Patek Philippe Ref. 5990A – an owner’s review

Many thanks to “Pablo” who has very recently purchased a Patek Philippe Ref. 5990A. This is his unabridged review of that Nautilus.

Recently, the Watch Baron posited the following question, here on this site : Would I buy the 5990?

That is the same question I have been struggling with for recent years. Out of all the Nautilus (Nautilii?), the 5990 happens to be the only one I ever liked. Hands down, no discussion. It combines the chronograph, my favorite complication, with a dual time function, which comes in handy for one who travels a lot, as I do (and happen to not own a 5650 like the Watch Baron does).

For a long time now, I have been going back and forth, as I really liked this particular Nauti. But, I had many misgivings. I do not like non-round watches as they look strange on my wrist and to my eyes. It is too thick, coming in at 12.5 mm. I already have a ‘luxury’ steel sports watch, so why should I get another? And so on, and on and on… Obviously, the prices for all the Nautilus have rocketed recently, but that is not a point of discussion here. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say I paid the price I was comfortable with.

I have been seriously considering this piece for the last few months, but the feeling kicked in about a month ago. You know the feeling, the “I love it, I want it, and I am going to get it” feeling. So, a few weeks ago I finally followed through. And, how do I feel so far?

Let’s dive in a bit.

Wrist presence

This watch took some getting used to, as it is so far-removed from my typical taste. The octagonal case shape was strange to look at for the first few days. The side pushers were a strange anomaly, I keep calling the ears. In the beginning, I would inadvertently press them all the time. The watch is bigger than I usually wear, and thicker. And it definitely does not go with a business suit, thus relegating it to ‘weekend warrior’ status.

After a few weeks, wearing it around the house and on the weekends almost exclusively, I am happy to report that I have, not only gotten used to it, but that it now looks just right. While casually dressed, this watch feels great. It just works. The added heft provides the feeling of ‘quality’ and toughness. Now that I have learned how not to push the time adjusters, it goes on quickly and without fuss.


The bracelet was my second point of apprehension. Every time I tried on this watch, the bracelet felt heavy, too shiny and conspicuous, and the lack of micro adjustment makes me uneasy on a sports watch. Here again, I find myself completely relieved of any concerns. It is very comfortable, secure and feels right. And I love the fold-over clasp and how secure it feels. The one thing I cannot comment yet is the lack of micro adjustment, as that need (nay, must…) be tested when I finally get a chance for vacation somewhere warm.

Dial and layout

I personally find this dial gorgeous. While many of its competitors are blue dialed, the 5990 goes gray. The gradient of colors changes, and that play of lighting is wonderful to observe. I could stare at those stripes all day. As a matter of fact, I do.

The colour gradation varies with the lighting

The hands are a bit too thin, I usually prefer them more robust to improve the legibility. That especially goes for the date and chrono hands. The date is almost unreadable, to be polite. On the other hand, I really like the layout and concept of the dual time mechanism, including the day/night indicators for both zones. It is simple and straightforward, and the pushers provide a very easy and quick way to update the time zones. Overall, the layout is very pleasant, with subdials balancing each other (as do the 2 day/night apertures). The legibility is also very good due to the high contrast between the white lume of the hands and the dark gray of the dial.


This category will take some testing, especially somewhere in a warmer climate, by the pool and holding a cocktail. So far, simply puttering about, performing daily tasks, this one is a winner. The chronograph I find very useful, as I like to time random things (such as how many minutes the kids are allowed on electronics). I do not need to think about issues with water resistance, as I do with some others. I can simply relax and enjoy this big Nauti on my wrist.

The pool-test is yet to come


I have 2 main issues with this one. The first is the fact that it is so recognizable and practically screams ‘rob me’ (if I lived in London, for example). Sad but true in these times. My other gripe is the fact that the second time zone pushers can’t be locked. It would be a cool feature and would remove many, many unnecessary accidental adjustments.

So far, I am extremely pleased with this watch. Everything about it screams luxury and quality. The mix of complications is perfect for me and my lifestyle. I really do enjoy it and look forward to the time I can test it vs. the others I feel are comparable. And, as one who does not have the luxury of getting my hands on the 5650, and one who does not particularly like the Rolex GMT, the 5990 hits the sweet spot, with the added functionality and usability.