day, date, month, leap year, and 24-hour indication by hands; moon phase
Price in 2022: $145,480
Production years: 2018 onward
*This article was first published 14 May 2022 at Why I Bought It: Patek Philippe Reference 5740/1G-001 Nautilus Perpetual Calendar