2014 Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5164-001
Originally sold in Austria in 2014, this example is accompanied by its box and paperwork. Featuring a 40.8mm diameter and impressively thin 11.3mm stainless steel case, this example features its original black rubber strap with original stainless steel butterfly folding deployment clasp showing some signs of use. Similar to the Nautilus, the Aquanaut models have proven to be a great investment pieces that can also be enjoyed on the wrist. A luxury sports wristwatch that suits most all occasions, made for everyday use and travel. This example has some light scratches that can be seen on the case in keeping with its age and the level of use we would expect. A wonderfully capable and truly iconic timepiece, the Aquanaut has begun to spread its wings and move out from the shadow of its predecessor and forge its own path as a truly unique and contemporary offering from one of watchmaking’s most conservative and influential watchmakers, Patek Philippe.
Aquanaut Travel Time
The Aquanaut and its History
Released in 1997 at the very height of the .com bubble, the Aquanaut was created to lead Patek Philippe’s expansion into a new market segment by speaking to the tastes of a younger clientele who had just come into money thanks to the economy’s prosperity. Aesthetically inspired by the Nautilus, the Aquanaut divided opinion amongst collectors thanks to its clear attempt to speak to a market that Patek had never spoken to before, the young. With its release as a youthful luxury sports watch echoing that of the Nautilus in 1976, the Aquanaut’s design was modelled after the tastes that Patek’s usual collectors did not favour.
Featuring a more straightforward case shape, a “tropical” rubber strap, as Patek called it, and a svelte 35.6mm diameter, the Aquanaut was looked upon as a kind of Nautilus Junior. This comparison was somewhat justified at the time, however, as the Aquanaut’s octagonal bezel is similar to the Nautilus’, with just rounded over edges. The so-called “Tropical” rubber strap was also a point of contention as the Aquanaut was the first-ever timepiece from Patek to feature one, and it was seen as a move downmarket at the time. As the rubber strap could not be physically integrated into the case, Patek mirrored the dial’s tapestry design onto the surface of the strap to give the Aquanaut an aesthetic flow and sense of continuity, much like the Nautilus has with its integrated bracelet.
The Aquanaut’s Evolution
Due to the Aquanaut’s status as an entry-level model, it suffered from the very same fate as models like the Royal Oak and Nautilus with its avant-garde design and failure to appease Patek’s typical clientele. Today, the Aquanaut has evolved from this rather unfair assumption of its place within Patek’s line-up to become one of their most desirable models. Commanding lengthy waiting lists and hefty premiums, collectors have begun to appreciate the Aquanaut for its value as a fantastic sports-orientated offering from a brand that seldom creates such timepieces. A crucial part of its evolution has also been Patek’s ability to update the collection as design language within the industry evolves.
As the original generation of Aquanaut, stemming from the ref. 5060, was a relatively petite 35.6mm; Patek revamped the entire collection with a hugely updated version of the Aquanaut in 2007. Starting with a more significant case, Patek gave this new reference, the ref. 5176, a much larger and more modern 40.8mm diameter, a new fully integrated rubber strap with a new deployment clasp and a fresh dial design. Replacing the ageing design that existed before it, the Aquanaut as we know it today was born, which has since sparked the craze that we see today for this iconic model.
While the Aquanaut did certainly evolve and become more confident in its own design, its Nautilus-inspired DNA remained, however, with its case’s shape retaining the Nautilus’ rounded octagonal bezel – just with smoother lines. On top of this more discreet aesthetic, the Aquanaut’s dial’s tapestry detailing was also toned down, with the grooves becoming fainter and more spaced out. Various other minor changes were made, such as Arabic numeral sizing and such.
Aquanaut Travel Time
In keeping with Patek’s drive to move the Aquanaut upmarket, which has ultimately proven to be wildly successful, they released a Travel Time variant in 2012, which was the first Aquanaut to feature a complication beyond just the date. This reference, the ref. 5164-001 houses a list of practical functions thanks to its cal. 324 S C FUS movement, which also features in Patek’s Calatrava Pilot Travel Time collection.
An automatic movement featuring a second-time zone displayed through its skeletonised second-hour hand, the cal. 324 S C FUS is perhaps the epitome of Patek’s incredibly intuitive design. Featuring a pair of AM/PM apertures positioned at 3 and 9 o clock on the dial, the Aquanaut ref. 5164-001 can quickly provide its wearer with their local and home time, alongside their AM/PM status.
An incredibly functional travelling watch as both hour hands are 12-hour hands, there is no mental arithmetic required, and the second-hour hand can be hidden beneath the local time hour hand when the wearer isn’t travelling. A stunningly symmetrical layout on one of Patek’s most iconic modern designs, the ref. 5164-001 Travel Time is perhaps the ultimate stainless steel Aquanaut thanks to its sports-orientated design and impressive utility as a functional jet-setter watch.
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