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Aquanaut Vs Nautilus: Patek Philippe’s Dive Watch Showdown

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Aquanaut Vs Nautilus: Patek Philippe's Dive Watch Showdown

Patek Philippe is renowned for its precision and artistry. Among Patek Philippe watch esteemed collection, the Aquanaut and Nautilus stand out for their exceptional craftsmanship and iconic designs.

The Aquanaut and the Nautilus Collection, each with its distinct allure, embark on a silent duel of elegance and innovation in the luxury watch. The former draws admirers with its modern, sporty aesthetic and the latter with its classic, sophisticated charm.

In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between the Aquanaut and Nautilus. From design to functionality, we’ll guide you through choosing the right watch for you.

Nautilus Vs Aquanaut: At a Glance


To provide a clearer understanding of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut and Nautilus, we present a comparison table highlighting their key features.

FeaturePatek Philippe AquanautPatek Philippe Nautilus
Size40mm case, slightly slimmer than Nautilus40mm case, 43mm wing tip to wing tip, 44mm lug to lug
CaseTraditional design, rounded and masculineHinged design, rounded octagonal shape
Bracelet“Tropical” composite rubber strap with grid patternMetal bracelet or leather strap, hand-polished links
MovementAvailable with self-winding and quartz movementAvailable with self-winding and quartz movement
Dial DesignSimple and sporty, often with a geometric patternMore intricate, often featuring horizontal embossed lines
Water ResistanceGenerally up to 120 metersGenerally up to 120 meters
ComplicationsTypically simpler, focusing on time and dateOften features more complications, such as chronograph or moon phase
PriceMore affordable, but still increases in valueExpensive, increases in value

Key insight: The Aquanaut and Nautilus by Patek Philippe differ significantly in design, complexity, and audience appeal. Launched in 1997, the Aquanaut offers a sporty aesthetic with a simple dial and a durable “Tropical” rubber strap, aiming for modern simplicity at a more accessible price. 

The Nautilus, introduced in 1976, exudes classic sophistication with its iconic octagonal case, intricate dials, and complex features like chronographs, appealing to those seeking luxury and detailed craftsmanship at a higher price point.


Launched in 1976, the Nautilus was a groundbreaking addition to the world of luxury watches. Designed by the legendary Gérald Genta, its octagonal case was inspired by submarine portholes, marking a departure from the traditional round cases of the time. This innovative design, combined with its robust stainless steel construction, positioned the Nautilus as a luxury sports watch, a novel concept in the 1970s.

Evolution of the Nautilus

  • 1950s-1960s: The era was dominated by luxury dress watches and functional steel watches.
  • 1970s-1980s: The luxury sports watch category emerged, with the Royal Oak leading the way.
  • 1976: The Nautilus made its debut, introducing a new genre of sports watches.
  • 1980s-1990s: The Nautilus line expanded to include women’s models and variations in size and materials.
  • 2000s-2020s: Patek Philippe continued to innovate, introducing advanced complications and celebrating anniversaries with limited edition releases.

On the flip side, introduced in 1997, the Aquanaut was Patek Philippe’s answer to a changing market, appealing to a younger audience seeking casual luxury. Its design was inspired by the Nautilus, featuring a similar “porthole” case but with a more contemporary and sporty aesthetic. The Aquanaut’s “tropical” strap, made of a composite material resistant to wear and tear, further distinguished it as a modern luxury timepiece.

Journey of the Aquanaut

  • 1997: The debut of the Aquanaut 5060A, a mid-sized stainless-steel watch with a fresh design.
  • 1998: The introduction of the smaller 5064A model.
  • The ‘Jumbo’ Reference 5065: An update with a larger case and new movement.
  • 10th Anniversary (2007): The launch of the 516X series, adding new dimensions to the collection.
  • 20th Anniversary: The release of the limited-edition Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5650G.

Design and Aesthetics

Both the Nautilus and Aquanaut have similar case sizes around 40mm, but the Nautilus looks larger due to its 43mm wing tip to wing tip and 44mm lug to lug measurements. The Aquanaut has a more traditional, rounded case, making it appear robust and masculine. Despite looking bulkier, the Aquanaut is slightly slimmer than the Nautilus.

One of the most striking differences between the two models is the case shape design.

  • The Nautilus’s unique hinged structure features two distinctive “tabs” or “ears” on either side, giving it a unique architectural look reminiscent of a porthole. 
  • The Aquanaut, while still drawing inspiration from the porthole motif, opts for a more conventional case design without the hinged structure. This results in a cleaner, more streamlined appearance that appeals to those who prefer a less ornate aesthetic.

The dials of the Nautilus and Aquanaut further differentiate the two models.

  • The Nautilus is known for its intricate dial, often featuring horizontal embossed lines that add depth and texture to its face. 
  • In contrast, the Aquanaut’s dial is simpler and sportier, with a more straightforward geometric pattern that enhances its modern and youthful vibe.

As for the discontinuation of the Nautilus, it’s important to note that only specific models, such as the Nautilus 5711, have been discontinued. Patek Philippe’s decision to discontinue the Nautilus 5711 model makes sense to a strategic move to preserve the collection’s exclusivity and appeal. Limiting its availability enhances its desirability among collectors and allows the brand to innovate and introduce new designs, such as the anticipated 6711 successor.

Functionality and Movement

The Patek Philippe Nautilus and Aquanaut models showcase exemplary engineering through their movement options. Both lines offer self-winding and quartz movements, catering to different preferences in watch mechanics.

The self-winding models, such as the Nautilus 7118/1200A and the Aquanaut Chronograph 5968A or Aquanaut 5167A, exemplify Patek Philippe’s dedication to precision and craftsmanship.

  • These watches feature a rotor that automatically winds the mainspring as it responds to the wearer’s wrist movements. 
  • Notably, the rotors are crafted from 21K or 22K gold, a choice that is both aesthetic and functional. 
  • The high specific gravity of gold enhances the efficiency of kinetic energy yield, ensuring optimal winding of the mainspring.

For those who prioritize convenience and reliability, both the Nautilus and Aquanaut offer quartz movement options. The Nautilus 7010/1R and the Aquanaut 5067A-024 are equipped with quartz movements that boast a battery life of approximately three years. 

In comparing the two models, the Nautilus 7118/1200A and the Aquanaut 5167A stand out for their self-winding mechanical movements, which are a testament to the brand’s horological expertise. On the other hand, the quartz options in both lines offer a practical alternative for those seeking low-maintenance precision.

Bracelet and Comfort

The bracelet design and materials are key distinguishing features between the Patek Philippe Aquanaut and Nautilus models. The Nautilus offers a choice between a luxurious leather strap and a sleek metal bracelet, typically crafted from stainless steel making it an ideal dress watch.

  • The stainless steel bracelet is renowned for its smooth, hand-polished links, which undergo 55 different hand-finishing operations to achieve their final, comfortable design.

In contrast, the Aquanaut boasts a more contemporary and unconventional approach with its “tropical” composite rubber strap.

  • This strap features a distinctive grid-like pattern and is designed to be ultra-resistant to wear, salt water, and UV radiation.

Despite its modern material, the Aquanaut strap maintains a high level of comfort comparable to the Nautilus bracelet. While the Nautilus is known for its classic elegance and smooth metal or leather options, the Aquanaut stands out with its modern, durable rubber strap, providing both comfort and a unique style.

Price and Availability

The Patek Philippe Nautilus, launched in 1976, has seen its price escalate due to its distinctive design and limited production making it a high end sports watch. With the brand producing around 50,000 watches annually, only a small portion are Nautilus models, enhancing their rarity and appeal.

In contrast, the Aquanaut, introduced in 1997, serves as the more accessible option, yet it also maintains its value over time, similar to the Nautilus. While the Nautilus is often viewed as the more prestigious investment due to its iconic status and scarcity, the Aquanaut’s growing popularity and lower price point present a compelling choice for those seeking a high-quality Patek Philippe timepiece.

Market Trends

  • Nautilus Market Index: Prices have decreased by 8.9% in the past 180 days, with sales ranging from S$64,215 to S$656,896. The most sought-after model is the 5711/1A.
  • Aquanaut Market Index: Prices have dropped by 6.4% in the same period, with prices ranging from S$37,178 to S$197,552. The 5168G model is the most popular.

Considering market trends and availability between these two watches, the Aquanaut offers better value for those looking to invest in a Patek Philippe. Its lower entry price and smaller depreciation make it a wise choice for both collectors and newcomers to luxury watches. The Nautilus, while prestigious, comes with a higher investment risk due to its significant price fluctuations and higher initial cost. Choose the Aquanaut for a balanced blend of luxury, value retention, and accessibility.

Top 3 Popular Models of Aquanaut

1. Patek Philippe Aquanaut – White Gold & Blue Dial Ref No. 5168G

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5168G-001

Market Price

  • Market Price: S$72,795
  • Retail Price: S$49,370


Introduced in 2017, this model features a 42.2mm white gold case paired with a striking blue dial and matching strap. Powered by the Patek Philippe caliber 324 S C movement, it offers hours, minutes, seconds, and a date function. The watch is water-resistant up to 120 meters and has an open back design showcasing the intricate movement.

2. Patek Philippe Aquanaut – Stainless Steel & Black Dial Ref No. 5167A

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167A-001

Market Price

  • Market Price: S$68,900
  • Retail Price: S$35,400


Equipped with the self-winding caliber 324 S C movement, this timepiece features a 40mm stainless steel cushion-shaped case, a sapphire-crystal case back, and water resistance up to 120 meters. The embossed black dial showcases gold-applied numerals with a luminescent coating, paired with a “Tropical” composite black rubber strap and a fold-over clasp.

3. Patek Philippe Aquanaut – Rose Gold & Brown Dial Ref No. 5167R

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167R-001

Market Price

  • Market Price: S$71,353
  • Retail Price: S$45,720


Featuring an 18k white gold case, this watch showcases a captivating blue embossed dial with luminescent gold applied numerals for enhanced visibility. It includes a date display and sweep seconds hand, combining functionality with style. The 120-meter water resistance and durable blue composite strap make it suitable for various activities, ensuring both elegance and practicality.

Top 3 Popular Model of Nautilus

1. Patek Philippe Nautilus – Stainless Steel & Blue Dial Ref No. 5711/1A

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A-001

Market Price

  • Market Price: S$121,824
  • Retail Price: S$46,900


Combining a striking blue dial with a luxurious white gold case, this model offers a modern twist on traditional elegance. It features an automatic movement, making it both stylish and functional for everyday wear. With its iconic stainless steel cushion-shaped case and blue dial, this timepiece sets a benchmark in the world of luxury sports watches.

2. Patek Philippe Nautilus – Stainless Steel & Blue Dial Ref No. 5712/1A


Market Price

  • Market Price: S$133,885
  • Retail Price: S$74,200


Crafted in luxurious white gold, featuring a moonphase display, this timepiece combines functionality with elegance, offering a glimpse of the lunar cycle on its blue dial. The stainless steel case measures 40mm in diameter, providing a sleek and comfortable fit on the wrist. With a water resistance of 60 meters, it is suitable for everyday wear and light water activities.

3. Patek Philippe Nautilus – Stainless Steel & Black Dial Ref No. 5726/1A

Patek Philippe Nautilus - Stainless Steel & Black Dial 5726-1A

Market Price

  • Market Price: S$133,596
  • Retail Price: S$81,600


The model features a sophisticated white gold case paired with a striking blue embossed dial, embodying a luxurious take on a sporty design. It is powered by a precision-engineered caliber 324 S C movement and boasts water resistance up to 120 meters, making it both elegant and functional for everyday wear. It includes an annual calendar and moonphase complication, showcasing a mastery of combining technical prowess with iconic design.

Final Word

Patek Philippe Aquanaut and Nautilus are both exceptional timepieces that cater to different tastes and lifestyles. When choosing between the two, consider your personal style, the level of exclusivity you desire, and the potential for long-term value appreciation. Ultimately, owning either a Nautilus or an Aquanaut is a testament to refined taste and a passion for horological craftsmanship.

Key Takeaways

  • The Nautilus offers classic elegance with its unique case design and metal or leather bracelets, making it a symbol of sophistication and a prestigious investment.
  • The Aquanaut presents a more modern, sporty appeal with its durable “tropical” rubber strap and simpler dial, appealing to those seeking casual luxury and versatility.
  • Both timepieces hold significant investment potential, with their value appreciating over time, making them not just watches but valuable assets.

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