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Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G
Referencecheck

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G

By Aaron Voyles
14 May 2024
7 min read

Here's all you need to know about Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G

The Origins

Debuting in 1997, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut was released to engage with a new kind of clientele - a younger, sportier, and trendier watch collector that was newly minted on the back of the dot.com stock market explosion. Released under the same premise as the Nautilus when it was released in 1976 – a trendy sports watch for a new clientele, the Aquanaut raised suspicions from Patek’s traditional collectors with its position as the first Patek to feature a rubber strap – something collectors saw as a cheap design option at the time. Following on from its debut, the Aquanaut has grown into a rather diverse collection of iconic and sought-after timepieces, with the reference we have here standing as one of the most desirable, the 18k white gold ref. 5168G.

While the latest generation of the Aquanaut was released in 2007 with an updated aesthetic, the ref. 5168G was launched in 2017 as a 20th-anniversary model. Merging the Aquanaut’s robust sports-oriented functionality with a luxurious 18kt white gold construction and Patek Philippe’s holy trinity finishing, the end result is a sports watch with very few equals. Pushing its elegant design to the limit, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G features an 18k white gold 42.2mm case, which houses a stunning blue dial with a subtle graduation from its bright blue centre to a navy-black along its periphery with the Aquanaut’s signature horizontal embossing across its entire surface. An incredibly luxurious and wonderfully designed timepiece, the ref. 5168G indeed has it all.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G
Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G

Debuting as Patek Philippe’s second sports watch, the Aquanaut was built upon the foundations that the Nautilus had already laid twenty years prior, while also expanding into new territory that the Nautilus and Patek Philippe as a whole had never resided within before. Released in 1997, the Aquanaut updated the Nautilus’ sporty design so as to offer greater performance while also remaining trendy and stylish, so as to speak to a new younger clientele. Additionally, the Aquanaut boasted Patek Philippe’s renowned craftsmanship as Patek Philippe sought to appease their traditional customer base and maintain the standards that had earned them their place within the watchmaking hierarchy.

Sporting a tropical rubber strap – a first for Patek at the time, a softened octagonal bezel and an interestingly textured dial, the Aquanaut began life with a rather slow start, but eventually found its footing in the marketplace. With 120m of water resistance and its casual aesthetic, the Aquanaut forged its place within Patek’s catalogue, a place that it has today rightfully kept since the collection’s debut. As one might imagine, the Aquanaut has seen several references join its ranks, and the most exclusive of them all is the ref. 5168G that we are exploring today.

Debuting in 2017 to celebrate the Aquanaut’s 20th anniversary, the ref. 5168G ushered in a new era for the Aquanaut as it brought the collection into the realm of true luxury thanks to its 18k white gold case that merged the Aquanaut’s robust sports-oriented functionality with Patek Philippe’s more luxurious side.

Case and Dial

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G
Aquanaut’s lugs give the watch a more casual aesthetic than the Nautilus as it more closely resembles a typical watch that you might see every day

Perhaps the Aquanaut’s most obvious link to the Nautilus is its case shape and construction. Famed for its soft octagonal shape, the Nautilus’ imprint on the Aquanaut is obvious, with the corners of the Aquanaut’s eight-sided bezel even softer than its sibling. Additionally, another link to the Nautilus’ case is the shape of the Aquanaut’s crown guards which resemble the porthole hinges that flank either side of the Nautilus’ case. Adding some individuality to the Aquanaut’s case are its lugs, which give the watch a more casual aesthetic than the Nautilus simply as it more closely resembles a typical watch that you might see every day directly as a result.

With the introduction of the ref. 5168G, the Aquanaut was given its largest diameter yet of 42.2mm, an increase of 1.4mm on the ref. 5167 that had previously occupied the top spot as the largest Aquanaut you could get your hands on. Additionally, while its diameter is enlarged, the ref. 5168G’s proportions and profile remain largely unchanged with a case thickness of just 8.3mm, meaning the ref. 5168G is just as slim a watch as the ref. 5167.

Moving past its larger case brings us to what resides inside of it, the ref. 5168G’s dial. Originally only offered in a sunburst blue, the reference was expanded upon with a khaki green dial variant in 2019 that gives the Aquanaut a decidedly militaristic aesthetic. Sporting the same grenade-like pattern as before, the ref. 5168G’s dial remains identifiable as the dial for an Aquanaut, but with the same refined thin lines and sharp corners as previous modern Aquanauts.

The Movement

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G
The caliber 26-330 SC features innovations that improve the efficiency and longevity of its base caliber, the cal. 324, such as a Gyromax balance and a Spiromax® balance spring

Powered the ref. 5168G is the automatic cal. 26-330 S C movement, a testament to Patek Philippe's relentless pursuit of mechanical excellence. This movement, visible through the ref. 5168G’s sapphire crystal caseback, features innovations that improve the efficiency and longevity of its base caliber, the cal. 324, such as a Gyromax balance and a Spiromax® balance spring. While its power reserve is only 35-45 hours, which is quite poor, the cal. 26-330 S C is what enables the ref. 5168G’s case to remain so thin, so in lieu of a shorter power reserve as other sports watches you get a more sleek and elegant watch.

Celeb Love

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G
Celebrities such as Tom Holland, Dave, Jack Grealish, Shawn Mendes, Stephen Gerrard and many more have been spotted wearing their ref. 5168G

Of course, as a sports watch from Patek, the Aquanaut ref. 5168G, in both of its colors, has proven to be immensely popular with celebrities who favour it for its toned-down and casual presence on the wrist thanks to its rubber strap and softer lines than a watch like the Nautilus, making it an easier watch to wear when trying to fly under the radar. With the understated nature of 18k white gold benefiting celebrities who don’t want to appear to flashy, the ref. 5168G has been a nature fit for a lot of the rich and famous’ lives. Celebrities such as Tom Holland, Dave, Jack Grealish, Shawn Mendes, Stephen Gerrard and many more have been spotted wearing their ref. 5168G out and about.

Market Performance

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G
The blue dial variant of the ref. 5168 comes with a market value of $83000, for a price premium of 65%

Like other sports watches from high-end brands like Patek Philippe, the Aquanaut is a truly sought-after watch across the board. Thanks to its rubber strap, even in 18k white gold, the ref. 5168G comes in at a relatively affordable MSRP of $50300. With its tight supply and the sought-after nature of its two colorful dial options, the ref. 5168G can currently fetch a price of $84500 on the open market for the khaki green variant, which is a price premium of 69% over its retail price. Coming in just less is the blue dial with a market value of $83000, for a price premium of 65%.

While blue dials are typically the most sought-after dials on the open market, the reason for the discrepancy between the two ref. 5168G variants is the shorter production period of the khaki green variant. Launched in 2019 as opposed to the blue’s 2017 launch, there are fewer on the market, and as a result they see greater relative demand, which in turn makes them harder to get from Patek as people join the waiting list for them in hope to get this rare beast.

Check out the live performance of Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G at The Wristcheck Index