Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern has confirmed that there will be a replacement model for the Nautilus Ref. 5711 that is being discontinued this year but it is unlikely to be made available for people already on waiting lists that can be ten years long, or more.
“Stopping the Nautilus was an important decision, but we have a plan,” Mr Stern told the New York Times this week. “The replacement to the Ref. 5711 will be quite major. It will be better than the Ref. 5711,” he promises.
Speculation has been rife that the 5711 will be replaced in the Patek Philippe core collection with two new Nautilus references this year: 6711/1T with a 41mm titanium case and bracelet with a blue sunburst dial — all-but identical to the 5711 to the naked eye — and 6711/1P, the same specs but made in platinum with a black dial.
Mr Stern does not confirm that rumour, but his description of what is to come will do nothing to scotch it.
“I will not say today in what metal or if it will be in steel. It will be something else, very close, and logical,” he teases.
Culling the 5711 is leaving thousands of potential customers out of luck, even if they have been sitting on waiting lists for years, and the new reference does not look like it will be allocated to retailers trying to manage those lists without alienating customers.
“Some retailers only get two Nautiluses a year, but they have 100 names on their waiting list. It is their own responsibility to explain it to the customer, but it’s not easy when you have someone who insists on getting on the list. You cannot only blame Patek Philippe for not delivering enough watches,” Mr Stern insists.
Troubling for Patek Philippe’s ultra-loyal network of authorised dealers is news that the 5711 replacement will only be on sale at a handful of boutiques owned by the watchmaker.
“It will be our own salons located in Geneva, Paris and London. It is not the perfect solution, and it will be a nightmare for them. That is my suggestion right now, but we will listen to our store managers,” Mr Stern tells the New York Times.
On the face of it, that is bad news for retailers, but they may actually welcome the fact that Patek Philippe will handle an avalanche of calls for the new watch.
Authorised dealers have told WatchPro in recent years that it requires full time employees to field these persistent inquiries.
As for why Patek Philippe is nixing the 5711? It is all about protecting the long term health of the brand, Mr Stern says.
“We are doing this for our clients who already own a Patek Philippe and to protect our brand from becoming too commercial. I can continue to make this fantastic product, or sell 10 times more of them. But I am not working for numbers. I am protecting the company for the future, for my children,” he insists. “A watch should not be a top leader on its own. That is too dangerous,” he concludes.