When talking about luxury watches, brands like Omega, Rolex, Tudor, and the like are the ones that typically come to mind. However, people who are invested and familiar with watchmaking and Haute Horlogerie know that there is so much more to this world than just these few big names. Watch manufacturers like Audemar Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, and Patek Philippe have been around for over a century now and are just as highly regarded by watch connoisseurs. Patek Philippe, for example, offers a wide catalogue of timepieces that are deeply coveted by serious collectors. If you’re interested, stick around, because we will be talking about anything and everything related to Patek Philippe’s Aquanaut collection, which is one of the most sought-after ranges out there.
Patek Philippe: A Brief History
This Swiss brand’s origin dates back to 1839 when Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek founded their own company, called Patek, Czapek & Cie. Though their business was met with success, the two entrepreneurs ended up parting ways due to increasing differences. In 1844, Patek met horologist Jean Adrien Philippe at the Industrial Exposition in France where Philippe had just been awarded bronze for his innovations involving a keyless winding and hand-setting system. That chance encounter led to them eventually becoming business partners as they cofounded Patek Philippe & Co., starting a journey in which they would change the watchmaking game forever.
Being one of the most highly regarded timepiece manufacturers to ever exist, it is only expected that Patek Philippe has had its fair share of milestones and breakthroughs through the decades. From patents for numerous innovations to countless firsts in horological world records, the Swiss brand has been a strong and steady presence in the luxury watchmaking world since the beginning. This is precisely why Patek Philippe is considered as a part of Haute Horlogerie’s holy trinity, alongside Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. At present, Patek has 9 collections with over 150 models in its current catalogue, one of which is the exceptional Patek Philippe Aquanaut lineup.
All About the Aquanaut Collection
Patek Philippe’s Aquanaut collection is one with a very deep history. Today, virtually any watch from this line would fall into the category of being highly sought-after, but this wasn’t always the case. One could describe the Aquanaut line as a work in progress for many years before it became the iconic collection it is now.
Let’s begin by talking about a different (but equally iconic) Patek Philippe collection called the Nautilus, which was launched in the early 70s. Those familiar with luxury timepieces probably know that the Aquanaut has, from its inception, been associated with this nautical-inspired range. Back then, owning a Nautilus guaranteed you a spot at fancy yacht parties hosted by the elite. It was regarded by many as the perfect representation of a luxury sports watch.
At this point, you’re probably wondering: why make a new collection if the Nautilus was doing so well in the first place? Well, come the 1990s, a phenomenon called the dot-com boom occurred amidst a global recession. During this period of time, many people started leaning towards technology and the Internet to earn money. Lots of young millionaires emerged and they were more than willing to spend their newfound fortunes on anything and everything luxury.
With this shift in global fortunes, Patek Philippe saw both a challenge and an opportunity. They wanted to make the most out of the situation by creating a new collection that would bring the youth to Patek Philippe. Following the success of the Nautilus, the Swiss brand drew inspiration from it, eventually leading to the birth of the Aquanaut.
The Aquanaut started out as Patek Philippe’s attempt at wooing a younger market, and to some degree it was quite successful. The original Aquanaut was designed to be nothing short of casual, sporty, youthful, and luxurious; every aspect of it was immediately appealing to its intended younger audience. That being said, however, the Swiss brand knew that keeping the attention of their longtime patrons was just as important. Unfortunately, many older collectors and watch connoisseurs were less impressed. They saw the Aquanaut as a mere variation of the Nautilus, but without Gerald Genta’s prestigious signature.
Come 1998, Patek Philippe released a new variant of the Aquanaut with the reference number 5065. Many perceive this model as the one that had a broader market appeal and successfully attracted a wider variety of people compared to the original. In the next years that followed, Patek Philippe continued to expand the Aquanaut collection by releasing different pieces under the said range. Eventually, it became just as iconic and well-recognized as the other top collections in the Swiss brand’s arsenal. At present, with numerous variations released over the past two decades, the Aquanaut is one of the sought-after timepieces in the world of luxury sports watches.
Iconic Aquanaut Pieces
It has been over 20 years since the first Aquanaut watch came out and it’s crazy how highly regarded the collection has become. With that said, why don’t we take a closer look at some of the most coveted Aquanauts released through the years?
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5065 ‘Jumbo’
This Patek Philippe Aquanaut was first launched back in 1998. It is known to be the watch that truly changed the public’s perspective regarding the Aquanaut collection. The Aquanaut Ref. 5065 comes in either a steel or yellow gold case paired with a comfortable rubber strap. Meanwhile, its black dial follows a textured grenade pattern with tritium markers on the minute track. This iconic model is powered by a 315 SC movement.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5167A ‘10th Anniversary Edition’
This Aquanaut was released in celebration of the collection’s 10-year anniversary back in 2007. In comparison to the models that came prior to it, the 5167A offers a more refined and subtle look which was a style preferred by many in the 21st century. It comes in the iconic stainless steel case along with a composite black strap that perfectly fits the understated style of the watch. This piece also features a black embossed dial with large luminescent hands, Arabic numerals, and a date window at 3 o’clock. In terms of technical details, it has a self-winding mechanical movement and offers resistance to water up to 120 meters.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5650G ‘Advanced Research Travel Time’
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5650G is one of the most controversial pieces in the collection. Without a doubt, it is the result of continuous technical innovations by the Swiss brand over the years. Even with just the exterior, you can already tell that it is an advanced and futuristic watch. It comes in an 18K white gold case paired with a composite strap in night blue. The embossed dial features an interesting open heart display, a complex time zone function, a day/night indicator, and an analog date counter. All these are possible thanks to two crucial innovations: an optimized Spiromax balance spring and a flexible mechanism.
It should be noted that this watch is an acquired taste for many. Some might think that it is ‘trying too hard’, and it is a fair criticism to say that the dial of this watch is a little cluttered and has too much going on, which can be distracting for wearers. That being said, Patek Philippe’s goal with this was to truly showcase the technical advancements it had achieved, and in that regard, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5650G has acquitted itself admirably.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut: Key Aspects
Now that we know more about the Aquanaut and its origin, let’s delve into the key aspects that make this collection so unique and coveted.
Distinct Dial & Strap
It is undeniable that the Aquanaut has one of the most distinctive dials out there. Back in 1997, ‘bold and proud’ was a theme followed by many, be it in fashion or lifestyle in general. Patek Philippe took that to heart, which led to the conceptualization of this pronounced embossed pattern. What’s even more remarkable is that they also came out with a strap that perfectly complemented the dial, making it a true statement piece. However, over the years, trends continued to evolve, so the Swiss brand made sure to incorporate little tweaks here and there with the design. Now, the modern-day Aquanaut still follows the same embossed pattern but in a more quiet and refined fashion.
120m Water Resistance
This aspect of the Aquanaut is probably expected since it draws inspiration from the sea and nautical themes. Since the Aquanaut is a relative of the ever-so famous Nautilus, having providing good water resistance isn’t something new for the brand. Most of the pieces in the current Aquanaut collection boast a water resistance of up to 120 meters. This excellent feature paired with a beautiful design makes the Aquanaut even more appealing.
Patek Philippe has been creating their own in-house calibers for countless decades now. They surely have it all, whether it’s quartz, automatic, or manual-winding movements. The Aquanaut collection is actually powered by a self-winding movement which makes use of gold rotors for optimal yield. Patek Philippe made sure that all the materials utilized in crafting the calibre complemented each other in order to maximize its full potential.
Selection of Patek Philippe Aquanaut
This next section will be a closer look at some of the Patek Philippe Aquanauts currently available in the market that you could easily get for yourself.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5168G
This Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5168G just screams youthful and luxurious. The unusual khaki color is what makes this timepiece so fresh and different compared to the other Aquanauts. With this watch, you get a sense of adventure that just pushes you to go out and explore. This Jumbo Aquanaut model comes in a white gold case paired with a composite bracelet in khaki green. Its embossed dial, which is of the same color as the strap, includes silver applied numerals, luminescent hands and markers, and an unobtrusive date window at the 3 o’clock position. Lastly, it has a see-through sapphire crystal caseback through which its high-performing caliber 324 SC is visible.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5072R
This next model is nothing short of fancy and extravagant. The Aquanaut Ref. 5072R is the perfect Patek Philippe Aquanaut for all the women who enjoy dazzling, luxurious accessories. This Aquanaut comes in an exquisite rose gold case and a polymer strap in pearly beige. Its mother-of-pearl dial, designed in a checkerboard pattern, includes luminescent hands, Roman numerals, diamond hour markers, and a date window. It also has a diamond-set bezel and a sapphire crystal caseback through which the beautiful self-winding movement is visible. This timepiece is definitely a must-have for all the lavish ladies out there.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5167/1A
Third on this list is a more classic Patek Philippe Aquanaut watch for men. The Aquanaut Ref. 5167/1A is a gorgeous, versatile piece that would complement any ensemble. This model comes in a professional-looking case and bracelet both made of stainless steel. Its black dial follows the same pattern and layout as the other Aquanauts with large luminescent hands and markers. Much like the other pieces mentioned, this Aquanaut is driven by a calibre 324 SC with a power reserve of up to 45 hours. Ultimately, it is the quintessential option that should definitely be on every watch connoisseurs’ radar.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5164R
The Aquanaut Ref. 5164R, also known as the Travel Time, is a timepiece that fully showcases Patek Philippe’s technological prowess. The best part about this watch is that it looks just as amazing as it is functional. This model comes in a rose gold case paired with a polymer bracelet in warm dark brown. Aside from the typical Aquanaut layout, the brown embossed dial also includes a dual time zone mechanism, a day/night indicator, and an analog date counter. It is equipped with a caliber 324 SC FUS, boasting a 45-hour power reserve. If you prefer something that looks a little more traditional, you can also get this Aquanaut Travel Time in a steel case and black strap as well.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5627/200A
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5627/200A is a more contemporary interpretation of the quartz Aquanaut Luce. While it is nothing short of lavish as well, this model offers a more casual and classic vibe. It is presented in a steel case along with a composite bracelet in black. The dial follows the usual Aquanaut layout with Arabic numerals and a date window at 3 o’clock. It also features a magnificent diamond-studded bezel, which makes this timepiece just as luxurious as the Luce. Lastly, it uses a quartz movement that’s powered by a caliber E 23‑250 SC.
At this point, we all know that Patek Philippe is definitely on the more expensive side. Entry-level Aquanauts are known to fall within the $20,000 USD to $30,000 USD price range while the more recognized and extravagant watches are priced starting from $40,000 USD. It boils down to all sorts of different factors such as the model, materials used, whether it’s new or pre-owned, and more. At the end of the day, however, you should be prepared to pay the price for luxury, as the Aquanaut is definitely a watch that costs a pretty penny.
The Aquanaut on Celebrities
Being one of the most prestigious watch brands out there, it is no surprise that the Aquanaut is loved by many influential figures out there. While it may be difficult for regular folks to get their hands on one, celebrities and the elite certainly have it easier. With that said, here are some of your favorite celebrities who have been spotted sporting their own Aquanaut:
Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most influential people in the music industry. He has a very successful career to back him up, from The Beatles to his solo endeavors, and it is no wonder why many look up to him as an icon. While music fans are bound to fangirl over him, watch connoisseurs also have much respect for him and his tasteful watch collection. In a feature with Esquire UK, Sir Paul McCartney was photographed wearing a Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5167A. Apparently, he is often seen wearing this beautiful watch to different occasions, both on and off camera.
Drake is yet another another music legend on this list of Aquanaut patrons. A couple of years ago, someone posted an Instagram photo with Drake where he was wearing a rare Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5968A in all its chronograph glory. It came in a gleaming stainless steel case with a very striking orange strap. The rapper is known for his impressive watch collection so it really is no surprise that he owns a member of the Aquanaut family too.
Last on this list is British actor Tom Holland who is best known for his role as Peter Parker/Spiderman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2019, he was seen wearing a Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5167R at a press conference for Spiderman: Far From Home in Seoul, South Korea. Despite being only a year old when the Aquanaut first came out, Tom chose this suave, versatile watch to match his overall style and ensemble.
At this point, most of us are aware of just why Patek Philippe’s Aquanaut collection is such a big thing today. Though it didn’t start out as a coveted timepiece, the Swiss brand was able to cultivate this watch line and transform it into the headliner it is now. If you’re thinking about getting one, just remember that the Aquanaut comes with an interesting history, impressive features, and a beautifully distinct design. What more can you ask for in a watch, right?
If this has piqued your interest in Patek Philippe then make sure to check out our article on their iconic Nautilus 5711 model.
Photo Credits: Patek Philippe Official Website