The Weekend Watch: Patek Philippe Aquanaut

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 Watch

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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.

The Movement

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Weekend Watch: Orient Mako

Keeping up with this week’s seem of talking about watches I actually own instead of Pateks I thought this week’s weekend watch would be my own personal beater; the Orient Mako II

The Watch

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The Mako dressed up a bit with a very patriotic NATO band

The idea behind the weekend watch series is to highlight casual watches that you could wear on the beach for the weekend and bang around a bit and not worry.  By the nature of that description these will often be dive watches and its hard not to talk about dive watches without comparing them to a Rolex Sub.  When I was looking for a dive watch I wanted something that didn’t look like a Sub copy, but still felt like a classic dive watch.  In my opinion Orient strikes this balance perfectly with the Mako. The overall styling is clearly Dive watch oriented, but the hands are not particularly similar to the classic Rolex hands, nor are the hour markers.  The separate day-setting crown also sets this apart form a Rolex, but by far my favorite feature of the model above (and the one I acquired) is the beautiful blue sunburst dial.  It is a deep blue (deeper that the blue on the dial of the Rolex two-tone subs) that, as illustrated in the picture above, really captures the sunlight and gleams wonderfully.  Combine this with the slightly blue-green color of the luminova in the hour markers and this watch screams ocean-bound.  The other great aspect of this watch that is hard to find in a non-Rolex sub is its versatility.  The lug width is a very standard 20mm which opens the watch up to the wonderful world of NATO straps.  As the picture above shows, the watch looks fantastic on a NATO strap.  At 13mm tall the NATO doesn’t make it sit too high on the wrist, and the blue dial makes any NATO strap with blue, red, white, or gray in it really pop.  I love wearing NATO straps, but it is hard to find watches that really look good on the nylon, this watch definitely meets the mark.

The Movement

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The in-house Hamilton automatic movement

Perhaps a rarely known/understood fact is that Orient is in fact an in-house movement manufacturer.  Many might assume that as a Japanese company they use Seiko or Miyota movements, but their movements are their own from design to construction.  Orient has a wide ranging line of automatic movements, but unfortunately the Mako uses there lower end movement.  I have found the movement to be impressively accurate, the one reason I wish Orient had put in one of their higher end movements is that the movement in the Mako can not be wound by hand.  The crown can set the time and the date, but cannot be used to wind the watch.  I personally have the watch on a winder, but if you didn’t keep it on a winder and it wound down you would have to shake it to wind it, something that always makes my skin crawl as I’ve seen what shock can do to a mechanical timepiece.  I also personally prefer a diver without the date (I’m an originalist that way), but that is much more a preference issue than a comment on the watch quality.  All told I think this watch delivers a huge amount of bang for the buck.  For only $180 you get an automatic dive watch with 200M of water resistance, very respectable fit and finish, and a beautiful and versatile blue dial.  For those of us not making 6+ figures this is as good as it gets for a weekend watch.

 

 

 

The Weekend Watch: Tudor Pelagos

In this new (hopefully ongoing) series we will be doing quick profiles on some fun and horologically interesting watches that, in a perfect world, we could spend a weekend on the beach enjoying with some sun and some sort of rum-based beverage.  To be clear these are not watches I actually own, simply nice and interesting casual watches worth talking about.

Welcome to the weekend watch.  This week’s weekend watch is the Tudor Pelagos.  The Pelagos has lived its life being known as the Sub’s little brother, but today it is better than ever and, to me at least, a more casual, more unusual, and in many ways a more interesting timepiece.

The Watch

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The Pelagos is styled as a traditional dive watch. Tudor has a great history of military dive watches and this Pelagos continues the history with a traditional snowflake hour handle, large superluminova hour markers and a rotating bezel.  The case comes in at a fairly dive-standard 42mm and is a bit on the thick side, but offers an impressive 500M of water resistance.  Ultimately the style doesn’t do much to deter the average onlooker from thinking this is a slightly less nice Sub, but to me it has more character in its less refined style.  It feels more casual, more like a fun watch than a serious watch.  This is further enforced by the bright blue dial/bezel option for the watch, which definitely gives the watch a more casual feel..

The movement

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Up until 2015 the Pelagos used a modified ETA 2824 movement.  As ever the 2824 is a real workhorse movement that is reliable and tough, but not very exciting.  That all changed when Tudor developed their first in-house movement and put it into the Pelagos.  The new movement offers a longer power reserve (70 hours) than its predecessor and each and ever movement is COSC certified.  Somehow Tudor managed to put this great new in-house movement into the Pelagos for only $270 more than the old ETA model. Suddenly the Pelagos became more interesting and a better value proposition then just about any dive-style watch on the market.

Conclusions

For better or worse the Tudor Pelagos is always going to be compared to the Rolex Submariner.  Rolex owns Tudor after all, and they will never want the baby brother brand to start competing directly with the Sub, its just not smart business.  However, with the introduction of a manufacture movement at Tudor the Pelagos is now, in my mind, right up there next to the Sub in terms of classically styled dive watches with high quality COSC in-house manufactured movements.  That said, they still have very different characters as watches.  Rolex has a more polished feel that illustrates the 3-4K premium you will pay for it.  If you want a watch for the boardroom and the opera the Rolex may be the better option.  The Tudor on the other hand brings some fun to your wrist.  It feels less serious, more sporty, and more appropriate for a fun weekend on the beach.  In this respect I think it captures the essence of a dive watch better than the Rolex does these days, and it is a watch that ought to be on a watch lovers radar when considering a great weekend watch.