Watch Drop: The Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5968G in Khaki

A modern classic by most accounts, Patek Philippe's Aquanaut collection has been expanded as they continue to push their boundaries and bring us some of watchmaking's hottest designs. 
By Aaron Voyles

When we look at sports watches as a category within horology, the overarching theme through the 70s until very recently has been the migration from precious metal cases to stainless steel - which was initially seen as ‘inferior’. Arguably the zeitgeist of 1970s and 1980s horology, this shift, buoyed by the invention of the quartz movement, led brands to create new timepieces that pushed boundaries and relied on their own design more so than the brand's name, prestigious heritage or any other pre-qualifying trait. Kicked off by the AP Royal Oak, this movement has had a long-lasting impression on watchmaking which we still see today and arguably in the watch I'm about to discuss today.

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The Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 3700, the first Nautilus released in 1976.


The Aquanaut's Heritage

Before getting into the latest release, I would like to examine the Aquanaut's lineage through time that led to its creation and journey to where it is today. Inspired by the Patek Philippe Nautilus (itself inspired by the AP Royal Oak), the Aquanaut was released in 1997 as a stainless steel luxury sports watch designed to cater towards the needs of younger clientele. The first Patek Philippe fitted on a rubber strap; the Aquanaut suffered the same reaction as its predecessor, with Patek's usual clients disheartened by Patek's supposed move down-market.

Throughout its history, the Aquanaut has evolved with precious metal variants, gem-set variants and in 2007, a massive update which took the collection to where it is today. No longer in the Nautilus' shadows, the Aquanaut has displayed an uncanny ability to play to the market's demands with impressive accuracy and stand with confidence in its design. As such, the Aquanaut has since become one of Patek's most desirable models, with its complicated variants existing as the most sought-after of all.

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The Aquanaut Chronograph ref. 5968G

In contrast to the watch market of the 70s and 80s, whereby stainless steel came to the fore, precious metal sports watches have become incredibly popular recently as gold and platinum became the most desirable materials in high-end luxury sports watches like the Aquanaut. While offered initially in stainless steel, the Aquanaut, alongside several other watches from plenty of competing brands, have begun to double down on precious metals as they start to push what were once entry-level watches upmarket.

While the Patek Philippe Aquanaut has existed within a precious metal case before, and with a chronograph movement (which was housed in stainless steel), in 2021, Patek Philippe decided to merge these two worlds and create a timepiece that catered to modern collectors. By playing to the current demands of the market, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph ref. 5968G has been born, and it is a beauty.

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Offered in two colourways, this khaki or blue timepiece plays to the ever-evolving trends surrounding colour that operate within the watch market today. In addition, the ref. 5968G also introduces a stunning white gold case to the Aquanaut Chronograph collection, which was previously just one watch by itself, the black dial ref. 5968A.

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With green standing firmly as the new black these days, it would only be fair to focus on the Khaki variant of the latest Aquanaut release, the ref. 5968G-010. Featuring a Khaki green dial with the iconic "Aquanaut" pattern, as Patek calls it, the ref. 5968G departs from the stainless-steel ref. 5968A's design (its sibling Aquanaut chronograph), due to its lack of a tertiary colour, which is orange in the case of the ref. 5968A. With its clean khaki green and white design, the ref. 5968G plays upon the stealth wealth aesthetic that its 42.2mm diameter by 11.9mm thickness white gold case radiates.

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Featuring a dial-matching khaki green rubber strap with a chequerboard pattern, much like what is on its dial, the ref. 5968G plays to the strength of its predecessors while building the collection out as a viable luxury sports watch for the modern collector. Packing 120m of water resistance, an incredibly legible dial thanks to its white gold Arabic numerals and 60-minute chronograph subdial at 6 o'clock, the ref. 5968G is an appropriately updated version of the Aquanaut's stainless steel chronograph that capitalises on its own stunning design while also heeding the market's current trends. 

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This, in turn, brings the model closer to Patek's heritage as a precious metal-focused watchmaker and allows Patek to expand the collection while keeping it modern and appeasing the demands of the very same demographic that sought a stainless steel sports watch like the Aquanaut in the late 90s.

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The Movement

Powered by the very same in-house integrated automatic flyback chronograph movement that is found within the stainless-steel Aquanaut Chronograph 5968A that Patek released three years ago, the ref. 5968G is as technically profound as you would expect. Measuring in at 30mm in diameter and 6.63mm thick, the cal. CH 28-520 C is a compact movement and packs a relatively impressive 45-55 hours of power reserve, depending on the amount you use the chronograph function. Featuring a column wheel and a vertical clutch with flyback functionality, the cal. CH 28-520 C is a fantastic expression of Patek's watchmaking prowess, which they have decided to display behind an exhibition caseback. With its 21kt gold winding rotor, beautiful finishing and stunning architecture, the cal. CH 28-520 C is the cherry on top of this exquisite timepiece.

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Quick Take

A wonderfully modern take on one of their most iconic modern designs, the new Aquanaut Chronograph ref. 596G does precisely what is needed of it as a modern luxury sports watch. Merging its beloved aesthetic with rich engineering and exclusive white gold, this timepiece pushes the Aquanaut from its stainless-steel roots and into the territory of precious metals in keeping with the demands of the modern watch market. While its colour and movement might not be straight out of the oven, the combination of those factors within its white gold case have certainly filled a gap in Patek's offering. I don't think this is the last we have seen of the Aquanaut Chronograph's updates, but if Patek has taught us anything in recent years, it's to expect the unexpected!

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Specifications

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph
Reference number:  5968G-010
Case size: 42.2mm
Thickness: 11.9mm
Material: White gold
Crystal: Scratch-resistant Sapphire Crystal
Water-resistance: 12 bar/120 metres/400 feet
Movement:  CH 28-520 C 
Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, flyback chronograph,  date 
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 bph
Power reserve: 45-55 hours
Strap: Khaki Rubber 
Availability: Regular Production

For further information, visit Patek Philippe online
 

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