05.10.2022 - Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe Aquanaut vs Nautilus

Patek Philippe is renowned for its high precision, luxury and exclusive timepieces, with the Nautilus and the Aquanaut undoubtedly being two of the biggest drivers of the brand’s success.

With the Aquanaut being heavily inspired by the Nautilus, it can be difficult to know what the key similarities and differences are. Read our Aquanaut vs Nautilus guide and decide for yourself which Patek Philippe model comes out on top.

Traits of the Nautilus

Launched in 1976, the Patek Philippe Nautilus was completely innovative for its time of release. It’s octagonal casing was so unique and was one of the first luxury sports watches that was also made from steel. Designed by Gėrald Genta, the Nautilus takes its inspiration from submarine portholes, not only in its octagonal face but also with how the sides attach the bezel resembling a porthole of a ship or submarine. Traditionally known for their luxury dress watches, the Nautilus was Patek Philippe’s first sports watch. In the years that followed, Patek Philippe introduced a range of Nautilus models for men and women in varying sizes and metals.

Find out more about the history of the Nautilus, or browse our collection of pre-owned Patek Philippe Nautilus watches.

Traits of the Aquanaut

In 1997, Patek Philippe introduced another line of sports watches to their collection known as the Aquanaut. Inspired by the Nautilus, the Aquanaut was considered by collectors as its little brother. The Aquanaut has the same basic design and style of the Nautilus but with a more modern sporty twist. In comparison to the Nautilus, the Aquanaut is considered ‘casual luxury’ while still embracing the traits of a high-end sports watch. It’s more youthful and casual design meant it was a hit with Patek Philippe’s growing fan base. Still featuring the porthole case style and available in a range of sizes and metals, the differences between the Aquanaut and Nautilus are much greater than you may first think. 

Find out more about the history of the Aquanaut, or browse our collection of pre-owned Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches.

Comparison: Differences between Aquanaut and Nautilus

An example of a Nautilus on the left, and an Aquanaut on the right.
An example of a Nautilus on the left, and an Aquanaut on the right.

The main differences between Patek Philippe’s Aquanaut and Nautilus collection are the bracelet (metal or leather for Nautilus, rubber for Aquanaut) and the case style (with tabs on the Nautilus, without for Aquanaut). Both are bold and popular luxury watches.

For more detail on these differences, read on.


The Aquanaut and Nautilus have a very similar case size, typically sold with a 40mm case. However, in practice the Nautilus is slightly larger: if you measure it from wing tip to wing tip it is in fact 43mm. If you measure it from lug to lug it becomes 44mm.

Both the Nautilus and Aquanaut are extremely slim in design, making them ideal for sliding under a dress cuff. Though first impressions suggest that the Aquanaut is thicker than the Nautilus, it is actually slightly slimmer. Both form fitting and comfortable, the Nautilus has a much more streamlined design that is slightly larger than its little brother the Aquanaut.


Unlike the Nautilus, which uses a hinged design for its case that places two “tabs” or “ears” on either side of it, the case used for the Aquanaut is far more traditional in its design and lacks the Nautilus’s unique hinged structure. While the Nautilus has a rounded octagonal case, the Aquanaut has a slightly more rounded and masculine design. Still symbolic of the original porthole design, both cases offer a uniquely bold finish.


One of the main differences between the Aquanaut and the Nautilus is the bracelet. The Nautilus is available with either a leather strap or metal bracelet, typically in stainless steel. Made from smooth hand polished links, the Nautilus bracelet goes through 55 different hand-finishing operations before completion. Known for its incredibly smooth and comfortable design the Nautilus bracelet is worked on meticulously before a final inspection is carried out. This level of attention to detail is synonymous with both the Nautilus and the Aquanaut.

While the Nautilus has a silky smooth metal bracelet, the Aquanaut has a much more modern and unconventional bracelet design. The Patek Philippe Aquanaut has a “tropical” composite rubber strap featuring a grid like pattern. Ultra-resistant to wear, salt water and UV radiation, the Aquanaut strap is equally as comfortable as the Nautilus bracelet and is also available in a range of colours.


Both the Nautilus and the Aquanaut have models available with both self winding and quartz movement. Patek Philippe watches with a self winding movement have a mainspring that is wound by a rotor, which is set in motion by wrist movements. Patek Philippe rotors are crafted from 21K or 22K gold because the high specific gravity of the precious metal optimizes the kinetic energy yield. Both the Nautilus 7118/1200A and the Aquanaut 5167A feature self winding mechanical movements. Both the 7010/1R Nautilus and the 5067A-024 Aquanaut feature quartz movement with a battery life of roughly 3 years.


Undoubtedly one of the most desired watch brands in the world, Patek Philippe watches are also known for being some of the most expensive timepieces too. The way Patek Philippe watches are created means their production takes longer, resulting in lower inventories than most other luxury brands. This makes Patek Philippe watches highly exclusive and, thus, expensive.

With only 50,000 Patek Philippe watches in production every year and the Nautilus and Aquanaut only taking up a percentage of this, it’s easy to see why the price has been driven so high. With both the Nautilus and the Aquanaut ranging in price, the Aquanaut remains the more affordable option. That being said both timepieces are notorious for increasing in value making them a great investment. Unworn variations of the Nautilus and the Aquanaut frequently sell for much higher than their original retail price due to high demand and lengthy wait lists.

It’s completely down to personal preference whether you prefer the Nautilus or the Aquanaut. Both beautifully designed and meticulously crafted, and it is likely that both will remain two of the most sought after models in Patek Philippe’s collection.

Looking for a Nautilus or Aquanaut of your own?

Browse our collection of second hand Patek Philippe watches. We have new, top condition watches up for sale almost every day, from a variety of luxury brands. But when they’re gone, they’re gone!

If you own a Patek Philippe Nautilus or Aquanaut and are looking to sell or get a quote, then we are here to help. By selling with Luxe Watches from it’s never been easier to have your watch valued. Sell your Patek Philippe watch to us and receive the best possible price.