Although Patek Philippe is a company that is nearly 150 years old, their sense of innovation makes their timepieces appeal to younger generations. They have always been at the forefront of what’s hot, but in the 21st century, this is truer than ever. And right now, what’s on people’s mind is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut.
Inspired by the iconic Patek Nautilus collection, the Aquanaut brings you a fun, contemporary style with complications like travel time, date, and self winding chronograph. Aesthetically speaking, things get even more modern with its rounded octagonal case, sporty tropical strap (or robust three-piece link steel bracelet), and geosphere dial with large, easy-to-read indices abundantly filled with lume.
When the Patek Philippe Aquanaut was released into the world, it was one of the most transformative debuts in decades. It was a lifestyle statement, and one that said “sometimes less is more”.
While the Aquanaut wasn’t an instant hit, today, it is as much a part of Patek Philippe as the Nautilus. It is a staple of the Patek Philippe catalog and a timepiece that every collector wants for their watch box.
Let’s have a brief look at the history of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut leading up to reference 5167 and beyond.
TIMELINE OF THE PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT (LEADING UP TO THE REF 5167A)
Amidst the most coveted watch collections in the world, the Patek Aquanaut sits as a young timepiece, really just beginning its life as a classic watch. The Aquanaut is only a couple decades old, having debuted in 1997. But to this day, it still feels like a new collection, thanks to the resurgence of interest every time a new Aquanaut is released and the fact that more and more influential people have grown a strong appreciation for the Patek Aquanaut over the last few years.
At its launch, the Patek Aquanaut was a 1,000-piece limited edition collection. There were only two references, the 5060A in stainless steel and the 5060J in 18k yellow gold. It was the first Patek Philippe watch to ever feature a rubber strap.
The strap got its own press. It was coined “Tropical” by Patek Philippe, with its ability of being impenetrable to saltwater, UV deteration and bacteria.
Other features that defined the watch were the raised guilloche motif mirror texture of the strap and dial. The oversized Arabic numerals. And the honest ocean diving depth rating of 120m. The Aquanaut was the first watch with a sapphire crystal casebook to achieve such a level of water resistance.
But it wasn’t until the following year that the Patek Aquanaut really popped up on the map.
A year later, in 1998, the brand released the Jumbo Aquanaut 5065A, which was a sporty 38mm in case size. The satin-brushed stainless steel case of the 5065 feels very Nautilus like thanks to its size, yet it has a more modern touch.
And, that same year, in 1998, Patek Philippe released the ladies ref. 4960, a 30mm version of the Aquanaut.
The ref 5065 went on to be one of the most iconic watches of 1990s, but was discontinued as of 2007, as was ref 4960.
2004 Ladies Editions
In 2014, Patek Philippe unveiled a new ladies Aquanaut, ref 5067.
The Patek Aquanaut 5067 came in three styles – black dial and black bracelet, white dial and white bracelet, and green dial and green bracelet – all of which have a stainless steel case and a diamond bezel.
2007 – Aquanaut’s 10th Anniversary
On the 10th anniversary of the Aquanaut, the 506X collection was replaced by the 516X series. This was when the now-highly coveted 5167A was introduced.
The Aquanaut ref 5167 came with some new design updates. Patek gave the case size an increase to 40mm (of course, they kept the wonderful luster of the satin finish). It was also a little thicker at 8.1mm. The 120m of water resistance and sapphire case back was also the same.
Other notable changes were the new and improved movement, caliber 324 S C, and the subtler pattern of the embossed checkerboard dial, both of which all new Aquanauts still use.
The dial of the 5167 Aquanauts no longer mirror the texture of the strap. They have a geosphere look to them with the lines being more curved, resembling the longitude and latitude lines of a globe. A very fitting tribute considering this watch is world-renowned…
Another update was the numeral 3 was absent from the dial. Instead of using both the 3 o’clock and the date display, 5167 models only have the date display. Between the subtler embossing of the dial and the change the Arabic numerals, the new style Aquanaut dial has a cleaner, more balanced appearance.
Finally, the last update to note was the way they integrated the Tropical black composite strap with the case. It gives the watch a more comfortable fit on the wrist and much smoother profile. The clasp is still the same, a fold over steel clasp with the Patek Philippe Calatrava cross at the center.
While these changes are significant, the 5167 is clearly still as “Aquanaut” as the Jumbo 5065 and the original 5060 was. The overall essence is virtually the same.
2008 – Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167/1A
In 2008, Patek released the Ref. 5167 with a steel bracelet. This is the watch that we are featuring in this post.
With its 40mm octagonal case and steel bracelet, the Patek 5167/1A is probably the Aquanaut the most resembles the Nautilus. That said, when people think of the Aquanaut, they envision a rubber strap. Thus, the 5167/1A really stands out from the rest of the Aquanaut line up…
The steel bracelet is large and robust. Almost Rolex Oysterbracelet-esque. Comparing to the Nautilus’ more “jewelry-style” bracelet, the Aquanaut bracelet is much thicker, sturdier and dare we say more comfortable. Without a doubt, it is bolder and more substantial than any Patek bracelet of the past. This is where Patek takes sports watches to a highly durable level.
In terms of finishing, the Patek Aquanaut 5167/1A is as magnificent as the Nautilus. The large center links are satin-brushed and the also-large end links are mirror polish. The flanks of the bracelet are entirely satin. It makes for a very distinct, gorgeous aesthetic. If you know Patek, then you know it has a luster that is arguably the finest in all of watchmaking.
As for the clasp, it is a trigger release double deployant clasp. The clasp is as reliable and comfortable as it gets thanks to the double folding twin trigger deployant design. The clasp contours the wrist flawlessly and is low profile so it is not very susceptible to desk diving like the Rolex Oysterbracelet.
Besides the stainless steel bracelet, which integrates seamlessly with the case, the watch is exactly the same.
It features the same ergonomic, sophisticated 40mm Gerald Genta-like case with a satin finished bezel and high polished bevels and case.
It also has the traditional screw-down crown with the Calatrava cross in relief, providing 120 meters of water resistance.
The dial is the low profile geosphere design. It has a gradient color that changes from black to some kind of argent dark complex tone as you shift your wrist in light settings.
The Arabic numerals and indices are made from pure white gold. The numerals are polished to perfection, just like the watch as a whole, so they pop on the dial with a graceful no-nonsense attitude.
Moreover, the watch is incredibly easy to read, both in bright and dark settings. Patek spared no expenses in the lume department.
Overall, the dial may seem simple, but it really gives the watch immense personality when looking at it in person.
As for the movement, which you can see thanks to the Aquanauts sapphire crystal case back, it is a caliber 324 SC. This is the same movement all the most recent Aquanauts references use, as well as the Nautilus 5711. The caliber 324 SC movement can stand toe to toe with the finest movements in Haute Horology.
The self-winding movement incorporates various Patek Philippe innovations, such as the four-spoke Gyromax® balance wheel with its slotted poising weights, and the Spiromax® balance-spring in Silinvar® which maintains the oscillations at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations. Altogether, the movement is made up of 213 parts, 29 jewelers and 6 bridges, and it has a 45 hour power reserve.
Patek Aquanaut 5167/1A on the wrist
When you slide your hand through the steel bracelet and secure the clasp, you will instantly feel pure luxury. With the steel bracelet, it feels more substantial than your typical Patek Aquanaut. Moreover, you feel like you are getting more value for your money.
One thing we really appreciate about a steel bracelet is the fact that you will never have to replace it like you often do a rubber strap. Even the best of the best rubber straps, which Patek’s Tropical strap most certainly is, fall victim to this fate.
All in all, the watch is a pleasure to wear. It’s extremely comfortable thanks to the ergonomics of the case and bracelet design. At 8.3mm, it will also never get in your way. It’s slim profile will slide under any dress cuff or tight sleeve.
In a world chock-full of oversized sports watches with ostentatious features, the Aquanaut brings a much needed sense of modern sophistication.
Current Patek Philippe Aquanaut Line Up
While the Patek Aquanaut 5167A (rubber strap) and 5167/1A (steel bracelet) are our two favorite Aquanauts, there are other Aquanauts to consider in 2020, some with uniquely displayed complications.
- 5167R-001 (Rose Gold, Brown Dial and Strap)
- 5168G-001 (White Gold, Blue Dial and Strap)
- 5168G-010 (White Gold, Green Dial and Strap)
- 5164A-001 (Steel, Black Dial and Strap, Dual Time Zone & Date Complications)
- 5164R-001 (Rose Gold, Brown Dial and Strap, Dual Time Zone & Date Complications)
- 5968-001 (Steel, Black Dial and Strap, Chronograph & Date Complications)
- 5072R-001 (Rose Gold, Pink Dial and Strap, Diamond Bezel)
- 5062/450R-001 (Rose Gold, Diamond Dial & Bezel and Pink Strap)
Becoming a Staple Model in the Patek Philippe Catalog & Watch Collector’s Watch Boxes
While the Patek Aquanaut is one of the most trending watches of 2020, it wasn’t always top of the list across the board.
During the late 90s, the Aquanaut became very popular among a new, younger demographic for the brand. It was the same time as the dot com era, so this new generation of money had a very different idea of what luxury looked like. They appreciated both the sportiness of the Aquanaut and the prestige of the Patek Philippe brand.
While young money were all in for the Patek Philippe Aquanaut from the jump, purist watch collectors were harder to get on board. Many saw it as a Nautilus “Junior” rather than its own entity. They thought, “it’s good, but it’s no Nautilus”. After all, the Nautilus was designed by the legendary Gerald Genta.
For many years, collectors looked at the Aquanaut as a sports watch for the masses (at least the masses who could afford one), not a model for serious watch collector aficionados.
Two decades later and the turn of this tide couldn’t be clearer. The Patek Philippe is beloved by watch collectors from all walks of life and is now one of the most collectible, most iconic watches in the Patek Philippe line up. Not to mention, in all of watchmaking…
Who wears the Patek Philippe Aquanaut?
Some noteworthy Patek Aquanaut owners are:
- Paul McCartney
- Ringo Starr
- Mark Wahlberg
- Michael Fassbender
- Post Malone
- George Soros
IS A PATEK AQUANAUT A GOOD INVESTMENT?
Depending on the reference, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut suggest retail ranges from $16,000 to $194,000. However, on the secondary market, some of the models, such as the Patek Aquanaut 5167/1A, sell for more than their retail price. The stainless steel Patek Aquanaut 5167 has incredible resale value and it has been steadily trending up over the last decade. This goes to show you that the Patek Aquanaut makes for a very good investment.
The pre-owned Patek Philippe Aquanaut we have here at Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton is priced at $37,995. See the full sales listing.
Have questions about the Patek Philippe Aquanaut? Feel free to contact us or leave a comment below!