The Aquanaut and Aquanaut Luce collections combine serious sporty performance with classic yet contemporary attributes synonymous with Patek Philippe’s timepieces. Allyson Klass discovers the collection’s seven new models for men and women.
After presenting its own vision of casual elegance with the Nautilus back in 1976, Patek Philippe reaffirmed its ability to innovate when it created its next high-end sporty watch in 1997. With its modern, unexpected design and a character all its own, the Aquanaut proved to be a huge success. Inspired by the Nautilus, its case and rounded octagonal bezel stood out with their instantly recognisable shapes, as well as the alternation of polished and satin-brushed finishes. Both in matching colours, the dial and strap were embellished with an embossed chequerboard pattern that added an original, dynamic touch.
The Aquanaut’s strap was another highlight. Made of a high-tech water-resistant composite material known for its extreme resistance to traction, wear, salt water and UV radiation, it was also supple, comfortable and pleasant to touch. The watch debuted a steel model with a black dial and strap. It soon became another cult model, sought after by aficionados with a refined yet relaxed approach to life. The Aquanaut also enabled a new, younger clientele to enter the rarefied world of Patek Philippe.
Over the years, the men’s Aquanaut collection has also been enriched to cater to different tastes. To mark the model’s 10th anniversary in 2007, Patek Philippe revised the basic model by reworking the relief pattern on the dial and strap for greater impact and fitted a new integrated strap that followed the curvature of the case between the two lugs.
Powered by the calibre 324 S C self-winding movement, the 40.8mm Aquanaut Ref. 5167 is now available in steel with a black dial and strap, and in rose gold with a brown dial and strap. It also comes in steel with a bracelet in the same metal, as well as a white gold large-format 42.2mm version with a midnight blue dial and strap or khaki green.
Since 2011, the men’s Aquanaut has been available in a version featuring its exclusive Travel Time mechanism – noted for the ease of use of its dual-time-zone function and date indicator linked to local time. Driven by the calibre 324 S C FUS self-winding movement, the Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5164 is offered in steel with a black dial and strap, as well as in rose gold with a brown dial and strap. In 2018, the collection welcomed the Ref. 5968, its first steel chronograph.
Patek Philippe unveiled the Aquanaut Luce (“light” in Italian) in the Italian and Spanish markets first in 2004, followed by the rest of the world the next year. Adorned with a dazzling diamond-set bezel, it catered to the woman looking for a watch that blended modern sports chic with a touch of glamour. With options in steel with a quartz movement (Ref. 5067) and rose gold with a self-winding movement (Ref. 5068), the Aquanaut Luce also featured dials and matching straps in a host of colours.
This year, the maison enriches the cult collection with five Aquanaut Luce models and two Aquanaut Chronographs for men. The former revisits its original 2004 design with a new generation of three quartz-powered models in steel, a self-winding rose gold model, and a Travel Time dual time zone – the Aquanaut Luce family’s first model with an additional function. The new version of the Aquanaut Chronograph boasts a new take on sporty elegance to enliven the rich collection of men’s Aquanaut models. We take a closer look at the seven new iterations here.
Ref. 5267/200A: The Aquanaut Luce quartz in steel
The flagship ladies’ model now boasts a modern update with an enlarged diameter of 38.8mm (previously 35.6mm) and an integrated strap whose contours follow the curves of the case and lugs. Apart from haute joaillerie models, subsequent timepieces in this line will feature the new case size and integrated strap.
While the original quartz-driven steel Aquanaut Luce Ref. 5067 has appeared in an array of hues (black, safari brown, pearly white and blue grey) since its launch, the latest Aquanaut Luce Ref. 5267/200A now comes with a matching dial and strap in three colours: elegant black, feminine matte white and chic khaki green. The latter is also a nod to the original 2004 model in Adventurous Khaki, a slightly different shade that created a stir with its unexpected bold alliance of steel and diamonds.
Blending sportiness and refinement, the dial features an embossed Aquanaut decoration, applied white gold Arabic numerals and large white gold baton-style hands with luminescent coating. Black numerals and a date printed in white on a black background in the aperture at 3 o’clock increase the legibility on the model with a matte white dial.
The steel case is graced with a polished finish on flat surfaces and a satin-brushed finish on the flanks. Water-resistant to 120m thanks to its screw-down crown, the watch houses a Patek Philippe calibre E 23-250 S C quartz movement. A circle of 48 round Top Wesselton Pure diamonds lights up the bezel with polished bevelled edges. Made of an ultra- resistant composite material, the integrated strap features a patented fold-over clasp secured by four independent catches. The new Aquanaut Luce Ref. 5267/200A will replace the previous Ref. 5067 models.
Ref. 5268/200R-001: The Aquanaut Luce automatic
The Aquanaut Luce with a self-winding mechanical movement was first unveiled in 2010 as a rose gold model with a chocolate brown dial and strap, which was later joined by a white version in 2013. Today, a new 38.8mm model (up from 35.6mm) on an integrated strap enriches the line.
Water-resistant to 120m, the rose gold case perfectly complements the polished finish on its flat surfaces with a satin-brushed finish on the flanks. The emblematic rounded octagonal bezel has a polished bevelled edge featuring 48 Top Wesselton Pure diamonds set with textbook precision. A matte white dial with the embossed Aquanaut motif forms a luxurious backdrop for applied rose gold Arabic numerals, as well as baton-style hour and minute hands with a luminescent coating. A slender rose gilt sweep seconds hand completes the time display, while the date appears in an aperture at 3 o’clock.
This sporty, elegant timepiece is driven by the calibre 26-330 S C self-winding movement. Introduced in 2019, the movement is endowed with several technical innovations and optimisations (two of which are patented) relating mainly to the winding system. The presence of a stop seconds device, which stops the balance when the crown is pulled out, enables the user to set the time to the second. A transparent caseback reveals the movement’s architecture and flawless hand finishing. The collection’s two earlier 5068 references will be replaced by the new Aquanaut Luce Ref. 5268/200R-001.
Ref. 5269/200R: The Aquanaut Luce Travel Time
The Aquanaut Luce collection lacked the display of a second time zone to be the perfect travel companion for today’s active, cosmopolitan woman. However, that has been changed with the latest Aquanaut Luce Travel Time Ref. 5269/200R.
For this model, Patek Philippe drew inspiration from its ingenious Travel Time dual-time-zone mechanism. The exclusive system is already a feature of the men’s Aquanaut Ref. 5164, where two push-pieces on the left flank of the case set the local time.
To retain all the elegance and finesse so beloved in the Aquanaut Luce, the maison reinterpreted this useful, user-friendly function by incorporating two innovations in the calibre E 23-250 S FUS 24H – a new quartz movement with a dual-time-zone function and a discreet, practical setting system via the winding crown.
The timepiece has two central hour hands – a skeletonised hand for home time and a solid one for local time. When the owner is abroad, the skeletonised hand will continue to display the home time, coupled with the day/night indicator at 6 o’clock.
When a second time zone is not needed, the two hour hands can be superposed to become a single hand by using the winding crown. This means the Aquanaut Luce Travel Time offers two watches in one: a casual yet elegant model for all occasions that instantly transforms into a dual-time-zone watch for those who travel and communicate far and wide.
Equipped with a non-screw-down crown with a water resistance to 60m, the 38.8mm rose gold case’s contrasting polished and satin- brushed finishes complement a matte white dial and matching strap. The timepiece’s chic, sporty personality dazzles with a bezel edged with a polished bevel that is set with 48 Top Wesselton Pure diamonds.
Ref. 5968G: The Aquanaut Chronograph
In 2018, Patek Philippe introduced the first chronograph to the men’s Aquanaut collection. The Ref. 5968 launched with a steel model featuring a black dial, as well as two accompanying composite material straps in black, and orange. This year, the manufacture presents its first white gold Aquanaut Chronograph with two colourways for the dial and matching strap – elegant midnight blue and khaki green.
A key aesthetic feature is the harmonious integration of the chronograph into the Aquanaut design. The interplay of polished and satin-brushed surfaces on the case, bezel and pushers contributes to the effect. The 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock echoes the bezel’s rounded octagonal shape, while the elongated pushers are positioned at 2 and 4 o’clock. The chronograph indications (sweep seconds, quarter- second scale, 60-minute counter) stand out in white on the embossed Aquanaut pattern. Legibility is ensured by applied white gold numerals and large white gold baton-style hands with a luminescent coating.
At the heart of this model is the calibre CH 28-520 C self-winding flyback chronograph movement, which unites tradition (column-wheel control) and innovation (vertical disk clutch). As the clutch is virtually friction-free, the centre chronograph hand also functions as a permanent second hand. When the push-piece at 4 o’clock is activated, the flyback function allows the user to begin timing a new event while the chronograph is still running. Water-resistant to 120m, the two handsome 42.2mm models join the collection’s Ref. 5968A-001 in steel.
(Main and featured image: The Aquanaut Luce Ref. 5267/200A-011 in a chic khaki green)
This story first appeared in the December 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.