In 2017, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref 5168G increased the size of the Aquanaut case. The occasion was the 20th anniversary of the Aquanaut collection. And Patek Philippe wanted to celebrate in style. After all, the Aquanaut has become one of the brand’s most popular models. Thanks in no small part to the near extinction of the Nautilus. (They’re about impossible to find in their natural habitat these days). More on that in a minute. Presented in white gold, the 5168G offers sporty luxury with a touch of refinement. This year saw the addition of a green dial variation. An interesting complement to the earlier blue dial model. So, does bigger mean better? Read on and decide for yourself.
A (Very) Brief History Of The Patek Philippe Aquanaut
The Aquanaut made its debut in 1997 as a 1,000-piece limited edition collection. This comprised the Ref 5060A in stainless steel and Ref 5060J in 18K yellow gold. It was the Jumbo Aquanaut Ref 5065A that followed in the same year though that put the watch on the map.
Offering a sporty 38mm steel case, it was the first Patek Philippe watch ever to feature a rubber strap. The satin-brushed case was inspired by the Nautilus but with a more contemporary feel. And featured a less complex three-part construction.
For a long time, the Aquanaut was considered an entry-level sports watch. A sort of a Nautilus-junior if you will. Some people bought it because they wanted to own a Patek Philippe sports watch. But they couldn’t afford the more expensive Nautilus. That’s not to say it didn’t have its own fans. But collectors didn’t really give it too much attention. At least not at first.
The last few years, though, has seen its popularity surge. This is in part due to the astronomical demand for the aforementioned Nautilus. Realising it was all but impossible to get one, collectors began turning to the Aquanaut. This has led to steel models – such as the Ref 5167A – in particular becoming very desirable in their own right.
But to some, the Aquanaut is even better in gold. Which brings us to the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref 5168G “Jumbo”.
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref 5168G “Jumbo”
In the world of “big” watches, the Ref 5168G does not stand out. That’s because it’s not actually that big. The 18k white gold case measures 42.2mm. Quite moderate by today’s standards. Compared to other versions though, it is a notable step up. The Ref 5167A offers a 40mm case. While the Ref 5164A is larger at 41mm. Neither command the same wrist presence as the 5168G.
The upsizing is all in the name of making the 5168G better suited to modern tastes. Measuring 8.25mm thick, it’s still comfortable on the wrist. And somewhat discreet. At least it would be but for those dials. Not that we’re complaining mind you.
Applied Arabic numerals in white gold mark the hours. They have a Superluminova coating for low-light conditions. Luminous five-minute markers in 18K white gold complete the time indications. The date appears in an aperture at 3 o’clock.
For the 2019 version, a khaki green dial is introduced, along with a matching rubber strap. The colour is more subdued than the earlier blue version. Yet in some ways it stands out more because the colour is so unusual. Other than that, the dial is the same as the original Ref 5168G.
On the reverse side of the watch a sapphire case back offers a nice view of the self-winding caliber 324 S C movement. In 2017, this movement also celebrated a birthday. It’s 40th. Although simple in function, it features some of the best developments Patek Philippe has to offer. This includes its patented Gyromax® balance complete with Spiromax® balance spring (in Silinvar®). A unidirectional 21k white gold rotor handles the generating of energy. The movement offers a max power reserve of 45 hours.
The finishing is not excessive. But it is very nice, with high attention to detail. The bridges, are decorated with strictly parallel Geneva striping. Round-chamfered and polished edges emphasize their individual contours. The rate accuracy meanwhile is -3 to +2 seconds per day, as specified by the directives of the Patek Philippe Seal.
The 5168G comes on a composite strap embossed with the same checkerboard pattern as the dial. A double-security fold-over clasp in 18K white gold holds it in place.
Pricing & Availability
The price of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref 5168G is GBP 30,390 / USD 39,690. Demand runs high for these models though. Finding one at an authorized retailer is unlikely. That means you will pay a healthy premium on the secondary market. Not quite double retail. But near enough to.
Is Bigger Better?
The 5168G is not a big watch. But it is bigger than the other Aquanaut models. Whether this makes it more comfortable on the wrist is a matter of personal preference. It does make it more distinctive though. And it’s a nice way to differentiate the white gold models from the steel ones. Judging by their popularity, it seems the market agrees.
Technical Specifications: Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref 5168G
- Case: White gold – 42.2 mm – screw-down crown – sapphire crystal caseback – water resistant to 120 metres.
- Dial: Blue embossed dial – black gradated – gold applied numerals with luminescent coating.
- Movement: Calibre 324 S C – mechanical self-winding – date, sweep seconds – Gyromax® balance complete with Spiromax® balance spring (in Silinvar®) – centre hour, minute and seconds hands – Patek Philippe seal.
- Price: GBP 30,390 / USD 39,690.