As production of the beloved Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A enters its final leg in 2021, Patek Philippe amps up its Aquanaut collection with 7 new styles for men and women.
While the most coveted of Nautilus models, the Ref. 5711, takes a final bow this year, all hopes and dreams have in turn landed on its younger sibling – the Aquanaut. Introduced more than 20 years after the Nautilus to reel in a younger clientele, the Aquanaut was, at its core, a fresher, more dynamic spin on the cult classic that would push the concept of a luxury sports watch even further in terms of versatility. In a departure from its forebearer, it dispensed the hallmark “ears” for a cleaner profile, doubled down on legibility with large Arabic numerals, thicker hands and a more pronounced luminescent coating, and lastly, incorporated straight lugs that would accommodate a trendy composite rubber strap.
Without a doubt, the Aquanaut has skyrocketed in popularity and come into its own in the last decade with compelling colourways such as the steel chronograph Ref. 5968A and other significant innovations, particularly the Advanced Research Ref. 5650. Now, Patek Philippe has rolled out a pair of Aquanaut Chronographs in 18K white gold, and a range of Aquanaut Luce watches, including a new Travel Time model.
Aquanaut Chronograph in White Gold (Ref. 5968G)
First introduced in steel with a grey dial and bright orange accents in 2018, the Aquanaut Chronograph is now available in white gold with more classic and versatile dial colours – midnight blue (Ref. 5968G-001) or khaki green (Ref. 5968G-010) – along with coordinated composite straps.
The midnight blue model is no doubt the cult colour of the brand and features a smoked finish, while the khaki green version has a stark matte finish, which only enhances the fundamental, adventurous character of the watch. The dial carries the iconic embossed chequerboard motif, with applied numerals and hands in white gold.
The hands and indices are filled with luminescent coatings that appear to be of slightly different hues in daylight – pure white on the midnight-blue dial and a greenish white on the khaki-green.
Depth-rated to 120 m, the case measures 42.2 mm wide, making it larger than the Nautilus Chronograph Ref. 5980 – a reflection of the brand’s positioning of the Aquanaut as the sportier collection in Patek Philippe’s catalogue. The finishing on the case is meticulous and everything we have come to expect from Patek Philippe. It features contrasting satin-brushed and polished surfaces across the bezel, case band and pushers, further enhancing the strength of its design.
What distinguishes the Ref. 5968 from other Patek Philippe chronographs, and from many other chronographs in the market is the single elapsed minute counter at six o’clock. While it is powered by the same calibre CH 28-520 C found in the Nautilus Ref. 5980, the co-axial hour counter has been omitted for a cleaner look.
The calibre CH 28-520 C/528 is an automatic flyback chronograph movement with both a column wheel and vertical clutch. As is characteristic of chronographs with a single totaliser, it lacks an active running seconds as well. A vertically coupled chronograph movement, however, is particularly suited for such a design as it facilitates the use of the chronograph seconds as the actual running seconds without any impact on amplitude. This is because vertical clutches are of a co-axial structure, which in turn generates friction when the chronograph is not in use, as the fourth wheel would be rotating independently. Thus, keeping the chronograph seconds running minimises wear.
Additionally, the movement incorporates Patek Philippe’s proprietary free-sprung Gyromax balance wheel that is attached to a Spiromax hairspring.
Aquanaut Luce in a New Size (Ref. 5268/200R & Ref. 5267/200A)
The more significant refresh, however, is over in the women’s line-up. The brand has strengthened its Aquanaut Luce collection with five new designs in a larger case size of 38.8 mm (up from 35.6 mm). All these models are characterised by a diamond-set bezel, hence the name “Luce”, meaning “light” in Italian.
The first is the Aquanaut Luce Automatic in rose gold (Ref. 5268/200R), which features a matte white dial with applied numerals, and hands in solid rose gold. Visible through the sapphire case back is the calibre 26-330 S C, the same slim automatic movement found in the Ref. 5711, featuring a hacking function and a power reserve of up to 45 hours.
The new quartz-powered Aquanaut Luce in stainless steel comes in three new tyles: in black (Ref. 5267/200A-001), matte-white (Ref.5267/200A- 010) or khaki green (Ref. 5267/200A-011). All the dials are marked by white-gold Arabic numerals and hands. The numerals are filled with luminescent coating except for the matte-white version; instead it features blackened white-gold numerals for greater legibility in daylight. In the same vein, the white gold model also sports a matching black date disc. Hidden behind a solid case back is the E 23-250 S C quartz movement, which has been finished to the same exacting standards as its mechanical counterparts.
The upsizing of the case to 38.8 mm is a much welcomed move and is arguably the most comfortable and universal size, being large enough for men to wear and small enough for women who have been bitten by the oversize watch bug. More importantly, it also strengthens the sporty nature of the Aquanaut, which when juxtaposed with a flash of diamonds, further exemplifies the modern concept of a luxury sports watch.
Aquanaut Luce Travel Time (Ref. 5269/200R)
The final Aquanaut Luce model incorporates a new quartz movement with a dual-time-zone function. A first for the brand, the E 23-250 S FUS 24H movement combines a quartz base with a dual-time-zone mechanism, which has been reworked to be controlled by a clutch-pinion that activates hand-setting. This allows the case to do away with pushers for a sleeker, more discreet look.
The watch features a pair of central hour hands – a hollowed hand for home time and a solid, luminescent-filled hand for local time. Local time is set when the crown is pulled out to the first position, whereas home time can be adjusted with the crown in the second position. Additionally, it also features a discreet day-and-night indicator at six o’clock which can be used in tandem with the second time-zone function. It corresponds to the home time, showing if it is AM or PM back at home. When homebound, the both hour hands can be superimposed to appear as a single hand.
One appreciable difference in this model is that it is equipped with a non-screw-down crown to facilitate seamless use of the dual-time-zone function. This means that the crown can be instantly pulled out to the first position to adjust local time. Consequently, the case is water-resistant to 60 m instead of the usual 120 m.
The case of the Ref. 5269/200R is rendered in rose gold, measuring in at 38.8 mm. Like the other Aquanaut Luce models, the bezel is adorned with 48 brilliant-cut diamonds, which offers a striking contrast to its more subdued, matte dial. It features a solid case back, as is the case with all quartz models, and is fitted with a composite matte white strap that perfectly matches the dial.