Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5164G

Ibet most people have a watch they’ve convinced themselves they’re going to have one day, no matter how out of reach it might always be. The Patek ref. 5164 has long been my white whale. Like James Stacey, I’m a lover of a versatile GMT, and the Aquanaut is – in my opinion – the king.
When I wrote about the discontinuation of the ref. 5164A, I called it a “fan-favorite.” That might be a bit much to say about a watch that cost over $40,000 and was nearly completely unobtainable by anyone but VIPs at Patek, but it was a great watch to imagine wearing and even better if you could actually get lucky enough to own one. The cool design, comfortable strap, and the sporty specs (from water-resistance to steel case) and black colorway all made it the pinnacle of “quiet luxury” before quiet luxury was a thing.

There’s an elegance to the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, which hasn’t changed with the new ref. 5164G. I wear my Rolex GMT-Master II almost every time I travel, but there’s something so cool about the tactile experience of using the pushers on the left-hand side of the case. While it’s relatively easy to use a “flyer” GMT to set your new timezone (unscrew the crown and pull out to the appropriate position to jump the hour forward or back), there’s nothing like using the pushers on the ref. 5164. The top pusher advances the hour hand by one hour for each click, while the bottom takes the hour back. Either way, a skeletonized hour hand keeps tracking your home time but hides, uncluttering the dial wh Two apertures track day or night in the home and local time zone (blue for night, white for day). It’s a beautiful symmetrical watch with the date on a subdial at 6 o’clock. This type of design has a long history at Patek, dating back to the early 1960s with the ref. 2597 Travel Time Calatrava. As James Stacey mentioned in his Hands-On with the 5164R in 2019, the movement in the 2597 originated from the mind of Louis Cottier – the father of the worldtime – which means that any ref. 5164 follows in an important linage of creativity. But the bold design and sportiness of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time is probably far beyond what Cottier could have ever imagined. While the ref. 5164A is no longer available, Patek’s choice to continue the long-running reference with another new version in precious metal was somewhat predictable. I had hoped that Patek would introduce a new Aquanaut Travel Time with a new reference in steel. It would have likely been the biggest release of Watches & Wonders in a quiet year like this, but it wouldn’t have been in line with the brand’s decision to avoid steel sports models for now.

It also wouldn’t have made much sense as the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164 remained in the catalog in rose gold, so two generations of watches being in the catalog together was unlikely. The new white gold version brings back a white-metal option to the catalog, using the same caliber 26‑330 S C FUS movement, so yes, this is mostly a case metal and dial/strap color change. But it also changes how the watch wears on the wrist. The Aquanaut Travel Time continues to be one of the most comfortable-wearing sports watches on the market, with a great custom-cut rubber strap and a deployant clasp. The case still measures a slim 10.2mm thick with a 40.8mm measurement from 2 to 8 o’clock. The lugs also drop down nicely to hug the wrist. But in gold, the watch starts to feel top-heavy, a problem with many precious metal sports watches on straps instead of bracelets – that heavy case material can throw off the balance. It also means that Patek has reduced the sportiness of the watch in another, more practical way, with the water resistance now down to 30m from 120m from the 5164A. This is not just a change for the 5164G but also an updated specification for the 5164R and all other Aquanuat and Nautilus models. Either metal came with a display caseback, but unfortunately, the new water resistance makes me a little more hesitant to imagine taking the Aquanaut into – well – the aqua. However, the question of fit and balance is a personal preference, just like the new dial color. While Rolex has a penchant for giving options on options of colors to fit different customers’ preferences, that’s not the path Patek likes to take. Just like their confidence in the materials they want to use (customer demand be damned), they also have a strong design sense. After a few quiet years of releases, I would have imagined Patek would have wanted the “pop” of hype that would have come with releasing a “khaki” Aquanaut Travel Time in white gold or something bolder in platinum. But, there’s probably something to be said for Patek trying to continue to cool demand. Prices for the 5164A have slowly decreased, not to retail, but it’s a start.

Instead, we got the opaline blue-gray dial, embossed Aquanaut pattern, and white gold case and a $63,040 price tag. Based on the photos, I was afraid the dial would be too light blue to be wearable for someone like me who likes something more low-key. While it’s not the classic 5164A I’ve dreamed of for years, it seems darker in person and shifts with the light. That means it feels like it could be a decent daily wear option if you’re so lucky. It will be a bit longer before I get the Aquanaut Travel Time of my dreams. While it’s not the watch I wanted to see, it’s the one we’ve got. Undoubtedly, the 5164G will stick around for a while to continue on the now 13-year run of the reference (the longest-lived reference in the catalog, I believe). It seems unlikely that Patek would kill a new release just to introduce a brand-new model one year later. In the meantime, plenty of people will enjoy the new 5164G. To steal a line from James, it remains my pick for the coolest modern Patek Philippe. I’ll still keep my dream of an Aquanaut Travel Time in steel, but this is the watch I need right now, while I save up a bit more for the day that Patek brings back my white whale. For more information on the new Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164G, including complete specs, read our “Introducing” post or visit Patek Philippe’s website.

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