When it comes to Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus, it is pretty much impossible to talk about one without talking about the other. Both watches were released in the same decade and were the first sports watches from the two brands. They both have distinctive dials, clean edges, and are crafted from cold metal with gorgeous finishing. The two watches have something very similar about them, yet they are unmistakably different…
This isn’t a surprise, though. The two iconic watches share a creator, a designer who left his mark on not only these two highly coveted, extremely popular watches, but the watch industry as a whole as well. That designer is Gerald Genta.
Gerald Genta Designs
Any watch enthusiast knows the name, Gerald Genta. He is the mastermind behind the Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet in 1972 and the Nautilus from Patek Philippe in 1976. Before that, he was designing Omega watches for years…more specifically, the Constellation and Seamaster models. The genius watch designer had his own company focused on designing watches, which he started in 1969. Most luxury Swiss watch brands design their watches in-house by someone on payroll, including Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, but with Gerald Genta’s proven success in creating beloved sports watches, they didn’t hesitate to hire Genta on these.
AP and PP both had a very long and rich history even before the birth of the Nautilus and Royal Oak, but unlike Rolex, they had never made a sports watch. So, they called in Gerald Genta to design a sports watch model that would ultimately keep the brands on trend with how the watchmaking industry was changing. Modern watch buyers wanted high-end sports watches from the “big three”, and that’s exactly what they got with the Royal Oak and Nautilus…
Gerald Genta went on to become a legend in watchmaking, producing more watches for other brands like IWC, while the Royal Oak and Nautilus became one of the most (if not the most) popular watch models in both of the brands’ entire line up, and that remains true to this day.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak vs Patek Philippe Nautilus
Now that we’ve made probably the most important commonality of these two watches clear, let’s match these two watches up and see if we can determine which is better, Royal Oak or Nautilus?
Although in many cases, when choosing a watch, it comes down to personal preference, we will put that to the side and take an unbiased view here. Anyway, we love both watches equally here at Diamonds by Raymond Lee.
So, that said, we will be making the comparison, and discussing both advantages and disadvantages, based on the following:
- Case & Bezel
- Dial & Legibility
- Bracelet & Clasp
- On the Wrist Comfort
- Overall Value
- Bang for your Buck
Note: The Royal Oak and Nautilus have had a few references since their birth. Today we are doing the comparison based on the Royal Oak 15400 and the Nautilus 5711. To make things easier, we will be referring to the 15400 simply as ‘Royal Oak’ and the 5711 as ’Nautilus’.
Case & Bezel
Royal Oak – The Royal Oak has a beautifully crafted case which measures 41mm in diameter. The case has Royal Oak’s distinct octagonal bezel with polished finishing. This polished case offers impeccably charming contrast with the rest of the case’s brushed finishing. The bezel has a somewhat “strong” look with the 8 hexagonal bolts. On the backside you have an exhibition caseback, allowing you to take a peek into the beauty of the movement. As for the crown, it’s a screw down and it is unprotected. The Royal Oak offers only 50 meters of water resistance.
Nautilus – The Nautilus has a stunning case with absolutely beautiful brushed surfaces. It measures 40mm in diameter but wears slightly bigger on the wrist due to the flared flanks of the case. The bezel on the Nautilus has a bit more of a polished look than the Royal Oak. It also offers a softer look than the Royal Oak, with the “curvy” edges, ergonomics and flat top surface. What’s more, the Nautilus has sculpted crown guards, so the screw down crown is protected. The watch is water resistant down to 120 meters.
Dial & Legibility
Royal Oak – The Royal Oak’s dial is very distinct with its tapisserie dial. It has a weaving pattern that forms a square and lozenge motif, capturing the light beautifully and emphasizing the watch’s geometric demeanor. The white gold hands are perfectly contrasted against the dials patterning, allowing for easy legibility. There is a modest amount of lume for night time viewing as well. The date window is small on the Royal Oak. That can be a good thing for some, who don’t like a date window that takes up to much real estate, but bad for those who have trouble reading the date quickly. Overall, the dial is one of the most charming things about the Royal Oak, and it’s quite minimalistic even in all of its luxury. It’s no-nonsense and pure style.
Nautilus – The Nautilus dial is truly a work of art. The colors are enthralling. With each change of angle, the light reflects the horizontal embossed bars beautifully, exchanging the colors in impeccable fashion. The Nautilus is also a no-nonsense dial, and it is purely luxurious. The white gold hands and hour markers contrast the dials background handsomely, allowing the similar colors to stand out for easy legibility. It also has excellent lume so night time viewing is a cinch. Similarly to the Royal Oak, the date window is small on this one…most would say it’s there when you want it and blends in when you don’t.
Bracelet & Clasp
Royal Oak – As we mentioned above, the Royal Oak has a slightly stronger, hardier look than the Nautilus, and this applies to the bracelet as well. So, it has a heavy construction and more pronounced brushed texture (which we must say is incredibly well done). The intermediate plot links give it a jewelry type look, yet keeps the manly theme going with the simplicity of the design. Overall, the bracelet is integrated with the case and clasp flawlessly. In regards to the clasp, it has a screwed link contraction and a mechanically locking double folding clasp. The only thing the claps is missing is the ability to make micro-adjustments to its size.
Nautilus – The Nautilus smooth and refined look continues into the bracelet and clasp. The quality of the bracelet and the finish is pretty much unseen on other sports watches (with the exception of the Royal Oak). That said, it is slightly thinner than most other sports bracelets. The Nautilus has such an elegant looking bracelet, with it’s pinned lightly brushed and high polished links. The integration of the bracelet with the case and clasp is perfect, as if it is all one piece, for how seamless they go together. As for the clasp, it is a double folding clasp. It doesn’t allow for micro adjustments, which is slightly disappointing, as the bracelet doesn’t have screwed links. Anything this bracelet lacks in function, it makes up for in beauty. Plus, it is secure as the best of them, and that is the most important function when it comes to a bracelet and clasp.
Royal Oak – Behind the exhibition caseback we have an AP in-house calibre 3120. The first thing you will see when looking through the caseback is a very good looking 22 karat rose gold winding rotor. The 3120 is a relatively newish movement, by watchmaking standards, at around 15 years old. It’s an automatic self-winding movement that operates at 3Hz. It uses bi-direction winding and has a substantial power reserve at 60 hours. Furthermore, it has an unlubricated highly efficient ceramic rotor bearing, screw-secured hairspring stud on a powerful full balance bridge. Overall it is a magnificently durable, reliable and precise movement that showcases this company’s expertise in creating exceptionally high caliber watches.
Nautilus – The Nautilus also features an exhibition window on its caseback. You can clearly see Patek’s Gyromax balance and finishing which is of the highest standard, as is everything Patek touches. The movement is a 324 calibre, and it is incredibly well crafted and decorated. It is also around 15 years old and is an automatic self-winding movement. The 324 operates at 4Hz, uses uni-directional winding, high tech silicon hairspring (for improved shock resistance), and precious stamped gears. The power reserve is 35-45hr, and the movement is slimmer than the Royal Oak by 1mm at 3.3mm thickness. This is a big reason why the Patek Nautilus watch is slimmer than the Royal Oak. This also makes it less resistant to wear, though. Furthermore, the Nautilus doesn’t have a hacking stop seconds to assist in setting the time. All that said, the movement is extremely accurate, at the top of its class in all of watchmaking.
Royal Oak – The operation is as straightforward as it gets with hours, minutes, seconds, and date controlled by the screw down crown. Furthermore, It has a quick set date reset system that adjusts at midnight and it has a hacking stop-seconds function.
Nautilus – The same applies to the Nautilus in terms of being straightforward with hours, minutes, seconds, and date functioning via the screw down crown. But, the date reset mechanism doesn’t change precisely at 12am (unlike the Royal Oak) and there isn’t a hacking stop seconds function when setting the time.
On the Wrist – Comfort
Royal Oak – Although the Royal Oak has a thicker case than the Nautilus, it is still a relatively slim sports watch. In regards to weight, it is heavier than the Nautilus. Moreover, it wears slightly larger than a typical 41mm watch. It would be most proportional on a >7 inch wrist. And from what most people say, it has a very comfortable bracelet.
Nautilus – Although the Royal Oak has a larger case at 41mm, and it is thicker, the Patek has a wider look on the wrist due to the cases “ears”. That said, the Nautilus is very slim and lightweight. Owners always brag about how comfortable the Nautilus is, both at the bracelet and case level.
Royal Oak – The Royal Oak won’t hold value like a Nautilus. In general AP doesn’t resell for as much as PP on the secondary market. Moreover, the Royal Oak’s retail price will be considerably more affordable at around $10,000 under (on average) a Nautilus.
Nautilus – The Nautilus is very, very high in demand with luxury watch enthusiasts. A Nautilus will hold its value much better than a Royal Oak. There is no question about this. As for retail price, a Nautilus is going to be, on average, around $10,000 more than a Royal Oak.
For this one, we are going to simply discuss the two watches together. Both the Royal Oak and the Nautilus typically have waiting lists at authorized dealers, as there are low production numbers. However, the Nautilus has a longer waiting list and often sells over the list price because of this.
Bang For Your Buck
It seems to us, and the watch community, both watches will get you the same bang for your buck. They are both incredible watches, and because of PP Nautilus’ resale value, this one is hard to determine.
Which One is More Sought-After?
It’s also clear that the Nautilus is more coveted. This can be simply proven due to the waiting lists being longer and the asking prices coming in over the list price. For some Royal Oak references, you can actually receive a slight discount from the asking price, and this just doesn’t happen with the Nautilus.
After reading everything above, we will let you decide which one is best. We can’t choose for you because when everything is said and done, the history, quality, and brand recognition of both are top of the line. So, it really comes down to which one do you favor?!
*This comparison was based on information taken from both Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, reviews from top watch journalists/enthusiasts, and anecdotal reviews from Royal Oak and Nautilus owners on luxury watch enthusiast forums.
Where can you purchase an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or Patek Philippe Nautilus?
You can purchases both of these iconic watches from Raymond Lee Jewelers and Diamonds by Raymond Lee in Boca Raton Florida.
Please contact us for pricing and availability.
Diamonds by Raymond Lee is Boca Raton’s most recommended sales and service centers for watches, diamonds, and high-end jewelry. Our business is family owned and operated. We have over 30 years of experience selling fine certified luxury watches and in that time we have built an unparalleled reputation for fair, quality dealings in South Florida.
Our goal is to meet the needs of our customers at our Boca Raton retail store and online and to provide our community with the best possible experience. We combine value, quality, and cost with the remarkable ability to meet and understand the needs of the people we serve.
If you live in Boca Raton, please feel free to drop by our showroom anytime!
Diamond By Raymond Lee’s Showroom in Boca Raton, Florida:
2801 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33431