The sporty Aquanaut, with its rubber strap and water resistance to 120 meters, is a rare breed among Patek Philippe watches, which are largely known for their classic perpetual calendars and minute repeaters, those marvels of complexity that chime the hours and minutes.
When you consider that the venerable watchmaker produces no more than 60,000 pieces a year, divided among some 150 models, it’s no surprise that getting an Aquanaut from an authorized retailer is like winning the lottery.
“There is about a 5- to 10-year wait for the Aquanaut Chronograph,” says Raj Jain, of the London-based boutique WatchCentre, which is offering an unworn 2021 Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph ref. 5968A-001, with box and papers, on 1stDibs. “Only very loyal Patek clients were allocated this watch. Therefore, they were at a premium as soon as the model was launched.”
Patek released the Aquanaut in 1997 to appeal to younger buyers who had never purchased from the brand before. The rubber strap was a first for Patek and unusual for watches in general at the time.
“The Aquanaut is unique because, as the aqua and naut suggest, it was made as a sailing watch,” says Jain. “And it is one of their few watches that are waterproof. If you’re swimming, the bright orange of the chronograph model, which came out in 2018, is easily visible underwater.”
At 42mm wide, the example on offer is big, particularly by Patek Philippe standards. But with a thickness of only 11.9mm and a sleek dial design, it’s somehow both sporty and dressy at once. An ideal accessory for high-low dressing, it works equally well under a French cuff and over the sleeve of a hoodie. It comes with two straps — one orange, one black. But the orange is better suited to autumn’s country hikes and pickup football games, as it matches the fallen leaves.