When Patek Philippe first tasked designer Gerald Genta with the creation of the Nautilus, all former conventions went out of the window. To some, the creation of a shockingly sporty steel watch by a traditional luxury brand like Patek seemed almost grotesque. What’s more, it brazenly went against the trends of its time by putting a sophisticated, extra-thin movement into a steel case, rather than gold.
When the Nautilus 3700/1A was introduced for the first time in 1976, it didn’t exactly create a storm. Rather, its porthole-shaped case, integrated bracelet, and steel, sporty composition well and truly went against the grain. Yet today, it is the most coveted steel watch in the world.
Ever since Patek Philippe reissued the Nautilus in 2006, in the form of the Ref. 5711/1A, it has been breaking records. Its listing price alone stands at around 29,080 euros, and nevertheless, it is neither available from the manufacture nor certified dealers. What’s more, the watchmaker has now even announced that the 5711/1A is to be discontinued. The painstakingly long waiting list can only offer even the most fervent optimists a mere glimmer of hope. If you have already saved the money, in the hope of becoming a member of the exclusive club for Nautilus owners, then you need to have patience. If you are not on a waiting list yet, you may well simply have to miss out.
To avoid you impulsively making a rash, nonsensical purchase with your hard-earned money out of sheer frustration, we at Swisswatches have created the “Nautilus Alternative Collection”. We hope that it will serve as inspiration for an alternative collection of beautiful timepieces one can purchase – all for the total price of 27,500 euros.
We asked out team what their dream watch collection would look like.
- Not limited
- Swiss made
- Mechanical movement
- Four watches at least
- Maximum spending 29,000 euros
Chopard 36 Automatic Happy Sport Edelstahl – 36.0 mm
REF. 278559-3002 | 9,160 euros
I discovered Chopard’s Happy Sport model at my first ever Baselworld, and was completely blown away by the unusually beautiful sports watch. My favourite design features include the perfectly round shape of the 36mm steel case, the four crown-like screws on the lugs, and, of course, the creative presentation of the playful diamonds. Furthermore, it even has a sapphire crystal caseback. The wearer can admire the automatic calibre with a date function, which provides a more than respectable power reserve of 42 hours.
Oris Big Brown Bronze Pointer Date – 36.00 mm
Ref: 01 754 7749 3167-07 5 17 66BR | 1,800 euros
I am slowly but surely getting a reputation for my unadulterated love of Oris – partly caused by their role model status within the watch industry in terms of sustainability and conscientiousness – but also, of course, for their watch designs. In my opinion, the Oris Big Brown Bronze Pointer Date is simply perfection. Unafraid of being different, it combines a pilot-like green dial with a glowing and refined 36 mm bronze case, presented on a sustainably sourced leather strap. Oris’ automatic-winding pointer date movement (with a Sellita base) has a power reserve of 38 hours and a frequency of 4 Hz.
Blancpain Villeret Quantième Phases de Lune – 29.2 mm
Ref: 6106 1127 55A | 9,800 euros
If I were to buy a Blancpain watch, it would simply have to feature the intricate moonphase the brand is known for. I love the fact that different models display the moonphase “lady”, so to say, serenely displaying different expressions. It’s an entertaining yet classy feature. On the Villeret Quantieme Phases de Lune, she’s sleeping soundly. This 29.2 mm steel model, powered by the calibre 913QL, integrates a moonphase, date, day/night indication, plus hours, minutes and seconds. It has a 40-hour power reserve.
Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier – 36.6 mm
Ref. W6920046 | 6,050 euros
Once again, I don’t hide my feelings about this brand; Cartier’s watchmaking division has a lot to offer fashion and horology fans alike. The unisex 36.6 mm steel Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier seamlessly combines French refinement with Swiss high quality and even integrates an automatic calibre, the self-winding Cartier calibre 076. The bold and beautiful piece has a power reserve of approximately 38 hours, and beats at 4 Hz.
Tissot Tradition Automatic Small Second – 40.0 mm
Ref: T063.428.33.038.00 | 800 euros
Like many horology fans, my first watch was a Tissot – after all, they stand for the basic requirements of a decent timepiece; well-made, attractive, and can even be passed down to the next generation. The 40 mm Tissot Tradition Automatic Small Second has it all; an automatic movement (visible via the sapphire crystal caseback) with a date function and 38-hour power reserve, a thoughtful design, which places small seconds at 6 o’clock, and special details, such as the decorated central part of the dial. The dial is protected by domed sapphire crystal. Finally, it’s priced at only 800 euros. What’s not to love?
Total budget EUR 27,610
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duoface – 47.0 mm x 28.3 mm
Ref. 3988482 | 10.800 euros
JLC’s Reverso is not only a true watch icon, but also, for me, one of the most charming watches ever. It radiates this incredibly sovereign sense of elegance, is masculine without being loud, and its design is both simple and unique. My favorite from the now-extensive collection is without doubt the Reverso Tribute Duoface with a blue dial on a blue calfskin strap. Blue is so versatile and can be combined with almost anything – if you want it to be even more elegant, just turn the case (Reverso) over, and a silver dial with a beautiful Clous de Paris décor appears. Both sides display different time zones, driven by the manual manufacture calibre 854A/2, with a 42-hour power reserve. The typical square Reverso case has a diameter of 47.0 x 28.3 mm.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII – 40.0 mm
Ref. IW327015 | 5,650 euros
IWC’S Mark XVIII is a pilot’s watch in its purest form. The design is reduced to its practicality, with large Arabic numerals, the typical triangle at 12 o’clock, and striking luminous hands. This is probably also exactly what fascinates me about this watch. Add to that the bold design of the case, with its perfect proportions of 40 mm diameter and height of 11 mm. For me, however, only one version comes into question: the black dial edition on a stylish stainless-steel link bracelet. Inside the watch is the automatic calibre 35111 (base Sellita SW300-1) with a 42 hour-power reserve.
Tudor Black-Bay – 36.0 mm
Ref. M79500-0007 | 2,740 euros
The Black Bay is actually a diver’s watch, which was revived in 2012 as a tribute to TUDOR’s Submariner models of the 1950s. This is why they usually have the typical diving ring on the rotating bezel. However, TUDOR also offers simple Black Bay models that – apart from the ever-increasing hype surrounding the Black Bay 58 models – lead a rather shadowy existence, and this is completely wrong in my opinion. Less is sometimes genuinely more; the Black Bay 36 is discreetly sporty and chic at the same time. It has a satin-finished, polished stainless-steel case with a mechanical hand-wound movement and a 38-hour power reserve. Even though it is not a diver’s watch, it can withstand a water depth of 150 m. Incidentally, according to the company, the name “Black Bay” stands for a “fictitious, hidden bay whose secrets you will only discover over time, step by step.” Perhaps this also applies to this model.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph – 42.0 mm
Ref. MB000014 | 3,990 euros
There are a lot of rumours swirling around the 1858 Montblanc line – for example, they that are inspired by the tool watches of the 1920s and 30s, donned by daredevil explorers and extreme mountaineers. But what convinces me as a customer is the fact that it is simply a damn cool watch – primarily visually. And when you add to that longstanding watchmaking expertise, the story is actually already perfect for me. After all, realistically speaking, nobody who buys the collection is going to the North Pole to do research or get stuck in a rock face, they’re getting stuck in rush hour traffic. Although Montblanc has actually made a name for itself as a company for writing instruments, they made a clever coup in 2006 when they took over the more than 160-year-old manufacturer Minerva. Since then, they have also been taken seriously as a watch brand. In the 1858 Automatic Chronograph, an MB 25.11 automatic calibre ticks away, with a power reserve of around 42 hours. The 42 mm case is equipped with a sapphire crystal in “box style”. The black dial shows the chronograph function in bicompax-design, with central second and sharp-looking cathedral hands.
Longines Heritage – 38.5 mm
Ref. L4.7220.127.116.11 | 1,480 euros
Whenever I wear this watch, I feel a bit like Josh Brolin in Gangster Squad. The film is set in the 1940s, when gangs of gangsters were running rampant in Los Angeles. But the plot of the film doesn’t do much for the story here, because it’s more about the perfectly tailored suits, shirts with spearhead collars and retro ties that Brolin and Co. have had cut to fit in the film. Brolin wears a vintage watch in the film – unfortunately I never found out which one it was. But it could just as well be the vintage-inspired Heritage of Longines – and it might not be a coincidence, because the modern models are inspired by pilot’s watches from the 1930s. The silver dial, with its gold-plated hands and pointed applied indices, seems to come from another era. On the other hand, calibre L615 is ultra-modern: an automatic movement with a power reserve of 42 hours. The case measures 38.5 mm in diameter.
Breitling Navitimer 8 Automatic 41 – 41.0 mm
Ref. A17314101C1A1 | 3,900 euros
Breitling is no longer the brand it had been for the past 30 years. It is now exactly what it is, as it were – a brand that has much more to offer than only the intimidatingly striking pilot’s watch with slide rule. In the meantime, long-forgotten lines such as the Premier or Chronomat are being revitalised. My highlight since the new (old) Breitling appeared as a modern successor to the legendary Breitling pilot’s watch, and is now called Aviator 8. It evokes Breitling’s pilot’s watches of the 1930s and 1940s. This fashionable timepiece – again with a blue dial, of course – features the COSC-certified Breitling calibre 17 chronometer movement with bidirectional rotor winding and a power reserve of approximately 38 hours. The case has a diameter of 41 mm.
Total budget EUR 28,560
OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra 150 M Co-Axial Master Chronometer – 41.0 mm
Ref. 18.104.22.168.01.001 | 5,600 euros
For me, there is almost no better watch for everyday use than OMEGA’s Aqua Terra. After all, a day in the concrete jungle brings with it some unforeseeable challenges where I have to rely on my watch. The Aqua Terra is not only outwardly quite versatile, but also technically up to facing almost any adversity. The elegant 41 mm case is water-resistant to 150 m and therefore easily brushes off a trip home in the pouring rain. The sporty design suits up well with an elegant “teak” dal, inspired by the deck planks of noble ships. The most useful complication in everyday life for me personally is also onboard; a date window at 6 o’clock. The METAS-certified Calibre 8900 movement offers a solid power reserve of 60 hours and is resistant to just about anything that can be set against the watch. One point of criticism I do have – I simply cannot decide between the steel bracelet or rubber strap.
Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 – 42.0 mm
Ref. AB0118221G1P1 | 7,700 euros
I’m not exactly the Breitling type. But unlike the instrument-like pilot’s watches Breitling is known for, the Premier B01 Chronograph 42 stands out for style and understatement. The stainless-steel case measures a stately 42 mm, but this does not detract from the elegance of the timepiece. I like the “panda” look of the dial; it bears two subdials – a small seconds at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. There is also a date at 6 o’clock, an important feature for me. The Breitling B01 calibre is chronometer-certified and offers a 70-hour power reserve. The chronograph is implemented with a column wheel and vertical clutch, which significantly improves the use of the complication. The watch is presented on a black alligator-skin strap secured by a folding clasp. One could almost say that the Premier is Breitling’s dress watch.
Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Calendar – 40.0 mm
Ref. 4148420 | 11,400 euros
This model from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Collection impresses me with its elegantly simple design, the integration of an annual calendar, and the romantic moonphase complication. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar is ideal for a long autumn walk at the weekend (men should make use of any opportunity to wear a watch), as well as for more sophisticated occasions. Two discreet windows at 12 o’clock display the day on the left, and the month on the right. The central hand with a red tip points to the respective date on the date ring surrounding the dial. Between the 15th and 16th of the month, the hand skips the small second and moonphase indicators to avoid blocking them. Inside the watch is the 866AA automatic calibre, which offers a 70-hour power reserve and is extensively tested before the timepiece leaves the manufacture. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar is worn on a brown calfskin strap, which is characterised by its smooth feel and warm colour.
Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400
Ref. 01 400 7763 4135-07 8 24 09PEB | 3,000 euros
Whenever I get a sense of wanderlust, I simply strap the Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400 around my wrist. Its deep blue dial transports me to the beach of my next summer vacation at the speed of light. This diver’s watch has a 43.5 mm stainless-steel case and a dial that reminds me of the glimmering blue waves of the sea. When the time for travelling finally comes around again, the watch will of course be coming along – not least because it is water-resistant to 300 m and therefore able to survive a plunge into the Mediterranean waters without any problems. Recently, Oris introduced the new automatic in-house calibre 400, which is already built into this watch. It offers a strong power reserve of up to five days, so the watch can even stay in the drawer for a weekend. It is also resistant to magnetic fields and only requires maintenance every 10 years. Oris has also equipped the new Aquis with a quick-change system for the bracelet, so that a rubber strap can be attached quickly and without tools.
Total budget EUR 27,700
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds 42.9 x 25.5 mm
Ref. 2458420 | 8,850 euros
As a dress watch fanatic, the first watch in my collection must be elegant. And to make sure that it does not become an ordinary dress watch, I chose Jaeger-LeCoultre’s icon; the Reverso. It is often underestimated, but brings so much history with it. The Reverso was originally developed for the polo players of the British Army in India. By turning the case over, the dial could be protected from unwanted blows. I chose this version because the size (42.9 x 25.5 mm) is optimal for a dress watch. I also love the exciting dynamics that the small rectangular second hand creates by continuing the geometric lines of the silver dial. The black dial on the other side is perfect for any occasion. This mechanical style icon runs on a hand-wound 854A/2 calibre and has a 42-hour power reserve.
Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Auto – 38.0 mm
Ref. H38475751 | 875,00 Euro
The Reverso by Jaeger-LeCoultre is merely for special occasions. Considering my passion for dress-watches, I also need a more affordable model for everyday use in my collection. The American Classic Intra-Matic is just perfect and in my opinion one of the best mechanical watches below 1.000 euros. It’s a smart looking watch, yet not overly elegant and can be also worn with a more casual outfit like jeans and sneakers. Less is definitely more. The yellow PVD-coating on the case and the absence of a seconds hand gives the watch a dressy look. However, the date window and the puristic leather strap highlight the modern character of the watch. The American Classic Intra-Matic is powered by the self-winding ETA2892-2 calibre with 50 hours power reserve.
OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer – 42.0 mm
Ref. 22.214.171.124.01.001 | 5,100 euros
So after my first shopping trip, I still have a little more than 19,000 euros left. Even though I am a fan of dress watches, I need some variety in my collection. Next, I will be taking a diver’s watch, and in the price segment below 5,000 euros (after all, the collection should consist of as many watches as possible) OMEGA is certainly a pioneer. Not least because it is the only brand to industrially manufacture a movement with a Co-Axial escapement. OMEGA thus replaced a tried and tested Swiss lever escapement technology which has the advantage of reducing friction – and thus wear – within the movement, which ultimately contributes positively to the accuracy of the watch. The Seamaster is a sporty and casual watch, and ever since Pierce Brosnan had it on his wrist as James Bond, it has had this irresistible coolness factor. After all, he was always my favorite James Bond. The Seamaster Diver will definitely be my Daily Rocker.
Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384 – 37.0 mm
Ref. 03.A384.400/21.M384 | 8,300 euros
A chronograph should also not be missing from my collection.This is where Zenith comes into play, more precisely the El Primero, because it probably stands for one of the most important chronograph movements in history. In 1969, Zenith presented its “El Primero” movement, the first automatic high-frequency chronograph. The case design of the new Revival A383, with a diameter of 37 mm, is almost identical to the original. The so-called “Leiter” (“ladder”) steel bracelet by Gay Frères has also been included in this reproduction. I love the design and style of this era and therefore the watch has to be part of my collection. The now modernized El Primero chronograph movement with column wheel offers a power reserve of 50 hours.
Longines Avigation BigEye – 39.0 mm
Ref. L2.8126.96.36.199 | 2,500 euros
When it comes to pilot watches, brands like IWC, Breitling or Zenith usually come to mind. Longines has always tended to fly below the radar here, although it has been developing numerous special models for civil and military aviation from the outset. One of their most prominent followers of this period was pioneer Charles A. Lindbergh, who, although he did not wear Longines on his first solo flight from New York to Paris, later commissioned the manufacturer to develop a watch tailored to his needs. This resulted in the Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch. Longines’ Avigation BigEye is also inspired by a historic pilot’s chronograph from the 1930s and is my favourite model in Longines’ extensive range of pilot’s watches. It impressively combines vintage design elements with modern watchmaking. The large minute counter at three o’clock (hence the name BigEye) once again underlines the practicality of the earlier pilot’s watches; oversized, simple, optimally readable. The L688 ratchet calibre was exclusively produced by Longines. Incidentally, the watch won the 2017 Grand Prix de L’Horlogerie (GPHG) in the “Revival” category as the best new edition of a historic model. Thanks to its attractive price, I was able to add a pilot’s watch to my collection.
NORQAIN Freedom 60 Cream in Bronze – 39 mm
Ref. NNZ2001ZA/C206 | 2,730 euros
For a while, I struggled with how to invest the remaining 2,800 euros in a sensible way. A TUDOR Black Bay 36 could probably be put in at this point, but I decided to invest in a new, young company from within Swiss watchmaking heaven. Although NORQAIN was only founded in 2018, it has already aroused my curiosity and attention in terms of design and quality. I like the way it strives for the highest standards of its movements, maintains respect for watchmaking, yet speaks its own design language. For me, the Freedom 60 in Cream is one of the most exciting models in the collection. At first glance, the watch is retro, but a closer look reveals its innovative touch – for example, the tiny yellow squares on the indices; a small detail that makes a great visual impact. The cream-coloured dial is protected by a domed sapphire crystal. Inside the 39 mm bronze case ticks the NORQAIN calibre NN20/1, developed exclusively for NORQAIN by the movement manufacturer Kenissi. It also suits me very well given I have always wanted to see how a bronze case changes
Total budget EUR 28,355
OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Moonphase Chronograph – 44.25 mm
Ref. 304.30.44.52.01.001 | 10,300 euros
For my collection, I had some extra criteria to be fulfilled if possible. A chronograph in bi-compax design was one of them. I therefore chose OMEGA’s Speedmaster Moonwatch Moonphase because it simply but successfully combines an incredibly strong story with exceptional quality. It is still one of the most popular sports chronographs in the world after so many years since its launch, and the design has changed only marginally. Over the years, however, the quality has reached a whole new level. OMEGA has its movements certified as Master Chronometers, which means that they have to undergo strict METAS testing. I was already able to experience what the watches have to go through at OMEGA’s testing centre in their new manufacture. Even after a suspension of around 6,000 Gauss, the movement was pretty much unaffected. Ultimately, it is said to be anti-magnetic even up to 15,000 Gauss. Anyone can track the test result of their watch online. But it’s also the small details that I appreciate about this Speedmaster Moonwatch Moonphase. For example, the tiny footprints of Neil Armstrong on the moonphase, or the arrangement of the subdial counters as a bi-compax design in an extremely balanced combination with the date and the moonphase. The sports watch is driven by the OMEGA 9904 calibre with silicon balance-spring and two mainspring barrels positioned one behind the other, which provide a power reserve of 60 hours.
Cartier Santos de Cartier – 35.1 x 41.9 mm
Ref. CA400031 | 6,450 euros
My dream collection should not be lacking a dress watch. And since they do not always have to be round, the Santos de Cartier, with its rectangular case, offers a nice change. It works just as well with a leather strap as a metal bracelet. Furthermore, the Quick-Change-Strap-System makes it easy to change the strap or bracelet without having to take out the toolbox. The case (35.1 x 41.9 mm) is water-resistant to 10 bar and houses the manufacture calibre 1847 MC, with a power reserve of 42 hours. A dress watch like this is always sure to be a talking point.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince” – 43.0 mm
Ref. IW377714 | 5,900 euros
Two other priorities for my collection were a pilot watch, and a watch with a blue dial. Both features are superbly combined in the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph in the “Le Petit Prince” edition, as it showcases a blue dial within a classic instrument design. It is reduced to the essentials, leaving it characterised by striking luminous hands and large luminous numerals. At 12 o’clock, there is a marking triangle, which should help pilots in the cockpit to better read the time even at a fleeting glance. Hardly any other brand stands as much for pilot watches as IWC. The company produced its first pilot’s watches for civil aviation as early as the mid-1930s. Even back then, they were particularly resistant to temperature fluctuations (in the range of -40 to +40 degrees Celsius) and were anti-magnetic. The automatic calibre 79320 of the modern Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is also protected against magnetic fields by a soft iron inner case. In my opinion, the 43 mm case diameter is also ideal for a pilot’s watch.
Tudor Black Bay Bronze – 43.0 mm
Ref. M79250BA-0002 | 3,870 euros
Again, I can definitely kill two birds with one stone with the Black Bay Bronze, because a diver’s watch should definitely be in my collection as well – as should a model with a bronze case. The Black Bay Bronze offers both. I love the combination of bronze with the grey-green dial and the matching rotating bezel. The NATO strap features gold stitching to match the bronze alloy. I was able to wear and test the model extensively in Japan for two weeks last year. After two days by the sea in Okinawa, I could already see how the colour of the case changed. The shiny bronze slowly turned into a matte look. The patina developed from day to day, with the result being that I was reluctant to give it back. Even when the journey in Japan came to an end, I wanted to know how the journey continued with the patina. The Black Bay Bronze runs on the calibre MT5601 – “MT” stands for Manufacture Tudor, meaning it was developed and manufactured in-house. Just like a pilot’s watch, a diver’s watch should not be too dainty, so the 43 mm case diameter is a good size.
Longines Heritage Classic – 38.5 mm
Ref. L2.8188.8.131.52 | 2,000 euros
Longines is the oldest registered Swiss watch brand and I have great respect for its vast history. A Longines watch is therefore indispensable in my collection – and since I am fascinated by watch designs of the 30s and 40s, the Heritage collection fits my needs perfectly. I really wanted to have a purist watch without date in the collection – time display and small second at 6 o’clock only. I wanted to have a watch that is modern but vintage inspired. And that is exactly what the Longines Heritage Classic stands for. For me, the dial design stands in the forefront. Just like the original model, it has this striking “sector”-design with a silver, two-tone finishing; opaline centre and circular, brushed minute track. The small second display is well positioned and keeps the dial dynamic somehow. The hands are original and made of blued steel. It has the charm of days gone by and is the perfect size for a vintage-inspired watch with 38.5 mm. The modern automatic calibre L893 offers a power reserve of 64 hours.