With just 55,000 watches made per year, of which 45,000 mechanical and 10,000 quartz watches for women, the Patek Philippe universe is relatively small and exclusive. The brand’s reputation is demonstrated above all by its exceptional results in auction rooms: considering the ten watches attaining highest prices at auction, nine are Patek Philippe.
The entry-level Patek Philippe is the Aquanaut, a sports watch launched in 1997 with a rounded octagonal dial. This dial shape was first introduced by Patek Philippe with their 1976 Nautilus designed by Gerald Genta, and more recently it was presumably part of the inspiration for Burberry in their Britain watch of very similar shape.
The Aquanaut is the only Patek Philippe to have a rubber strap, and with its water resistance of 120 metres, it is ideal for sports activities on or in the water. Back in 1997 when it was first introduced, it was the only watch with a display caseback to have that sort of water resistance. The case in stainless steel is 40 mm in diameter, and very slim at 8.5 mm thickness. The dial has a simple and rugged look, with highly visible hands and applied gold numerals on a black dial embossed with a globe-like pattern that mirrors the strap texture. The strap plays an important part in the watch’s appearance, with a snug fit against the case between the lugs, and a double folding clasp in steel with the Calatrava cross. Hands and hour markings have a luminescent coating for night-time visibility.
The movement is the automatic 324 SC, which runs at 28,800 vph (4 Hertz) and has a power reserve of 35-45 hours. The display caseback provides a view of the calibre, with an oscillating weight decorated with circular Côtes de Genève, straight Côtes de Genève on the bridges, and much more besides… finish is superb and it invites leisurely inspection with a lens. It is marked with the Patek Philippe seal that guarantees that the watch complies with standards beyond official standards (COSC) in terms of precision (max deviation per day -3/+2 seconds) and manufacturing quality.
The price of the stainless steel Aquanaut, reference 5167A-001, is 16,700 Swiss francs.
All images courtesy of Patek Philippe