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The Patek Philippe Aquanaut is the Genevan watchmaker’s sportiest design. As the first Patek Philippe model to feature a rubber strap and embrace a vibrant palette of colors, it is a representation of the brand’s more dynamic and active side.
As Patek is known for conservative designs and traditional materials, the Aquanaut created a sensation when it launched in 1997. Clearly inspired by the iconic Nautilus model, its rounder shape, water-ready bracelet, and bold numerals provide a sportier edge.
Today’s Patek Philippe Aquanaut collection includes chronograph and travel time complications, skeletonized and diamond embellished styles, as well as a wide range of colors – cementing the Aquanaut’s reputation as Patek’s most modern and fun watch. Explore our selection of Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.
Patek Philippe introduced their very first sports watch in 1976, with the nautical-inspired Nautilus. Created by renowned designer Gerald Genta, it was an ode to the Stern family’s love for sailing, and an answer to the new concept of the luxury steel sports watch.
By the 1990s, the notion of ‘casual luxury’ grew, and watch collectors were becoming more accepting of sportier designs from heritage brands. The company decided that it was time to go back to the drawing board and create a sports watch design that was all their own.
In 1996, Patek Philippe introduced the ref 5060S as part of the Nautilus collection. With its octagonal, porthole case without the “ears”, this derivative is considered a transitional model from the Nautilus to the Aquanaut. It came in solid 18k yellow gold, with a smooth dial, and a leather strap that deviates from the Nautilus’ integrated bracelet.
By 1997, the first official model of the Aquanaut line was introduced. The ref 5060A established hallmarks of the Aquanaut that we still see today: the rounded octagonal stainless steel case, a checkerboard “Grenade” pattern dial, and the “Tropical” rubber strap. Aside from marking the first time that Patek used a rubber strap, the composite used for the material also makes it resistant to wear, UV rays, and salt water.
Over the next few years, the first Aquanaut design will be made with an option of a yellow gold case and a steel bracelet.
For the 10th anniversary of the Aquanaut in 2007, its design was given an update, with most of the changes taking place on the dial and the bracelet.
The dial’s deep grooves were replaced with more shallow but curved lines that are reminiscent of a globe’s latitude and longitude lines. The Tropical strap was also moved from the bar lugs to an integrated style similar to that of the Nautilus. To appeal to prevailing tastes, the yellow gold case option was also replaced by rose gold, and paired with a brown dial and strap.
Since its introduction, the Aquanaut was always a time and date watch. In 2011, the Aquanaut finally received its first complication, with the Aquanaut Travel Time. It is able to tell a second time zone with the addition of a skeletonized hour hand. Beneath the 3 and 9 o’clock markers, windows were also added to indicate the local and home time with a color change.
In 2018, the Aquanaut Chronograph was introduced, featuring central seconds and a 60-minute counter above 6 o’clock.
In the late 2010s, the Aquanaut collection became a venue for the brand’s experimentation. More contemporary designs were introduced, which made use of vibrant and unexpected colors as well as new mechanisms. Most notable of these were the Patek Philippe Chronograph in orange, khaki green, and midnight blue color schemes; as well as the Advanced Research Travel Time which features a skeletonized mechanism for setting the second time zone.
These developments have helped establish the Patek Philippe Aquanaut as a watch that combines versatile styling, technical excellence, and creative design.
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut is considered a canvas for experimentation within the brand, where they test contemporary designs aimed at capturing a younger audience.
Today’s Aquanaut collection is a balance of more classic references with colorful and bold sports watches and diamond embellished ladies’ models. Here are the sub-collectons under the Patek Philippe Aquanaut family:
PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT (TIME AND DATE)
The most basic version of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut comes with a date complication. This stripped-down model features the checkerboard dial, “Tropical” rubber strap, and bold Arabic numerals that the Aquanaut has become known for. There is also a version with a three-piece link stainless steel bracelet, for those who want a dressier option.
PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT TRAVEL TIME
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time was the first complication (other than the date) introduced to the line. This model is able to display a second time zone, with the addition of a skeletonized hour hand. At 3 and 9 o’clock, there are two small windows with the words “Home” and “Local” which serve as reference for the local and reference time.
PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT CHRONOGRAPH
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph was introduced in 2018 as the latest complication added to the line. It features a 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock, while its CH 28-520 C movement comes with a rare flyback function, which allows the center chronograph hand to also function as a permanent seconds hand. It was with the chronograph line-up that Patek began to introduce bolder colors to the line, such as orange, khaki green, and midnight blue.
PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT LUCE
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce is the sub-collection created exclusively for women. These watches have smaller cases (38.8 mm) and come with 48 brilliant cut diamonds on the bezel. The Luce collection has also expanded to include a Travel Time watch, which comes with a skeletonized extra hour hand and a day/night indicator at 6 o’clock. There are also Luce Haute Joallerie models which have the dial, case, lugs, and clasp totally set with diamond, showing off complex jewel setting techniques.
Like many watch brands, Patek Philippe uses reference or model numbers to document the manufacture and sale of their watches. This number is often used to identify a particular watch without the need to write the entire model name. Among Patek faithful, it is common for to refer to watches using only their reference number.
The format of a Patek Philippe reference number is xxxx/xxxxX-xxx, but Patek collectors commonly use only the first four digits to refer to a particular model.
First digit – starts with 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. Men’s watches start with 3, 5, or 6, while ladies watch models have references that start with 4 and 7. Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches always start with a 5XXX.
Next three digits – these are randomized, but watches from the same family of watches usually share the first two digits.
Next five digits / letter – A Patek Philippe reference number is usually followed by a backslash, then a set of alphanumeric codes. This set is more rigid and indicate details of the case, bracelet, or dial, and work as follows:
xxxx / 1 - a watch on a metal bracelet
xxxx / 50 - a decorated dial. e.g enamel, gem-set or engraved
xxxx / 200 - gem set case (brilliant cut)
xxxx / 300 - gem-set case (baguette cut)
xxxx / 400 - gem-set case (high jewellery)
xxxx / 500 - engraved case
xxxx / 600 - enameled or lacquered case
xxxx / 700 - case with either gold or gemstones
xxxx / 900 - mixed techniques. eg diamonds and enameling
Following these digits are letters that denote the material used for the watch case:
T - Titanium
R - Rose gold
J - Yellow gold
G - White gold
A - Stainless steel
P - Platinum
The reference number ends with a three-digit number after a hyphen. These refer to a version of the dial within a reference. It is customary in Patek Philippe to make different dial versions for the same model, so they use ”001” for the first dial version, then ”010”, ”011”, and ”012” for next three iterations, and so on.
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut is the sportiest model in the Genevan manufacturer’s catalog, often favored by beginner collectors and younger audiences. Here are the most commonly asked questions about the Aquanaut.
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut is a range of sporty, water-ready watches. These watches are characterized by their octagonal, porthole shaped case, checkerboard pattern dial, and water-resistant “Tropical” rubber straps. As Patek Philippe is known for traditional designs, the Aquanaut collection is considered the brand’s more casual offering.
Patek Philippe is the benchmark brand in Swiss watchmaking. Aside from its long history and countless innovations, Patek is known for rigid quality standards that far exceed normal industry codes. Every technique is meticulously carried out with excellence.
As such, Patek Philippe only produces around 50,000 timepieces a year, a very low number compared to other Swiss brands that release roughly a million watches annually.
With their lasting quality, limited number of models in existence, and steady demand, Patek Philippe watches command a high price tag.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches are generally more affordable than Nautilus or Complications models, but they hold their value significantly. The Aquanaut has steadily acquired an influential following (The Beatles, John Mayer, and Patek Philippe CEO Thierry Stern himself wear an Aquanaut) and steel sports watches have become in vogue in the recent decade, causing the Aquanaut’s popularity to skyrocket.