In 1997 the Patek Philippe Nautilus – it had its debut in 1976 – was already a manifestation of casual elegance in steel. However, with its extremely elaborate two-part porthole construction, it was beyond the reach of the younger, physically active target group that then manufacture president Philippe Stern had in mind.
Consequently, a simpler three-part design with a back, caseband, and bezel was chosen. This eliminated the need for the left- and right-hand hinges but thanks to post-1976 technical progress still assured water resistance to 120 m despite unchanged dial dimensions.
With its slightly rounded octagonal bezel, vertically satin-finished flats, and chamfered and polished edges, the Aquanaut case paid well-deserved tribute to the Nautilus.
But instead of the steel bracelet, which was extremely difficult to produce and finish, the Aquanaut was fitted with an innovative, highly durable, and easily manufacturable composite strap. The good intentions were honored, and the Aquanaut soon ranked among Patek Philippe’s best-selling men’s wristwatches.
In 2004, the Aquanaut Luce also won over the hearts and wrists of women, showcasing a bezel set with flawless Top Wesselton diamonds, and a palette of different dial and strap colors that often varied on an annual basis.
In 2007, the 10th anniversary, the men’s models were subtly reworked while preserving the character of the watch but making it fit for another decade.
The new 2017 Ref. 5168G is the first men’s Aquanaut wristwatch in 18 carat white gold. With its somewhat warmer hue, it sets itself apart from stainless steel.
But as with the other Aquanaut models (and the Nautilus watches), the design of the gently rounded octagonal bezel with vertically satin-finished flats and chamfered polished flanks remains unchanged.
Moreover, with a diameter of 42,2 millimeters (!), it is the largest model in this line.
The format pays tribute to the original 1976 Nautilus of the same size that was nicknamed “Jumbo” and today is still referred to by that name among collectors. The night blue hue of the dial and the strap is new as well.
The 18 carat white-gold case houses the 4 Hz Patek Philippe automatic calibre “324 S C” with a power reserve of 45 hours and a Spiromax (in Silinvar) balance spring. The calibre only measures 3,3 mm in height, the “324 S C” is so flat that even with its elaborate seals and gaskets, the complete new Aquanaut is still only 8,25 mm thick overall. With its heavy central rotor in 21 carat gold, it extracts and stores energy from every movement of the wrist. As specified by the directives of the Patek Philippe Seal the calibre “324 S C” is accurate -3 to +2 seconds per day.
Diameter (10 to 4 o’clock): 42.2 mm
Width (9 to 3 o’clock incl. crown): 44.9 mm Length (across lugs): 50.1 mm
Overall height (crystal to lugs): 9.1 mm Height (crystal to display back): 8.25 mm Width between lugs: 22
The dial is made out of brass and colored by blue PVD coating. It features applied Arabic numerals in 18 carat white gold with Superluminova coating, 12 applied five-minute markers in 18 carat white gold with Superluminova coating. The hour and minute hands are baton-shaped hands in 18 carat white gold with Superluminova coating. The seconds hand is made out of bronze, white lacquered and counterbalanced.
The strap is water-, UV-, and abrasion-resistant. It is made out of a composite material with checkerboard embossing to match the night blue dial. The double-security fold-over clasp is made out of 18 carat white gold as well.
The new white-gold Aquanaut will be sold for 34.000 CHF including 8 % VAT / 34.688 Euro including 19% VAT.