Though the Patek Philippe Aquanaut is undoubtedly a future watch icon, it’s only twenty-three years old. Introduced in 1997, the Aquanaut took a little time to come into its own and was often seen—and sometimes looked down upon—as the Nautilus’ little brother. In the early days of the Aquanaut, the feeling was that if the Nautilus was the prodigal Doctor son, then the Aquanaut was his younger adventure photographer brother, who, despite his parents’ views otherwise did indeed have a real job. Staying the course, the Aquanaut has come into its own and—like its older brother—commands a premium on the aftermarket and has a long waitlist.
The Khaki green model seen here is one of the newest additions to the Aquanaut line up. The reference 5168G-010 was introduced at Baselworld 2019—RIP—and combines the beefy jumbo case style with a fun military-inspired look. Honestly, if I wasn’t a watch guy, I could be fooled into thinking this was standard issue gear. The main attraction with this piece is the new color combo of the dial and strap. Both have the same geosphere pattern you know and love, but now they’re in what Patek calls Khaki green, and while they’re both labeled the same color, there is a subtle difference.
The green on the dial is a shade lighter than the strap. This might seem odd, but I think it’s a great design choice by Patek Philippe. If the dial were, say, a shade darker, it would be too serious, and if it were lighter, it would come off as pastel. With the strap, I think the darker shade will age better and has a more assertive utilitarian aesthetic. The balance here is excellent, and it drives home the fun, rugged personality of this watch. The only thing that conflicts with this vibe is the case material.
Made entirely of 18k white gold, the famous octagonal porthole-inspired case has beautiful alternating brushed and polished surfaces. The bezel itself is flat and vertically brushed, and the bezel flank is polished. The finishing on the bezel flank is stunning because it looks rounded at a glance, but you can see defined edges playing with the light when you look close. The lugs are short and curved with large polished bevels and have a distinctly sporty look. In general, the jumbo case style, which measures 42mm in diameter by 8.25mm thick, is noticeably brawnier than the 40mm found on the reference 5167. I usually prefer smaller watches given a choice between two case sizes, but I like the proportions of the Jumbo better in this instance.
Powered by the Patek Philippe caliber 324 S C this is an automatic winding movement with a 35-45 hour power reserve. The 324 SC is only 3.3mm thick and required some innovative thinking to reduce the thickness of the movement. Some examples of this are that Patek had to offset the second wheel so as not to interfere with the winding rotor and placed the automatic rotor on the same plane as the hand-winding mechanism. The efficient design and extremely high-level finishing are all in full view via the sapphire display back—which is impressive considering the 120m water resistance.
Complete with the Patek Philippe seal, Giromax balance, and Spiromax balance spring this an advanced and durable, time and date movement. You can count on this watch handling whatever you throw at it and whatever the next generation throws at it too.
The Aquanaut has always been about dispelling outdated notions of a luxury watch. Remember when the Aquanaut first came out, there weren’t really any other timepieces of that quality on rubber straps, and while it was confusing back then, now it’s better understood. This 5168G-010 is analogous to a Tiffany & Co handgun. It’s a bold and sporty but luxurious flex, and it’s a natural evolution for the Aquanaut. A gold Patek Phillipe on a rubber strap makes a bigger statement than a full gold watch ever could, in my opinion. To me, this timepiece basically says, “Your steel is my gold.”