Friday, May 06, 2005

Nautilus, Royal Oak, Overseas - Hideous and Beautiful Simultaneously?

Look at Angelica Houston, or Lauren Bacall; incredibly beautiful and yet with a turn of their head or change of light, somehow strangely ugly at the same time. Some things can be so sensitive to how you look a them and yet you know they can be beautiful - so why don't you like them?

Referring to the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Vacheron Constantin Overseas (222)*, Robert-Jan Broer wrote,
“Why is it that some watches are just beloved by advanced watch collectors, and most other people mainly just hate them?…..These are watches which you don’t like at first glance; you have to grow into them. Your watch knowledge has to climb to a certain level before you’re able to see and evaluate the beauty and quality of these kind of watches.”
(*All Genta designs by the way.)

I have to agree. I discussed this with Thomas Mao the founder of The PuristS last year, and I said that I, for one, really could not get on with the look of the Royal Oak, let alone the Offshore! He remarked that he’d “heard that a lot” and yet many who had said that had come to own one of the above watches in later life apparently having U-turned their earlier unenthusiastic aesthetic opinion.

As for me, I’ve never really liked the above watches and have to say I still don’t. Only perhaps less aggressively. Some angles and views do appeal (like with Angelica and Lauren). So that means I obviously have to conclude that I have not yet attained the required “level” to “see the beauty of these kind of watches!” But maybe I'm on my way....? Maybe they will grow on me, we shall see, but I wonder how many readers there are out there who share my aesthetic reticence towards these watches. I also honestly wonder how many worship the name on the dial more than the watch (see previous blog article!), or wear these having been programmed or led to aspire to them. It is fascinating to ponder the latter comment in light of an apparently loose lipped or perhaps unashamedly arrogant watch company CEO who said to Jaw of The PuristS, “We decide what is fashion. Consumers want and need the guidance from us.”

The Nautilus, Royal Oak and Overseas are clearly good designs I just don’t really like them personally. One thing is for sure, they are at least, balanced, striking and unique even if they don’t flick my switch and you only have to look at a derivative design like the Girard Perregaux Laureato (that looks like a toned down Royal Oak with a Nautilus bracelet) to realise they are something that is a good design even if you don’t like it. It is a similar case for the design perfection of the Jaeger LeCoultre RDM as opposed to the similar, but flawed (dare I say, hideous?) VC and Zenith 'RDM' efforts.

So maybe one day... Mmmmm that new Nautilus (3712/1a) is looking more attractive by the minute.

Click for a super hi res pic from AlbertoS and some more here by Suitbert Walter.


Rich said...

Intriguing. . . When I first became interested in watches I loved the Overseas, I'm only now starting to like the Royal Oak, and I have yet to embrace the Nautilus. Personal tastes are always changing though right?

Chris Launder said...

I never liked , never aspired , to a Royal Oak , until 2 months ago when I tried one on for the 1st time . A simple 2 hand model with date and sapphire back . the moment I put it on my wrist , the integrated ' rightness ' of the overall watch/bracelet/bezel design package had me instantly hooked...but I doubt that will ever happen with the Offshore , to me its just ' over the top ' .

Coronet said...


Do you think the Genta-designed IWC Ingenieur in the same league?


Velociphile said...

Hi Coronet, Well aesthetically why not?, certain versions are attractive and it's got a technical attribute that make it unique (e.g. super antimag), but without a manufacture movement, not in the same league. (Maybe the later ones with the JLC mvt count).

I think you can see Genta running out of steam as he goes through them and in many respects the first (R.Oak) is the best.


Guyot said...

Horses for courses and all that.

Very interesting take, thanks. I love the Overseas and have since the first day I saw it. It is one of the favorites of my collection.

And yet - I am unmoved by the RO (Offshore included) and I think the Nautilus is just plain ugly.

I'm glad there are so many choices for so mant tastes.

Anonymous said...

I really come-in late. But being an owner of many serious watches, the article above really speaks large part of truth! There IS a growing stage into these expensive toys. And the "war" always triggered by "which better over the other". This is pretty stupid, until you have reached a level knowing how to appreciate them. I can say they are all exquisit! If within your ability, you will probably own them all, especially if you have tried them on wrist.