Patek Philippe Nautilus vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – Must Read Guide

Both the Nautilus and the Royal Oak are the brainchildren of the legendary Gerald Genta. They’re often compared because of their numerous similarities; even their prices aren’t that different.

So, which of them is better? Here’s a comparison of their features and look that will help you decide the watch closer to your style.

The Patek Philippe Nautilus

The Nautilus was first introduced in 1976 and it remains to be one of the most sought-after watches today.
Before the Nautilus, Patek Philippe was known as a luxury brand that develops watches with sophisticated complications. Many of their products were made with gold, so the release of the all-stainless-steel, sporty-looking Nautilus sowed doubts on its addition to the brand’s collection.

The Nautilus didn’t instantly gain widespread recognition until a ladies’ size and a smaller version for men were released. However, its distinct octagon-like shape that looks like a ship’s porthole is what drew the crowd’s curiosity to it.

Pros:

  • High resale value
  • Easily visible date aperture
  • Sweeping second hand
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Water-resistant up to 120m
  • Power reserve of up to 45 hours

Cons:

  • Limited design variants
  • Scarce availability that it has a waiting list of orders
  • You may find the ‘ears’ digging to your skin in some instances

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

The Royal Oak is one of the most prominent watches ever made. Its design was inspired by a diver’s helmet and it was quite large for its time.
The watch was first introduced in BaselWorld 1972, but it didn’t gain immediate success then. It even garnered fierce criticism for its outrageous design. But as the years go by, collectors started appreciating its eccentricity and it didn’t take long before people started loving its avant-garde style.

Various models of the Royal Oak have been released throughout the years, consisting different complications, but retaining its iconic shape that made it popular in the first place.
The AP Royal Oak is popular even among celebrities. Jay-Z and Arnold Schwarzenegger are some of the icons seen wearing the esteemed model.

Pros:

  • Has a good selection of color and design variants
  • High resale value because of its popularity
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Bidirectional manual winding option
  • Power reserve of up to 40 hours

Cons:

  • Water-resistant up to 50m only
  • Thin hands
  • Date window can be hard to see in some instances

Head-to-Head: Nautilus vs Royal Oak

There are several iterations of the Nautilus and the Royal Oak since their release. To make the comparison fairer, we’ll be using the Royal Oak 15202ST and the Nautilus 5711/1A which are almost similar in size and build.

Case

The stainless steel case of the Nautilus measures 40mm wide and 8.3mm thin. It has a see-through case back made of sapphire crystal. There are other case variants for this model which include rose gold, white gold, and two-tone combinations.

On the other hand, the stainless steel case of the Royal Oak measures 39mm wide and 8.1mm – a bit smaller and thinner than the Nautilus. It also has a see-through case back made of sapphire crystal. The watch is also available in pink gold, two-tone, and diamond-studded variants.

Bezel

The bezels of the Nautilus and the Royal Oak may look similar at first glance, but they’re altogether different.

The Nautilus is famous for its bezel which sports a rounded octagonal shape with a more polished and classier look.

The Royal Oak has an octagonal bezel with 8 hexagonal screws on each corner. This gives the watch a more rugged but exquisite look that can be partnered with formal dress wear.

Crown

The Nautilus has a screw-down crown to ensure water doesn’t go inside the watch and damage the delicate parts inside.

The Royal Oak doesn’t have a screw-down crown, matching its mediocre water resistance rating.

Dial

The Nautilus has a monotone dial with embossed, horizontal ridges that resemble a ship’s porthole. Its hands and hour markers are made with gold and laced with luminescent coating. At the 3 o’clock position, you’ll find an easily readable date aperture.

The Royal Oak, on the other hand, sports what the brand calls a “Petite Tapisserie” pattern. Similar to the Nautilus, it also has gold applied on the hands and hour markers. Both components are also coated with luminescent material. The dial also has a date complication at the 3 o’clock position.

One thing you’ll instantly notice between the two models is the missing second hand on the AP Royal Oak. The Nautilus, on the other hand, has a sweeping second hand, retaining the watch’s standard look.

Movement

The Nautilus features a 30-jewel, caliber 26‑330 S C self-winding movement. It packs up to 45 hours of power reserve.

On the other end, the Royal Oak features a 36-jewel, calibre 2121 self-winding movement. It has a 40-hour power reserve and a bidirectional manual winding feature.

Strap

Both the Nautilus and the Royal Oak feature stainless steel bracelets. The Nautilus has a fold-over clasp, though, compared to the Royal Oak’s single clasp mechanism.

Water Resistance

The Nautilus has a water resistance rating of 120 meters. It far exceeds the 50-meter rating of the Royal Oak which is quite disappointing, considering it resembles a diver’s helmet.

Price

The price of the Nautilus and the Royal Oak doesn’t differ that much. Their prices range from $25,000 to $29,000.

Both watches are produced in limited numbers, so this can be one of the reasons behind their high costs.

Conclusion

Price, look, precision, quality – almost every aspect important in a watch is similar when you compare the Nautilus and the Royal Oak. The feel that each watch gives, though, is a bit different: the Patek Philippe Nautilus has a sporty but classy appeal, while the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has a more rugged but still elegant appeal. The choice all boils down to which look is more suited to your preference and style.

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