Virgil Abloh's Nautilus

Would You Dare to Mod a $50k Patek Philippe Watch? One Prominent Designer Did


April 30, 2019 Watches By

It’s very much like celebrity designer Virgil Abloh to take a covetable watch like the Patek Philippe Nautilus and tweak it. When Mr. Abloh posted a #wristshot to his Instagram Stories last week, it caught GQ’s eye and piqued watch fans’ curiosity. Though there’s still some mystery surrounding the watch, and there’s been no comment from either Abloh or the watchmaker, the timepiece in question appears to be an Annual Calendar reference 5726/1A modified by Mad Paris.

It looks like their work, and according to GQ, Mad Paris all but openly takes the credit. It requires some technical ability to work on expensive watches like Rolexes and Pateks, but there are a number of companies offering aftermarket coatings and other customizations. Bamford Watch Department, for example, is well-known for this type of work. This modified version goes further than a case coating with a custom dial featuring no indices and other components totally blacked-out. The quotation marks around the brand’s name are a signature of Abloh’s, and seem to double in meaning by questioning if this watch can really still be called a Patek Philippe.

Modifying watches like this can be risky and controversial, as it can devalue an expensive watch and certainly voids the manufacturer’s warranty. On the other hand, it can potentially increase a watch’s value as one-of-a-kind artwork, and some collectors consider unique, custom pieces to be the ultimate extravagance. The current version of the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726/1A released this year has a price of $45,930 from the brand, and services customizing luxury watches will further run you well into the thousands of dollars on top of that.

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