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The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Buying Guide: References, Prices & Everything Else You Need to Know

Here’s what to look out for when buying a Patek Philippe Aquanaut, from key references to prices.


Ripley Sellers

October 19, 2022


9 min read

When it first launched in 1997, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut was intended to attract a new, younger, and more active generation of luxury watch buyers. Building on the core case shape of the Nautilus, but with a simplified design and a sporty rubber strap, the Aquanaut was meant to appeal to this growing demographic who had found interest in watches during the dot-com boom of the ‘90s. For years, the Aquanaut remained largely overlooked within the brand’s catalog, often thought of as just the Nautilus’ little brother. Fast forward to now, and that’s completely changed.

Today, the Aquanaut is easily one of Patek Philippe’s most famous and popular collections, with virtually all models entirely sold-out at a retail level and trading hands on the open market for values that are significantly greater than their original brand-new prices. Inherently more casual than the Nautilus, yet offering a lot of the same iconic design and legendary brand recognition that accompanies all Patek Philippe watches, the Aquanaut has become a staple among A-list celebrities and professional athletes. Since it’s been produced in a wide variety of models and configurations over the years, we put together this simplified guide to help you find the perfect Patek Philippe Aquanaut for your wrist.

Shop Patek Philippe Aquanaut 

What Makes an Aquanaut an Aquanaut? 

  • Sporty Design
  • Distinct Case Shape
  • Rubber Strap
  • Textured Dial
  • Arabic Numerals
  • Expert Craftsmanship
  • Swiss Made

Key Aquanaut References to Know

Should You Buy a Modern or Vintage Aquanaut? 

Bezel's Aquanaut Picks 

What Makes an Aquanaut an Aquanaut?

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5167R-001.

Sporty Design

While Patek Philippe is probably best known for its classic dress watch designs and highly complex mechanical creations, the Aquanaut lineup’s overall aesthetic actually leans more casual and sporty. Even in its most refined forms and when crafted from solid gold, the Aquanaut retains a slightly athletic look that immediately separates it from the majority of the brand’s other collections.

Apart from its iconic shape, the Aquanaut's case is known for its extreme comfort on the wrist.

Distinct Case Shape

All Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches share a distinct case shape, characterized by a thick, rounded octagonal bezel that typically features prominent vertical brushing across its top surface (unless set with diamonds). While its core shape is somewhat similar to that of the Nautilus, the overall design has been simplified for the Aquanaut — it no longer features a hinged structure and now includes standard lugs on either side of the case, rather than the integrated style the Nautilus is known for. 

A "Tropical" Rubber strap on the Patek Philippe Aquanaut.

Rubber Strap

Although Patek Philippe now offers a metal bracelet as an option for select models in the Aquanaut range, a textured rubber strap is typical for the watch (it’s usually one of the first things that comes to mind when someone thinks of the Aquanaut collection). Available in colors like black, brown, blue, and green (often intended to match the color of the dial fitted to the watch), all of the rubber Patek Philippe Aquanaut straps feature a grid-like pattern on their outer surfaces, mirroring a similar motif that appears on the dial.

A Patek Philippe Aquanaut isn't complete without its signature dial finishing.

Textured Dial

Regardless of color, all Patek Philippe Aquanaut dials feature a raised, grid-like guilloché pattern on their surfaces, a design element that can be traced back to the very first examples that debuted in 1997. Some people think the motif looks like a grenade, while others say it looks like a globe or a bar of Swiss chocolate. However you see it, this unique textured dial has become one of the best-known features of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut collection and even the luxe mother of pearl and diamond-set dials are constructed to emulate the model’s signature grid-like pattern.

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut's distinctive Arabic numerals against a green dial.

Arabic Numerals

With the exception of a few older discontinued models, all Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches feature dials with Arabic numeral hour markers, positioned along the interior of the prominent minute track. This feature is often regarded as one of the primary reasons the collection tends to feel a bit more casual compared to the older and more formal Nautilus collection.

Patek Philippe's self-winding Caliber CH 28-520 movement, found in the latest Aquanaut Chronograph references.

Expert Craftsmanship 

Despite its sportier and more casual design elements, the Aquanaut is still a Patek Philippe watch, meaning it’s constructed to the same incredibly high standards as the rest of the brand’s lineup. Even in their most paired back and utilitarian forms, all Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches feature immaculate finishing inside and out, and are fitted with beautifully decorated movements and meticulously crafted dials, all wrapped up in finely polished cases.

Patek Philippe's newest production facility in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva.


Just like all Patek Philippe watches, the Aquanaut is designed and manufactured entirely in Switzerland. Patek is a Swiss company with headquarters in Geneva, and every single one of the brand’s watches are proudly crafted in Switzerland to ensure the highest possible standards that exist within the luxury watch industry. 

Key Aquanaut References to Know

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5065A-001.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5065

Shop Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5065

Dates: 1998-2006

Price Range: $55,000-$100,000


  • Although it wasn’t the first Aquanaut Patek Philippe ever produced, this reference is often the one that first comes to mind when someone thinks of first-generation Aquanaut watches, since it was released the year after the watch’s original debut and first introduced the larger 38mm “Jumbo” case to the collection.
  • Available in stainless steel as the ref. 5065A or in 18k yellow gold as the ref. 5065J, this reference series offers the same overall aesthetic as the very first Patek Philippe Aquanaut, and was also the one that first introduced the option of a stainless steel bracelet to the Aquanaut lineup.
  • Along with its larger case size and the option of a metal bracelet, this reference was also the model that added a display caseback to the Patek Philippe Aquanaut, enabling owners to see inside to its beautifully finished movement. 
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5167A-001.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5167

Shop Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5167

Dates: 2007-Present

Price Range: $75,000-$200,000


  • The current-production version of the classic time-and-date Patek Philippe Aquanaut, often considered to be the spiritual successor of the original Aquanaut model that debuted in the late ‘90s.
  • Along with an updated self-winding movement, the case of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167 is also larger than its predecessors and measures 40.8mm in diameter. The ends of its rubber strap also contour to the shape of the lugs, compared to the previous gen that featured flat ends that left a gap between the edges of the strap and the side of the case.
  • Available in classic stainless steel as the ref. 5167A or in 18k rose gold as the ref. 5167R. The stainless steel model is fitted with a black dial and offered with the option of a black rubber strap or matching stainless steel bracelet, and the rose gold edition is fitted with a chocolate brown dial and is exclusively offered on a matching brown rubber strap.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5164R-001.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5164

Shop Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5164

Dates: 2011-Present 

Price Range: $100,000-$380,000


  • The travel time version of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut, equipped with an advanced mechanical movement that includes a dual time zone display paired with a set of day/night indicators for both local and home time zones. 
  • Along with having a date display for the local time zone that is shown by a separate register at the 6 o’clock location, this reference also features a pair of buttons on the left side of the case that allow the secondary hour hand to be jumped forwards or backwards in one-hour increments.
  • Just like other models from the greater Aquanaut lineup, Patek Philippe offers this reference in classic stainless steel with a black dial and matching rubber strap as the ref. 5164A or in 18k rose gold as the ref. 5164R, which is paired with a brown dial and matching chocolate brown rubber strap.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph Ref. 5968G-010.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph Ref. 5968

Shop Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5968

Dates: 2018-Present 

Price Range: $125,000-$250,000


  • This reference first appeared in 2018 and features a movement fitted with a flyback chronograph compilation.
  • Despite being a more recent addition to the lineup, it was the very first model with stopwatch functionality in the Aquanaut range, and features a single 60-minute counter that appears at the 6 o’clock location.
  • Like other Aquanaut models, Patek Philippe offers this reference in multiple metal options, and it appears in the brand’s catalog in stainless steel as the ref. 5968A or in 18k white gold as the ref. 5968G. The white gold edition is also available with either a blue or olive green dial, and both variations include a color-coordinated matching rubber strap. 
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5168G-001.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5168G

Shop Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 5168G

Dates: 2017-Present 

Price Range: $100,000-$150,000


  • At a quick glance, this reference may look like the standard time-and-date Patek Philippe Aquanaut model, but it features a larger 42.2mm case made out of solid 18k white gold, and is available with dial colors that aren’t available in the traditional stainless steel edition.
  • First released with a blue dial and matching rubber strap in 2017 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Aquanaut lineup, this reference was expanded with a khaki green dial and matching rubber strap in 2019, and now both models are offered alongside each other in Patek Philippe’s current catalog.
  • Although Patek Philippe does produce a rose gold version of its standard three-handed Aquanaut model, the white gold reference 5168G is really the luxury-oriented version of the classic time-and-date Aquanaut, as it offers much of the same core overall aesthetic, just with exclusive dial color options and a slightly larger case to offer more overall wrist presence. 
Patek Philippe's latest range of updated references, newly added to the Aquanaut collection.

Should You Buy a New or Vintage Aquanaut?

Considering that even the oldest Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches were only just produced in the late ‘90s, there aren’t that many major differences between older Aquanaut models and current-production models. Probably the single greatest difference with the modern Aquanaut lineup is the range of additional complications now available. While the very first Aquanaut was a simple time-and-date watch, there are now versions fitted with movements that offer dual time zone displays and even flyback chronograph complications. 

The range of metal options and dial colors available for the Patek Philippe Aquanaut has also expanded over the years. Most people think of the quintessential Aquanaut as a stainless steel watch with a black dial, but Patek Philippe has also offered a gold option from the model’s earliest days. Yellow gold was originally used for the precious metal editions of the Aquanaut, but it’s now been replaced with rose gold and white gold. Similarly, you’ll now find some Aquanaut models fitted with diamond-set bezels, along with dials that can be black, brown, blue, or green, plus a few more luxurious mother of pearl and diamond-paved options.

Bezel’s Aquanaut Picks

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5065A-001

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G-010

Patek Philippe Aquanaut - Tiffany & Co. ref. 5167A-001

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph ref. 5968A-001

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time - Tiffany & Co. ref. 5164R-001

Images: Courtesy of Patek Philippe


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