1997 was a year of cultural significance, with a number of important events that would shape the landscape for many years to come. Steve Jobs went back to a struggling Apple, 12 years after being fired from the company he co-founded, to turn it around and become what it is today. Tony Blair became Prime Minsiter of the UK, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris, Great Britain handed back control of Hong Kong back to China and the first Harry Potter novel was published. It was also the year that Patek Philippe unveiled their new sports watch at Baselworld. Inspired by the mighty Nautilus, the Aquanaut was a new watch for a new era of business-casual crossover. Now a staple of the Patek stable, the Aquanaut is a serious collector’s timepiece. Today’s Spot On is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5065.
Classic Casual Crossover
The Original Jumbo
21 years after the launch of the Nautilus, Patek Philippe unveiled the Aquanaut at Baselworld. The launch model was actually a reasonably diminutive 36mm model, reference 5060, that was conceived as a limited edition piece of 1000 units each in stainless steel (5060A) and yellow gold (5060J). It was immediately followed by a larger piece – the ‘jumbo’ reference 5065 measuring an impressive 38mm. Very quickly, the Aquanaut became extremely popular, in part due to the range of sizes in which it was produced…really a case for everyone!
Guided By Genta
Whilst the Aquanaut was not specifically designed by Gerald Genta, the watch took a significant styling cue from the Nautilus. The Nautilus was Genta’s greatest triumph for Patek and the watch today is one of the hottest timepieces in the market. Anybody who attended the Parma fair this autumn or followed the recent sales in Geneva will not have been able to ignore the power of the Nautilus.
Side By Side (pic Pinterest)
The most striking family resemblance, between the Aquanaut and Nautilus, is the port hole-inspired eight-sided bezel. The case shapes are also similar, including the crown guards although of course the Nautilus has an integrated bracelet. We love both watches, but this super cool early Aquanaut is something special to us.
The Aquanaut, as its name would suggest, was aimed at the water sports market a fact further highlighted by the fact that it was predominantly offered on a rubber strap. What we love is how this first iteration of the watch has such a raw tool watch like aesthetic. In our minds, this watch was the perfect alternative to the Submariner as a watch that would work for recreational watersports enthusiasts. By the late 1990s divers were routinely using wrist mounted dive computers and so the famous rotating bezel for measuring elapsed time wasn’t the life-saving essential piece of kit it once was. It truly was a crossover watch between sports and elegant cool…equally at home in the boardroom as it was in the boathouse.
Cool on rubber – The harmony between the dial and strap with some dive equipment…sporty cool!
One of the coolest aspects of the Aquanaut is its unique raised guilloche dial design. Sometimes referred to as ‘hob-nail’, ‘checkerboard’ or simply ‘textured’, the centre section of the dial has unusual rectangular blocks that graduate in such a way to give a 3-D spherical appearance on the dial. The dial has a heavy chapter ring around the circumference with minute hashes and oblong hour markers with lume applied therein. Within the textured surface of the dial there are also arabic hour markers. Sounds cluttered and complicated? Well, yes – when you beak it down it does actually have a “lot going on”. The reality is, however, quite simply beautiful. In our mind, it’s one of the nicest dials ever made and this first version is raw in its execution.
To us this dial has a rawness…almost prototype in its execution.
True 3-D effect – the first series dial was complex in its construction and awesome on the wrist.
After a decade of production, in 2007 Patek replaced the 5065 with the 5167. The dial received a couple of supposed upgrades. The first was a significant change to the way the pattern on the dial was executed. The 5167 lost the raised guilloche sections and the pattern was cut into the dial. The 5167 also witnessed the removal of the 3 numeral from beside the date aperture. We prefer the less refined original dial…almost like a crude prototype compared to its offspring, on the wrist the 5065’s dial is incredible.
The rubber strap on the Aquanaut, whilst adding a sporty look to the watch also makes the watch incredibly light. Weighing in at a feather-weight 65g approximately, its an easy watch to wear and would not be a hindrance when in the water. Equally, it slides effortlessly under your shirtsleeve for the office. Very versatile indeed. The harmony of watch and strap is created by the texture pattern from the centre section of the dial being repeated along the strap face. Together they work beautifully. In the same raw way that we love the dial, the straight end of the rubber strap at the lugs looks cool and edgy; an element that was “fixed” in the upgraded 40mm 5167.
The Dark Knight
Pat’s All Folks
The Aquanaut continues to dominate, with now a number of models in the Patek Philippe catalogue including white gold, rose gold, travel-timers and a chronograph. The original 5065 is still, in our opinion, the best due to key design elements in the early execution and therefore, this gives it real appeal on the wrist. The size is perfect, wearing perfectly at 38mm unlike the much bigger recent versions. The weight makes it ultra comfortable and the icing on the cake…the sapphire crystal caseback that lets you see that automatic calibre 315 SC in all its glory. Pat’s all folks!
What Lies Beneath – the PP Engine
Some Bulang and Sons Styling – mix and match
Easy Going and Easy Wearing