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The Patek Philippe Neptune combines the elegance of a dress watch and the wearability of a sports watch. Launched in the 1990s, it was a follow up to the iconic Nautilus – Patek’s only sports watch at the time – and signaled a new era of sports watches for the brand.
The Neptune was Patek Philippe’s answer to the increasingly active lifestyles of the time. Populating the niche between dress and sporty meant the Neptune could be worn from day to night. With its thin case, elegant leaf-shaped hands, and Roman numerals, its dressy side comes through. Paired with an engine-turned bezel, a crown guard, and a scaled bracelet, it enters a sportier realm.
Before being discontinued in the 2000s, the Patek Philippe Neptune line grew to include yellow gold, diamond and ruby-set, and complicated versions. Available in the secondary market, the Neptune is an excellent choice for those seeking an out-of-the-ordinary Patek Philippe watch. Explore our selection of Patek Philippe Neptune watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.
In the mid-1990s, Patek Philippe was about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Nautilus – their only sports watch model. As lifestyles became more active in this decade, a host of multi-functional luxury sports watches were also born. Among these were the Rolex Yachtmaster, introduced in 1992; and the Omega Seamaster, launched in 1993.
In response to the need for a new player in this category, Patek Philippe launched the Aquanaut in 1997, but not before testing the waters with the Neptune, which was introduced in 1996.
The Neptune’s tagline read, “Ideal for sportswear, the supremely elegant Neptune is, at the same time, the perfect dress watch.” Named after the Roman god of the sea, the Patek Philippe Neptune almost lives up to his stately gait and rugged beard.
The earliest models of the Patek Philippe Neptune were time-and-date models in steel, yellow gold, and two-tone – measuring a modem 36mm for men’s models and 19mm for ladies’ models. The dials came in silver, black, or salmon. It was joined by ladies’ models embellished with diamonds and rubies on the dial, bezel, and bracelet.
These were joined by the ref 5080 in 1998, a more complex model with moon phase and power reserve complications. This design was discontinued in 2002, followed by the rest of the Neptune collection in 2005.
Despite its brief stint in the Patek Philippe portfolio, the Neptune was able to bridge the worlds of sport and formal watches and show Patek’s willingness to experiment.
The Patek Philippe Neptune was produced between 1996 and 2005. The collection deftly combines the qualities of dress and sport watches, and was offered in a range of styles for men and women.
The ladies’ versions were offered in a dainty 19mm case, and men’s versions came in a modest 36mm. The collection also provided variety with options from steel, 18k yellow gold or two-tone construction, and a choice of black, silver, or salmon-colored dials. The ladies’ models also became a canvas for Patek Philippe’s gem-setters to showcase their creativity.
There were seven references of the Patek Philippe Neptune throughout its history:
Patek Philippe Neptune 4872 – a ladies cocktail watch with a floral-designed diamond-set bezel, and a gold link bracelet with scales that overlap like petals. These models came in a choice of 18k white or yellow gold, and mother of pearl or diamond pave dials.
Patek Philippe Neptune 4880 / 4881 / 4883 – ladies’ versions of the classic Neptune with an engine-turned bezel, a crown guard, and a scaled bracelet. The ref 4880 comes in stainless steel with a choice of black or salmon dials; the ref 4881 comes in solid 18k white or yellow gold, with engine-turned or diamond-set bezels; while the ref 4883 comes in solid 18k yellow gold, with baguette diamonds or rubies on the bezel.
Patek Philippe Neptune 5080 – a stainless steel men’s watch measuring 36.5mm in diameter, with an engine-turned bezel, a crown guard, and a scaled bracelet. These came with the option of a black, white, or salmon-colored dial.
Patek Philippe Neptune 5081 – a solid 18k yellow gold watch measuring 36.5mm in diameter, with an engine-turned bezel, a crown guard, and a scaled bracelet. These came with the option of a black, ivory, or champagne-colored dial. There are a few examples of these with diamond-set bezels and hour markers.
Patek Philippe Neptune 5085 – the final reference introduced in the Neptune collection, the 5085 sports a slightly larger 37mm case, and comes in a choice between a stainless steel or 18k yellow gold finish. What sets this apart from the rest of the line is the addition of moon phase and power reserve complications.
The Patek Philippe Neptune collection had seven references available during its production:
|4872||Ladies / 18k white or yellow gold|
|4880||Ladies / Stainless steel or two-tone|
|4881||Ladies / 18k white or yellow gold|
|4883||Ladies / 18k white or yellow gold, baguette diamonds|
|5080||Mens / Stainless steel or two-tone|
|5081||Mens / 18k yellow gold|
|5085||Mens / Stainless steel or 18k yellow gold|
Patek Philippe uses reference or model numbers to properly document the production and sale of their timepieces.
They use alpha numeric numbers as follows xxxx/xxxxX-xxx, but Patek collectors often 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. Neptune reference numbers begin with 48 for the ladies and 50 for men’s.
Next three digits – these are randomized, but watches from the same family of watches usually share the first two digits.
Next five digits / letter – the reference number is followed by a backslash, then a set of alphanumeric digits. These refer to details of the case, bracelet, or dial:
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
Next to these digits are letters that denote the type of metal or material used:
T - Titanium
R - Rose gold
J - Yellow gold
G - White gold
A - Stainless steel
P - Platinum
A Patek reference number ends with a three-digit number. These refer to a version of the dial within a reference. Patek Philippe manufactures different dial versions for the same model, so to keep track, they assign ”001” for the first dial version, then ”010”, ”011”, and ”012” for next three versions, and so on.
The Patek Philippe Neptune combines the qualities of a dress and sports watch. Produced from 1996 to 2005, it was made for those with active and sophisticated lifestyles. Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the Patek Philippe Neptune.
The Patek Philippe Neptune is a collection of watches that meet the niche between dress and sports watches. They feature a thin case, engine-turned bezel, scale-link bracelet, and elegant leaf-shaped hands. As Patek’s second sports watch (next only to the Nautilus), it presented a novel design that is uniquely 90s Patek.
Patek Philippe Neptune watches are water resistant to 3 bar (or approximately 30 meters / 100 feet). This level of water resistance is enough to protect it from rain or hand washing. It is not intended to be used while showering or while doing water activities like swimming or snorkeling.
Patek Philippe discontinued the Neptune collection in 2005, after 9 years of production. Both men’s and women’s styles of the Neptune are still available in the pre-owned market, and are sought after by Patek collectors who seek a stylish and sporty watch, and a piece of Patek Philippe history.