Top 5 Alternatives To The Now-Discontinued Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711
One of the age-old questions in our hobby is, “Are there genuine alternatives for some of the most sought-after watches?” At Fratello, we never back down from a challenge, having already provided alternatives to the venerable Rolex Datejust and GMT Master, as well as the iconic Omega Speedmaster and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. In this article, I am searching for five alternatives to the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 — possibly the hottest watch in the world right now. Can anything come close? I certainly think so!
Comparing any watch to something like the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 will always be a big ask. Not because that watch is so inherently “better” than every other watch out there, but reputationally, it fills some pretty big boots. The Nautilus 5711 has achieved legend status and is one of the few watches out there that genuinely deserves the “icon” moniker. Being an icon only serves to increase desirability, and, as we all know, getting a 5711 at retail was impossible. You had more chance of drawing blood from a stone. Now that Patek has officially discontinued the Nautilus 5711, it’s even harder and more expensive to get one. So, I have compiled the watches that I believe capture some of the sporty elegance of the Nautilus 5711 while also offering a generous helping of their own unique personalities.
Laventure Marine II (CHF 3,550 — Sold out)
Rob has been banging the drum about Laventure since day dot. People didn’t seem too interested for a long time, but now, many of those who had the chance to jump on board the Laventure train early but chose not to will rue the missed opportunity. The Laventure Marine case makes no effort to hide its inspiration. There are definite overtones of the Nautilus, yet there are enough differences to allow the Marine II to stand out on its own. I’d even go as far as to say I prefer the round bezel and dial and the integration of the bracelet with the lugs. The bracelet integration has a more utilitarian aesthetic. This is thanks to the sharper, angular geometry, in contrast to the rounded curves of the 5711.
The Nautilus is so famous thanks to how effortlessly it combines sportiness with elegance. In my opinion, the Laventure Marine II takes that and pushes both ends of the spectrum. The pièce de résistance is the beautiful gold dial. Thanks to their sharp lines and angles, the case and bracelet are less dressy than the 5711, but the dial itself is pure opulence. The top plate of the sandwich dial is made of solid 18K gold with a beautiful vertically brushed finish and cutouts that allow the sandwich lume application to shine through.
A watch is more than its movement, but something better would have been nice
The only thing that doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the billing is the Sellita SW200-1 caliber inside. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this movement, but I would’ve liked to have seen the more premium Sellita SW300 or ETA 2892 inside at this price point. That said, the movement is not enough reason to discount the Marine II. Indeed, the community also thought so, as it sold out in record time. Now, that would usually preclude me from adding the watch to a list like this. But as a brand, Laventure has developed a strong design language that perfectly fits this brief. Occasionally, one pops up on the pre-owned market, but word on the street is that Laventure has something pretty special planned for later this year. I do not doubt that it will continue to channel the spirit of the 5711. Keep your eyes and ears open!
Straum Opphav (From €829 — Available)
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken about Straum on numerous occasions. You know that feeling when you discover a brand and become enamored with what it’s doing? That’s how I am with the Norwegian brand in its infancy. I’m one of the few people who’s been fortunate enough to get to grips with the brand’s watches ahead of their first batch shipping date (which should be quite soon!). I was struck right away by how well made these watches were, and I’d had the Opphav in mind for this article long before I knew I was going to write it. My first impressions of the watch were excellent. From the moment I first held one, I knew that it was a watch that perfectly captured the spirit of the Nautilus 5711 while making a bold statement with its glorious dial.
The magic is in the dial
I adore this dial so much, and it gives the Opphav its own identity. While the case has an obvious Nautilus inspiration, it’s further down the evolutionary chain than the Laventure. The symmetrical “wing” on the left-hand side of the case is gone, and the bezel is significantly slimmer. A wise choice, as this allows Straum extra space to display the beautifully textured dial. I am a big fan of a well-done dial texture, and Straum has executed its chosen one perfectly. The rippling waves that emanate from the center of the dial play with the light in such a way that would make Grand Seiko proud. But the texture isn’t as delicate as the Japanese brand’s efforts. Instead, it is rawer and what I can only appropriately describe as “more Nordic” in design.
Straum’s introduction of its new bracelet elevated this watch to the next level and made it what I believe to be one of the early contenders for the watch of the year at this price point. I know that that’s a bold statement, but I stand by it. The bracelet’s mid-links subtly reference the non-circular semi-display case back, and the taper allows the angular case edges to flow around the wrist. A good bracelet design is tough to crack, but Straum has seemingly done so on its first attempt. Take a closer look at the Opphav on the Straum website.
Grand Seiko SBGA413 “Shunbun” (€6,700 — Available)
I knew that Grand Seiko was an obvious choice when putting together this list. Choosing precisely which model, however, was not as simple. That is purely because the Japanese brand has so many watches which could be excellent alternatives to the Nautilus 5711’s combination of sportiness and elegance. Initially, my mind wandered to the SGBA407 “Skyflake”. The beautiful powdery blue dial could offer a nice alternative to the unobtainable Tiffany-dialed Nautilus. Sadly, I felt it was not allowed on the list without a natural bracelet option. There’s a bracelet in the Grand Seiko collection that fits the case, but it’s not one designed for this specific watch, so DENIED. In the end, I decided to go for the stunning SBGA413 “Shunbun”.
I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve here, as the SBGA413 is another fine example of glorious dial texture. Grand Seiko describes it as “cherry blossom petals scattered by the wind covering the surface of a river.” Very poetic, but it is indeed a work of art. Interested parties also benefit from the incredible Spring Drive technology, courtesy of the caliber 9R65 whirring away inside.
Elegance > Sportiness
Unlike the previous two watches on this list, the SBGA413 has a case that looks nothing like the Nautilus. That’s because the case of the SBGA413 traces its roots back to stunning 62GS, first released in 1966. Meanwhile, Gerald Genta’s Nautilus didn’t see the light of day until a decade later in 1976. So, why does this watch make the list if there’s no obvious inspiration on display? Well, I guess it depends on your definition of the word “alternative”. For me, to qualify as an alternative, I don’t require visual similarities, but I do require the watches to exude similar personalities. In this case, the SGBA413 and the 5711 would have been the best of friends. Grand Seiko’s take on sporty elegance has always favored the elegance part as the key ingredient. In my opinion, Patek took the opposite approach with the Nautilus, with the marginal focus being placed on the sporty aspect.
Chopard Alpine Eagle (€12,200 — Available)
Now, you could argue that the Chopard Alpine Eagle is possibly the most deserving entrant on this list so far, purely as it’s the first to have a genuinely integrated bracelet. I’m not sure I’d agree with that one hundred percent, but nevertheless, it’s a point I understand. It possesses one of the key defining characteristics that made the 5711 so damn popular.
Not my first choice
When Chopard first introduced the modern interpretation of its Alpine Eagle back in 2019, I immediately wrote it off as another Genta-inspired bandwagon design. Sure enough, it has that integrated bracelet and a deep blue dial. On paper, it’s straight out of the 5711 playbook. However, after some wrist time in an AD in Zürich, the Alpine Eagle quickly changed my opinion. Had I not gone in on a whim and allowed the staff there to press it into my hands despite my weak protests, you likely wouldn’t be reading about it right now. Isn’t it funny how things turn out?
The 41mm stainless steel case wore very nicely on the wrist indeed, aided by the seamless integration of its supremely comfortable bracelet. With its bullion-shaped links, the bracelet effortlessly wraps around the wrist with good link articulation. Those mid-links seem to be a reasonably divisive feature, and not everyone I know particularly likes them, but I’m a fan. It’s something different in a sea of carbon copies. As you can probably imagine, the dial drew me in thanks to the gentle swirling of its sunburst texture. I am nothing if not consistent. I’m not a huge fan of Roman numerals, so that’s one dial aspect I wasn’t so keen on. But let’s be honest — it’s the dial that captivates the majority of your attention. I’d love to see this in an orange-dialed version, and I know Brandon would love to see it in purple as well!
Czapek Antarctique Passage De Drake (€19,000 — Available)
The final watch on this list is one that many of you should be somewhat familiar with — the Czapek Antactique Passage De Drake. However, I did not take the easy route and select the Fratello Edition. That model in that guise is sold out, never to be made again. However, Czapek has some other beautiful models which use the dial layout that Rob designed for the Fratello Edition. While initially a Fratello exclusive, Czapek has since absorbed the layout into its regular collection as the brand loved it that much. That’s high praise, don’t you think? Instead of the Viridian Green dial of the Fratello Edition, I have chosen the new salmon-dialed variant.
Going hands-on makes all the difference
Having been fortunate enough to have handled and worn several different Czapek Antarctique Passage De Drake watches over the last year (including the two latest dial colors back at Geneva Watch Days in 2021), I can happily say that they were some of the best watch wearing experiences of my life. Anyone who owns or has worn a Czapek Antarctique will confirm three things with you. Firstly, the integrated bracelet is one of the best in the business. It combines sleek finishing with excellent comfort. It doesn’t get much better than this! Secondly, the SXH5 movement is a thing of beauty. It’s difficult not to lose track of time while appreciating all the hand-finishing and complex architecture.
The final point is not a specific aspect, but rather, how every element comes together to present such an incredibly luxurious wearing experience. Every component works in harmony with the next, creating a watch with such perfect balance, visual execution, and size. Most of the watches on this list have been at significantly lower price points than the 5711, but the Czapek comes close. It is also the watch that comes closest to genuinely replicating and perhaps even beating the 5711 at its own game.
Is there really an alternative to the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711?
So there we have five genuine alternatives to the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711. I tried to select watches that do this in different ways and represent different price points. Are there any watches you feel I have missed? Or do you think it was a foolhardy activity to even attempt to compare to one of the most iconic watches of all time? Let me know in the comments below!