Audiophiles, B&W 's iconic Nautilus has a 30th birthday surprise
Bowers & Wilkins’ iconic Nautilus loudspeaker is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and the company is celebrating with a stunning one-of-a-kind iteration of its award-winning speaker.
Bowers & Wilkins have been at the forefront of high-performance audio tech since the company was founded in the UK in 1966. For more than 50 years, the company has designed and manufactured precision home speakers, headphones, and high-performance car audio systems known for their innovation and sound quality.
Nautilus is perhaps the most innovative – certainly, the most visually arresting – of all of Bowers & Wilkins’ creations. The handmade, ultra-high-end loudspeaker’s unique appearance has been turning heads for 30 years and was key in elevating the Bowers & Wilkins brand to the position of a world leader in audio.
To celebrate Nautilus’ 30th anniversary, Bowers & Wilkins have produced a unique pair of the speakers with a shimmering abalone pearl finish. Not only does the finish fit with Nautilus’ outward appearance – it’s the color of the internal shell of the marine mollusc that inspired its name – but pearl is the traditional gift given for a 30th wedding anniversary.
Thirty years ago, in 1993, Nautilus was revolutionary, introducing the concept of an exponentially tapered tube-to-loudspeaker design. Their tube design would win Bower & Wilkins the 2005 Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation and has been integrated into almost all of their speakers.
Back then, Laurence Dickie – ‘Dic’ to his friends – was called upon by the company’s founder, John Bowers, to design Nautilus. He worked alone to design the unconventional tapered tube and spiral design now recognizable by audiophiles worldwide.
Creating the one-of-a-kind Nautilus hasn’t changed over that time, but it’s a painstaking process. Handcrafting one speaker enclosure takes more than a week, which doesn’t include the time to sand, paint, and polish it to perfection.
“[E]very single one has to be made by hand,” said Bowers & Wilkins’ Mark Hazell, who’s been responsible for sanding hundreds of the loudspeakers. “You have to feel what you’re doing to get the shape.”
With all the attention to detail that goes into making the loudspeaker, it’s little wonder that demand for Nautilus outstrips supply. The current waiting list is around two years.
Thirty years on, Nautilus still holds a special place for the team at Bowers & Wilkins.
“While Bowers & Wilkins is committed to advancing the future of high-performance audio across all of our product portfolio, Nautilus remains of the highest importance to all of us,” said the company’s Brand President, Dave Sheen. “It readily communicates everything that is exceptional and Bowers & Wilkins and our no-holds-barred approach to creating the world’s best sounding, most beautifully designed audio products.”
Nautilus is available in three standard colors: midnight blue metallic, silver, and black. Bowers & Wilkins offers a custom finish service where, for an additional cost, they match the product’s color to any reference the customer chooses.
However, with the standard colors asking around £55,000 (US$70,000) per unit, you're going to need a decent birthday-present budget if you want to celebrate with Nautilus.
View our gallery for more speaker envy.
Source: Bowers & Wilkins
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