We are going from one end of the spectrum to the other in the weekend watch. Last weekend we talked a bit about the Orient Mako, the affordable dive alternative with some real value for money and enough character that it doesn’t feel like a Rolex copy. This week we are going to the luxury end of the spectrum with the Patek Philippe Aquanaut, a watch Patek launched in 1997 and describes as the “perfect dress sports watch” (odd slogan for a company that sells the Nautilus).
The aquanaut is an interesting piece, and to be honest it has never been my favorite in the Patek line. That said, it does offer a casual and sporty feel that isn’t present anywhere else in the Patek line, including the nautilus. The case is a sort of slightly squared circle design, not unlike the Nautilus but with a bit more of a circular profile. I don’t find it quite as visually appealing as a Nautilus, but that’s just a matter of opinion. The dial itself is both the antithesis of Patek Philippe and at the same time demonstrates all the greatness of the company. It combines simple arabic numerals as well as bold square hour indices, all with a healthy dose of lume. The aquanaut furthers the boldly casual styling with broad lume-filled rectangular hands. The most striking feature, though, of the dial is the addition of engraved meridian lines (not honestly sure what they should be called) that give the dial a 3 dimensional quality. Beyond the case and dial the most unique feature of this watch is its rubber strap. The strap incorporates a beautiful Patek deployment clasp, but frighteningly for some (though probably not Patek owners) it must be cut to the correct size for the owner and is not adjustable. It continues the casual theme and is to my knowledge the only rubber strap available from Patek. All these features come together to create undoubtedly the most casual watch in the Patek line, and yet the Patek Philippe quality is still there. All the indicators are crisp and perfect, and the engraving on the dial is crisp and precise. Little details like the engraving around the Patek Philippe name are what put Patek in a class above so many other watchmakers, and they didn’t skimp with the Aquanaut.
As ever with Patek Philippe the movement is excellent. The in-house automatic movement is beautifully finished and can be seen, along with the 18 karat gold winding rotor, through a sapphire case back. Normally with a “beach” watch you wouldn’t want a sapphire case back necessarily, but Patek uses a screw-down system which should ensure no water gets into the watch as you jet-ski along the French Riviera. All told this is an interesting piece, a casual watch from a distinctly not casual watch brand that offers some interesting and unusual features for a Patek. Not personally to my taste (especially for more than 20K in steel), but if you have the money and need a weekend watch you could do a lot worse.