When you’ve been in the luxury watch business as long as I have, you understand that not all luxury watches play in the same field. There are powerhouse brands, such as Rolex, Omega, and Cartier that make excellent watches. And then there are high horology houses, like Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe that make grail-worthy timepieces. However, just because these top-tier brands have histories that stretch back centuries, it does not mean that they cannot make fresh and contemporary sports watches. Case in point is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut watch—Patek’s youngest watch model geared towards a modern audience.
The Flagship Patek Philippe Aquanaut
When Patek Philippe launched the Aquanaut in 1997, it was clear that the watch took some design cues from its older brother, the famous Nautilus watch. Yet, the Aquanaut offered an even fresher approach to a modern luxury sports watch, complete with a rubber strap—a first for Patek.
While Patek has made a whole host of different versions of the Aquanaut since its debut, the flagship model within the collection is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167A-001. This is the modern version of the inaugural Aquanaut watch from the late 1990s.
The 5167A sports a 40 mm rounded octagonal case in stainless steel, a black embossed dial, and a black “Tropical” rubber strap. Although the Aquanaut is no doubt a robust sports watch, it wears super comfortably thanks to its slender 8.1 mm thickness. This Patek watch can easily slip under a shirt cuff if need be.
The face of the watch is a simple affair with large luminous Arabic numerals, luminous center hands, and a discreet date window at 3 o’clock. There are also the luminescent squares adjacent to the hour markers for even better readability in the dark. Clean, straightforward, and perfectly legible.
Flip the watch around and you’ll be treated to a view of the intricately decorated mechanical movement powering the Aquanaut. The Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167A-001 runs on the automatic Caliber 324 S C with a power reserve of 35 – 45 hours.
The Tropical Rubber Strap of the Aquanaut
The black rubber strap (which Patek refers to as a “Tropical” strap) on the ref. 5167A features a checkered pattern, which complements the dial texture nicely. And because Patek encourages you to take the 120-meter water resistant Aquanaut with you on weekend adventures, the durable composite strap is resistant to salt water and UV rays.
What’s more, the underside of the strap includes plenty of grooves to promote airflow in order to keep stickiness at bay. The strap of the Patek Aquanaut ref. 5167A is fitted with a stainless steel double deployant clasp with a twin-trigger release system. In true Patek form, the clasp is engraved with the company’s Calatrava cross emblem.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut With A Steel Bracelet
While the rubber “Tropic” strap is a defining feature of the Aquanaut, Patek does make a gorgeous variation with a bracelet. The Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167/1A is identical to the model I detailed above, except for its stainless steel bracelet.
As expected, the addition of the steel bracelet adds quite a bit of heft to the Aquanaut, further emphasizing the luxuriousness of the watch. The expertly crafted bracelet also lends a dressier touch to the sporty Patek Aquanaut.
The center links of the bracelet are satin finished while the outer links are high-polished. This play in contrasts works beautifully on the bracelet and this particular Aquanaut seamlessly goes from workday to weekend. It’s also worth mentioning that the steel bracelet edition of the Aquanaut is a much rarer find than its rubber strap counterpart.
The Rose Gold Patek Philippe Aquanaut
If you’re a fan of rose gold men’s watches, then feast your eyes on the Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167R-001. This lavish version of the Aquanaut flaunts a 40 mm case in solid 18k rose gold. To complement the warmth of the gold, the grid-decorated dial is in rich brown. On that dial sits rose gold applied Arabic numerals along with rose gold center hands—all coated with luminescence for a bright blue glow in low light.
Completing the look of the rose Aquanaut ref. 5167R watch is the chocolate brown rubber strap, equipped with an 18k rose gold deployant clasp.
There is something truly appealing about the combination of a sporty silhouette and precious gold. And the opulent, yet modern, Aquanaut hits all the right notes.
Ladies Patek Philippe Aquanaut
Fantastic news for the ladies who love the Aquanaut watches—Patek makes a range of women’s versions too. While similar in looks to the men’s versions, the ladies’ Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches sport smaller 35.6 mm cases.
Plus, the ladies’ watches shine bright thanks to the 46 diamonds set into the bezel. This explains the watches’ official name, Aquanaut Luce, where “Luce” is Latin for “light.”
The stainless steel versions of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches for women come in a few different colorways. For instance, there’s the black Aquanaut ref. 5067A-001 and the white Aquanaut ref. 5067A-024. These are quartz watches, which is not my favorite choice—especially for a brand as revered as Patek Philippe. Yet, it is typical for ladies’ watches (even from the best watch brands) to run on battery-powered movements.
The Automatic Ladies’ Patek Philippe Aquanaut Watches
Conversely, the gold Aquanaut watches for women are automatic. Just like the men’s Aquanaut watches, the women’s self-winding Aquanauts house Caliber 324 S C with a power reserve of 35 – 45 hours.
Design-wise, you can opt for the crisp rose gold and white Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5068R-010 or the richer rose gold and chocolate brown Aquanaut ref. 5068R-001. Both set with diamonds, fitted with rubber straps, and simply stunning.
Is The Aquanaut Worth It?
It’s no secret that Patek Philippe watches are very expensive. After all, you have to pay the required entrance fee to be a part of the exclusive Patek Philippe watch owners club. Most watch enthusiasts agree that Patek is the very pinnacle of high-end Swiss watchmaking.
But, given that the Aquanaut is not as famous as the sought-after Nautilus or the elegant Calatrava, is it still worth the hefty price tag to own one? Yes. Yes, it is. The Patek Philippe Aquanaut occupies that great space between a bold sports watch and an everyday top timepiece.
And if it’s good enough for Paul McCartney as his daily wearer, then it’s certainly good enough for me!