Is the Aquanaut “THE” Patek Philippe sports watch?

What goes through my head when I decide to buy an Aquanaut? Within my collection, what am I trying to achieve in buying one?

Some watches just grab your attention!

I guess the answer to this question will vary from person to person. For me, the Aquanaut represents THE sports watch from Patek Philippe. Rubber composite strap. Basic complications. Automatic movement. Very robust. Easy to read. Sporty look.

But, some would argue that it just doesn’t compete with Rolex in the sports watch department. I would argue that it depends entirely on one’s individual perspective. I love Rolex as a sports watch. Yet, as my wife would say, all Submariners just look the same. And yes, they do. The Aquanaut looks very different. Indeed, as a sports watch, the Aquanaut adds nice diversity to my collection. It allows me to wear a sports watch that doesn’t look like a Rolex!

Now, within the Aquanaut range, there is a lot of choice. I am going to give a brief review of the 5168G which I had the opportunity to try. Right off the bat, I liked this white metal blue dial combination – it is my favourite aesthetic combination in a watch and especially in a sports watch. The watch was released in 2017 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Aquanaut.

Graduated blue dial contrasting nicely with the white gold case

Water-resistant to 120m, the 5168G will be perfectly happy in the swimming pool and the sea. It is not a diving watch, but is perfectly good for casual sports use.

The 5168G is the first men’s Aquanaut to be released in white gold. It is surprising how much heft this adds to the watch. I love that feeling of weight in a watch. So for me, the use of white gold is a positive on two fronts. First, it adds that feeling of heft and second it gives the watch a different (somewhat warmer) hue than steel. At 42.2 mm it comes in as the largest Aquanaut ever made. I understand that a part of this is to pay tribute to the original Jumbo Nautilus of the same size, but I can’ help feeling that I would have preferred 40mm.

Having said that, the 324 S C movement is a meagre 3.3 mm in height thereby allowing the overall height of the watch to be kept just 8.25mm. Given the nature of the lugs and the manner in which the composite strap moulds into the lugs, the 42.2 mm actually works on even relatively small wrists.

At 8.25mm in height, the 5168G sits very neatly on most wrists

One of the big positives of the 5168G is the colour or the dial. It is called “night blue’ and it is a graduated dial in the sense that the colour shifts from bright in the centre to black towards the outer rim of the dial. Applied Arabic numerals in white gold with a Superluminova coating contrast nicely against the blue of the dial. The luminous five-minute markers are also hand-set in white gold – something new within the Aquanaut range.

No denying the beauty of that graduated blue dial

But what is the key differentiator for the Aquanaut?

For a sports watch, the Aquanaut does differentiate itself from the competition with respect to the quality of the finishing of the movement. Lets be honest, nobody buys a Submariner because of the finishing. Same with Omega. The Aquanaut is in a different league. So it should be, really, given that it is significantly more expensive. Geneva striping decorating the bridges, jewels sunk into polished holes, screws with polished circumferences and slots. Edges are polished and chamfered to emphasise the contours of the bridges. 21k gold central perlage-adorned rotor This is high quality finishing for a sports watch.

The movement of the 5168G should not be underestimated as it is a feature that clearly differentiates it from most sports watches. Yes, of course one is paying a price for it. But that is what differentiates us all as buyers.

What do I mean by that?

Here is a good example! I love chocolate. 70% cocoa. A high quality 70% Lindt chocolate bar will cost me $2. My preferred chocolate is 70% Venezuelan made by Pralus. It costs almost five-times the price. The value-for-money buyer will take the Lindt as its almost as good at a fraction of the price. I won’t. I am happy to pay the premium to get something that does that little bit extra. That little bit extra is worth it to me. When people tell me that its just not worth it, it always amuses me as how can they determine what is or is not worth it to me? The 5168G will allow its owner endless moments of joy through the sapphire-crystal case-back. It brings something to the table that, for many, is worth it.

Finally, one must also not forget the “night blue” composite strap with 18k white gold fold-over clasp. The strap is extremely tough, insensitive to salt water and resistant to UV radiation. It is a uniquely comfortable strap and clearly one designed to be wearable in the pool, on the beach, and for general casual wear.

The composite strap makes this a very comfortable wear

But is it a sports watch?

Is the 5168G a hardcore sports watch? No, of course not. Don’t take it deep sea diving. But then, how many of you would? Is it a sports watch that is usable for 95% of people? Yes. Does it bring something to the table that a Rolex Submariner does not? Very much so. It looks different. Feels different. It adds diversity to a collection. The finishing is significantly better for a sports watch than any sports watch I would consider. Of course, the 5168G is not the only Aquanaut worth considering. It is, however, an Aquanaut that IS worth considering as an alternative to the more standard Submariner sports watch.

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