The Patek Philippe Aquanaut needs no introduction. First launched in 1997 to attract a younger crowd, it was priced as an entry-level Patek Philippe made in stainless steel and equipped with a rubber strap. Marketed as a luxury sports watch and as a younger sibling to the Nautilus, it was not exactly loved when it was first released and it was seen as blasphemous to the identity of Patek Philippe. Fast forward to today and it is one of the hottest offerings from the Geneva-based Manufacture.
I am sure all of you would know by now, that perhaps after the Nautilus, the Aquanaut is the hardest model to buy at retail with crazy waitlists. It is no secret that you have to buy many pieces from Patek Philippe before they will even let you on the waitlist. This example you see here is a Ref. 5168G in 18-carat white gold, which was released in 2017 to celebrate the Aquanaut line’s 20th anniversary.
Upon its initial release, the Ref. 5168G marked a significant milestone as the very first Aquanaut to showcase a larger 42.2mm case crafted entirely from 18-carat white gold. For context, Patek Philippe introduced this particular design in homage to the original 1976 Nautilus, affectionately referred to as the 'Jumbo' by collectors. Similar to the other models in the Aquanaut series, the Ref. 5168G boasts a satin-brushed bezel, mirror polished side flanks, and a lug design that gracefully extends outward with a subtle downturn, ensuring to accommodate their signature tropical composite rubber strap and for a comfortably snug fit on larger wrists.
The embossed blue gradient dial featured on the Ref. 5168G is truly a sight to behold. Throughout my time with it, I frequently found myself captivated by the dial's visual appeal, often forgetting to check the time itself. The dial provides an ideal backdrop for the appliqué Arabic numerals and hour markers which are made of white gold. Furthermore, the handset is white-lacquered and coated with luminous material, offering both excellent legibility and a striking contrast against the deep blue dial. A discreet and tasteful detail, if I could say so myself.
Turn the Ref. 5168G over on its caseback and you will find the in-house self-winding Cal. 324 S C beating from within, all elegantly showcased through its sapphire exhibition caseback. While the Aquanaut can be considered an “entry-level” Patek Philippe timepiece, the attention to detail in its movement finishing is anything but. It hosts a 21-carat solid gold central rotor with impeccable finishing throughout, featuring customary perlage and Côtes de Genève, along with a beautifully engraved Calatrava cross. In terms of its power reserve, the Cal. 324 S C offers a maximum capacity of 45 hours on a full wind.
I am fairly certain you didn’t need to read the above for you to decide whether you love this piece or not. The Aquanaut is one of the most in-demand watches produced today and the perfect do-anything watch, in my opinion. While many opt for the convenience of steel, I personally find that there is a certain allure to knowing that the Aquanaut you are wearing is not just a regular steel one, but an 18-carat white gold one. It adds a touch of understated elegance when you are on the go and takes it to another level in terms of pure heft and luxury.