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A Complete Hands-on Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 Review

Presenting a hands-on Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 review by Raymond Lee Jewelers in Boca Raton, Florida. Here is everything you need to know about one of the most iconic vintage sports watches in history.

In a world where large steel sports watches are commonplace, a vintage sports watch like the 1985 Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800/1A is an incredibly distinct and classy timepiece amongst the crowd. It’s not “old”, but it certainly isn’t young. It isn’t big, but it’s not dainty either. This extremely slim high-end Swiss sports watch is sophisticated, subtle, and made to perfection. The Patek 3800 is the perfect watch for those who want to be unique in an elegant, far from “loud” type of way. This is a watch that comes from a series that debuted in 1981. The Patek Nautilus 3800 series was released only 5 years after the original debut of Patek Philippe’s Nautilus 3700 – a Gérald Genta design. At the time of its release, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 made a statement that was heard across the globe, and it’s a statement that still resonates with the elite community of watch aficionados to this day. The Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 was created to be the mid-size, formal Patek Philippe Nautilus. It is a watch for Patek traditionalists who favor the size of Patek’s dress watches (33 to 36mm) but want an alternately sportive watch. The Nautilus 3800 plays perfectly into that position. It is sporty, but still has a classic every day and every occasion look, with its white metal (stainless steel), black dial, and sleek hands, all of which create a charmingly upscale demeanor.
The 3800 reference had a long production, from 1981 to 2005.
During this time frame, the Patek 3800 served as the dressier watch amongst the Nautilus family. The Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 is, in our opinion, the most upscale version of the Nautilus. It is distinct amongst the rest and immediately identifiable. In the community of watch enthusiasts, this is one of the most discussed and highly sought after models. People have been in love with this watch since it was first introduced back in 1981. This is a big reason for its long-running production period. Now, moving forward in this article, we are going to take you through all of the finer details of this incredible watch. Then, we are going to tell you where you can find this highly coveted, collectible, vintage Nautilus timepiece.  

Patek 3800/1A – Stainless Steel: 

The Patek Philippe 3800 was crafted with the same standard of metallurgy from the case all the way to the clasp. It’s of the finest quality and finishing, which you would only expect from Patek Philippe. The watch is alternately finished using brushed and high-polished techniques, which makes it look like a precious stone gleaming with contrast. Everything from the flank of the bracelet to the clasp, bezel, and case is beautifully rendered as per Patek Philippe’s standard. And, with this particular example, the original high-quality craftsmanship has been flawlessly preserved. There are no dings or dents, leaving it in as excellent condition as it was when it first came out of its watch box… Additionally, an interesting fact about older Nautilus watches is the type of steel alloy they use. It’s made from nickel-chrome-molybdenum. This steel alloy, at the time of its release, was the highest standard of steel alloy. It’s made to withstand extremely high and low temperatures, and pressure, and is very remarkable for its resistance to corrosion. This type of alloy was used exclusively in the development of tanks during World War II. This was due to its protective qualities and lightweight. The alloy easily trumps any regular steel of its time.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 CASE:

Across the broad of its case, the watch spans 37.5mm. With that being said, the 37.5mm measurement can be a bit misleading to how it actually looks. The other measurements you need to take into consideration are as follows: Measure it diagonally, from the 7 o’clock to the 2 o’clock across the case, the measurement is approximately 35.5mm; measure it lug to lug, the measurement is 39mm; and measure it from the hard-line outcropping of the band, the measurement is 42mm across the wrist. In regards to the height of the Nautilus 3800, it is gracefully slim thanks to the monoblock case and thin movement inside. It measures 7.5mm in thickness.

Solid Caseback

The caseback is solid, using the original patent Gérald Genta design and more expensive front-loader structure, whereby the dial, movement, and all the components that go inside the case are put in from underneath the bezel rather than the caseback. The wings on the sides of the case serve as fastening points, holding the face of the watch down to bestow the watch with necessary water resistance (120 meters). These features were abandoned starting with the 2006 Nautilus reference, in place of multi-piece cases. So, the 3800, from any of its production years, is going to be an original Nautilus architecture. The vision that was created and patented by Gérald Genta over 40 years ago. It’s hard to beat a classic look.

Iconic Octagonal Bezel

Featuring Nautilus’s iconic smooth octagonal bezel. It has a very clean look and makes for a fluid transition from the case, almost as if they are one and the same. Again, the windows or ‘ears’, as people commonly refer to them, on both sides of the bezel hold the front and back of the case in place and keep things watertight.

Nautilus 3800-1A DIAL:

The dial has a handsome gloss lacquer. It has qualities that show a sort of reflection, like water or wet paint, where it seems that if you were to dip your finger into it, it would cause a ripple. This is the perfect resemblance of the Nautilus as a whole, which drew inspiration from Trans-Atlantic sea expeditions. The hands are slim, rectangularly shaped, and have luminous filling. The look sets this watch apart from many other Nautilus watches. It is more formal and dressy in appearance thanks to the clean, elegant dial. It’s not exactly a loud and energetic watch that you would see someone surfing with at the beach, although it is of that water resistant quality. The 3800/1A (steel on steel) has a dark blue dial with horizontal channels (guilloché – a decorative technique) which give it an ocean like effect. There are single baton indices from the 1-2 o’clock and 4-11 o’clock and then a double baton index at the 12. All the batons have a luminous fill, so it offers superb lighting in dark settings. At the 3, there is a porcelain white date aperture with black numerals. A nice significant change from the Jumbo Nautilus 3700 is that the Nautilus 3800 has a thin central second hand. The central second hand is a clear indicator of the mechanical evolution that took place in the Nautilus 3800, which is run by an in-house movement calibre. The supplemental central second hand may seem like a simplistic evolution. And, that may be true. However, all of the future Nautilus’ references include the central second hand. Therefore, it’s worth mentioning that the Patek 3800 was the first. All in all, the dial is minimalistic yet the details are just as impeccable as the quality of each element.

Patek Philippe 3800 Calibre 335 SC MOVEMENT:

Inside the monoblock case is a Calibre 335 SC (SC for Seconde Centrale), an in-house movement of Patek’s, which stems from a decision to create their very own automatic slim movement. This is why the thickness of the watch is so amazingly thin (yet perfectly substantial). The Calibre 335 SC is a much more contemporary movement than the Nautilus predecessor, the JLC-based movement. The Calibre 335 SC has 29 jewels, a central rotor, shock-absorber, an ultra-thin self-winding movement with a sweep second hand and date. It has a gold rotor with circular Geneva stripes, a Gyromax balance wheel, and it beats at a 3Hz frequency. Lastly, at full charge, it has a power reserve of 45 hours. So, you can take it off and put it back on without rewinding it for pretty two full days. The Calibre 335 SC is thought to be one of the best thin movement calibers on the market, even still to this day. It is incredibly precise and reliable.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Stainless Steel BRACELET & CLASP:

The bracelet is completely original to Nautilus. It uses the same stainless steel as the rest of the watch. The polishing is pure perfection, and it has a magnificent taper. It has a large overall length of 205 millimeters. The bracelet features that charmingly handsome double link design with wide H section primary links and polished center intermediate links. The watch sports an exceptionally well made double deployment clasp, which has an engraved “Nautilus” on the inside. When closed, the clasp is ultra secure by using a clamshell. The clamshell features a Calatrava cross. The clasp and bracelet are just as low profile as the case. So, this makes it perfect for all of the desk divers out there who often bang their bracelets and clasps on their desks and draws. You will be hard-pressed to find a more classic and elegant stainless steel sports watch bracelet and clasp than the Patek Nautilus 3800.

Patek 3800 ON THE WRIST:

On the wrist, the watch is 6 1/3 inches (16cm) in circumference. This Nautilus watch is determinedly midsize when comparing it to the first Nautilus watch, the 3700. The Patek 3700 was released in 1976 and was known as the Jumbo. The Jumbo was decidedly similar in features but was 42mm in diameter. The Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 fits outstandingly well on a smaller to medium size wrists. Now, for those with larger wrists, it is a Patek Philippe Nautilus after all, so it has the seriousness to handle a larger wrist. For those with larger wrists, you will find the Patek 3800 exquisitely satisfying if you have a taste for smaller and more tactful timepieces. Moreover, due to the watches slim frame (case, bezel, and bracelet), it will slide under any dress cuff or tight sleeve you put in front of it. It’s a true man’s watch and you’ve never worn a sports watch that fits flatter than this one.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 FOR SALE:

The Patek Philippe 3800 is extremely rare, especially one in excellent condition like this. It is one of the most coveted and iconic Patek Philippe watches ever. Vintage watch collectors across the world are constantly seeking to obtain the Patek 3800. We are happy to say that we have the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800 for sale at our Raymond Lee Jewelers showroom in Boca Raton, Florida, and it is in excellent form. If you have an interest in purchasing the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800/1A (steel on steel), contact us below to speak with one of our expert watch representatives.

Please fill out this contact form with a request for pricing and any questions you have. Reference ‘Patek 3800’ in the message field.

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About Raymond Lee Jewelers and Diamonds by Raymond Lee:

Raymond Lee Jewelers is one of South Florida’s best sales and service centers for luxury watches. We are a family owned and operated business located in Boca Raton. Raymond Lee Jewelers has spent the last three decades building a solid reputation. This has earned us an A+ rating with our local BBB. We aim to meet the needs of all of our customers, while and exceeding expectations. Our mission is to provide the best possible experience when it comes to luxury watch dealings or servicing. We combine value and quality with the ability to understand the minds of people from all generations and walks of life. Our services include buying, selling, repairing, and restoring watches, including but not limited to, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Van Cleef & Arpelsbr, Hublot, Harry Winston, Bvlgari, Cartier, Breitling, Tudor. Furthermore, we are proud to say that we have one of the largest collections of Rolex watches in all of South Florida. If you’d like to stop by our showroom, we are located at: West Boca Location – 22191 Powerline Road #12b  – Boca Raton, FL 33433 East Boca Location – 2801 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33431 Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 10 AM – 6 PM Saturday 10 AM – 5 PM Closed Sunday Phone number:  561-750-7808
If you have anything you’d like to share regarding our Patek Philippe 3800 Review, please feel free to leave a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.