Patek Philippe Nautilus vs. Aquanaut: A Comparison

Patek Philippe Nautilus vs. Aquanaut: A Comparison

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When it comes to luxury watches, Patek Philippe is one of the best. Known for their top-quality craftsmanship and timeless designs, Patek Philippe's watches are truly special. Two of their most famous models are the Nautilus and the Aquanaut.

In this article, we'll compare these two great watches, looking at their histories, designs, and unique features to help you decide which one is right for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Heritage: The Nautilus was launched in 1976, marking a new era of luxury sports watches for Patek Philippe. The Aquanaut debuted in 1997, appealing to a younger audience with its casual yet elegant design. Each watch represents a different chapter in the brand's history.

  • Design: The Nautilus features a classic and sophisticated look with an octagonal bezel and intricate dials. The Aquanaut, on the other hand, has a modern and sporty appearance, highlighted by its rounded case and durable rubber strap.

  • Value: Both the Nautilus and the Aquanaut are prestigious and highly valued. The Nautilus is often more expensive and exclusive due to its iconic status and limited production. The Aquanaut is more accessible in terms of price but still retains significant value.

Patek Philippe Nautilus vs Aquanaut

Patek Philippe is known for luxury, precision, and design. Two of their most famous collections are the Nautilus and the Aquanaut, each with its own unique style. This article will look at the histories, designs, and differences of these popular watches to help you choose the right one for you.

Patek Philippe Nautilus History

The Nautilus was introduced in 1976, designed by the legendary Gérald Genta. It broke away from the traditional round watch cases of the time with its distinctive octagonal bezel, inspired by submarine portholes.

Made primarily from stainless steel, the Nautilus was Patek Philippe's first venture into luxury sports watches, a novel concept in the 1970s. Over the decades, the Nautilus collection expanded to include various models for both men and women, incorporating different materials and complications.

  • 1950s-1960s: Focused on luxury dress watches and functional steel watches.

  • 1970s-1980s: Introduction of luxury sports watches.

  • 1976: Launch of the Nautilus, creating a new category of sports watches.

  • 1980s-1990s: Added models for women and variations in size and materials.

  • 2000s-2020s: Continued to innovate with new features and limited editions

Patek Philippe Aquanaut History

Launched in 1997, the Aquanaut was aimed at a younger audience seeking a more casual luxury watch. Its design was inspired by the Nautilus but introduced a contemporary twist with its rounded case and the distinctive “tropical” composite rubber strap. The Aquanaut's modern look and construction quickly made it a favorite among collectors and newcomers.

  • 1997: Debut of the Aquanaut 5060A.

  • 1998: Introduction of the smaller 5064A model.

  • 'Jumbo' Reference 5065: Updated with a larger case and new movement.

  • 10th Anniversary (2007): Launch of the 516X series.

  • 20th Anniversary: Release of the limited-edition Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5650G.

Differences Between Aquanaut and Nautilus

The Nautilus and Aquanaut, while sharing some design DNA, differ significantly in different aspects, including size, case design, bracelet type, movement options, and pricing.


Both the Nautilus and Aquanaut typically feature a 40mm case size. However, the Nautilus appears larger due to its 43mm wing tip-to-wing tip and 44mm lug-to-lug measurements. The Aquanaut, while bigger in appearance, is actually slightly slimmer.


The Nautilus is known for its unique hinged design with two distinctive “tabs” or “ears” on either side, giving it an architectural look reminiscent of a porthole. In contrast, the Aquanaut opts for a more traditional, rounded case without the hinged structure, resulting in a cleaner and more streamlined appearance.


The Nautilus offers a choice between a luxurious leather strap and a sleek metal bracelet, typically crafted from stainless steel. The hand-polished links of the Nautilus bracelet undergo extensive finishing operations to achieve their final, comfortable design. The Aquanaut, however, features a “tropical” composite rubber strap with a grid pattern, designed to be ultra-resistant to wear, salt water, and UV radiation, providing a modern and durable alternative.


Both the Nautilus and the Aquanaut come with self-winding and quartz movement options. Self-winding models like the Nautilus 7118/1200A and the Aquanaut 5167A are celebrated for their precision and craftsmanship, featuring rotors crafted from 21K or 22K gold. Quartz models, such as the Nautilus 7010/1R and the Aquanaut 5067A-024, offer reliable and low-maintenance alternatives.


Patek Philippe watches are very exclusive and have a high price. The Nautilus is usually more expensive because it is iconic and produced in limited numbers. The Aquanaut is more affordable but still holds its value well and can be a good investment. Both models tend to increase in value over time, showing their high demand and quality craftsmanship.



Top 3 Popular Models of Aquanaut

  1. Aquanaut 5167A: Known for its modern sporty design and self-winding movement.

  2. Aquanaut Chronograph 5968A: Features a chronograph function, adding complexity to its sporty look.

  3. Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5650G: Limited edition, known for its innovative features and high value.



Top 3 Popular Models of Nautilus

  1. Nautilus 5711/1A: Iconic model, highly sought after and known for its classic design.

  2. Nautilus 7118/1200A: Self-winding model, showcasing Patek Philippe's expertise.

  3. Nautilus 5990/1A: Known for its multifunctionality, including a chronograph and travel time complication.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Aquanaut comes down to what you like. The Nautilus has a classic and elegant design with detailed dials, perfect for those who appreciate traditional craftsmanship. The Aquanaut offers a modern, sporty look with its strong rubber strap and fresh style. Both models show Patek Philippe's dedication to quality, so either one is a great choice for a luxury watch.