05.05.2020 - Patek Philippe

History of the Aquanaut

Those who love Patek Philippe, will probably admire the Nautilus range – and that collection has a lot to do with the birth of the Aquanaut.

After years of the Nautilus dominating the luxury watch market, something was needed to attract a new generation of watch collectors.

Something fresh and more ‘casual luxury’ while still embracing the traits of a high-end sports watch… and that was the Aquanaut.

Inspired by the Nautilus, it was considered by collectors as its little brother.

While fans liked the modern slightly smaller style, they knew it wasn’t designed by talented watchmaker Gerald Genta, the construction wasn’t as complicated, and the bracelet wasn’t integrated.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut reference 5060A

The first Aquanaut to be launched was the 5060A in 1997. It was a mid-sized stainless-steel watch with a contemporary feel.

It was incredibly like the Nautilus as it included the same style of ‘porthole’-inspired octagonal bezel, created by Gerald Genta.

It had a satin case and a solid, screw-down caseback with water resistance of 120m.

For the times, the 36mm watch with automatic movement and a rubber strap was unheard of.

What did make the watch distinctive was the fact that both strap – resistant to UV and saltwater – and dial looked rather like a chocolate bar.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut reference 5064A

Following the resounding success of the first offering, Patek brought out this model the next year. It was virtually identical, except offered in a smaller case, powered by the quartz calibre E 23 SC and with tiny changes to the size and position of the date window and hour numbers.

The ‘jumbo’ reference 5065

This watch was again like the 5060 but with a few key changes. This time there was a jumbo more contemporary-sized 38mm case with new movement. The sapphire crystal caseback allows you to admire the Calibre 315 SC inside.

Variations on this watch included a shiny stainless-steel bracelet and then a yellow gold version was introduced a year on.

To say the Aquanaut 5065A was immediately popular would be a lie.

Audemars Piguet had already established a trend for casual sporty luxury watches but It wasn’t long before the Aquanaut became a top seller for Patek.

This was at the time of the dot com boom, so a new younger audience wanted the prestige of a brand like Patek but a more casual version.

10th anniversary

 When Aquanaut reached its 10th anniversary in 2007, Patek decided it was a good time to introduce the 516X series.

More models followed including Aquanaut references 5167 and 5165, and in 2011, Patek introduced its first complication to the Aquanaut collection. The Time Travel – reference 5164.

Perfect when on the move, there are separate day and night indicators for both local and home time. A sub-dial above 6 o’clock shows the local date by hand.

20th anniversary

To celebrate Aquanaut’s 20th anniversary, Patek brought out the limited-edition Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5650G. And as the years went on there were even orange straps and khaki green ones, with more extras being added with each reference.

Today there are lots more models, as you can see from this handy timeline from Patek Philippe.