Insider: Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167. A Watch Perfectly Suited for the Springtime.

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167A-001 is the perfect sporty yet elegant watch for the Spring and Summer months. Since today is March 21st, and it's officially the Spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, we thought it would be appropriate to welcome the warmer weather with a watch that is perfectly suited for water activities and hot humid swelling wrists thanks to its rubber 'tropical' strap. Furthermore, this year Patek Philippe will be celebrating its 175th anniversary and we only wonder what Baselworld 2014 will have in store for us.

This wonderful and iconic Patek Philippe sometimes referred to as the 'perfect first Patek' or even negatively called by tasteless collectors as the 'poor man's Patek' or the 'Daewoo of Pateks' is nothing but exceptional. Frankly, every time we hear these type of comments when it comes to timepieces, we feel sorry for those making them.

The iconic Patek Philippe Aquanaut was originally launched in 1997 under ref. 5065 'Jumbo' —measuring 38 mm in diameter— or as ref. 5066 'Mid-Size' —measuring 36 mm—, as a casual Patek alternative with lines and design slightly inspired by the iconic Nautilus. The Aquanaut, is the only Patek Philippe watch fitted with a rubber strap and ready to take on all types of activities inside or outside the water.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5066. Photo by noonan from PuristSPro Collectors Market.

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167A-001 is fitted with a stainless steel case measuring 40 mm in diameter —2 mm larger than its predecessor— with highly polished and satin-brushed finished areas and a slightly rounded octagonal shape, the Aquanaut is a watch that comes with great proportions and a timeless design. The embossed black dial —ruthenium looking with a brownish hue— features white gold applied Arabic numerals and a white minute track.

Since its launch, the dial on the Aquanaut was meant to replicate the attractive texture of the strap; however, we feel that the current dial looks less like the strap and more like the earth globe with wedges from where it takes some of its inspiration. Frankly, we personally prefer the original dial with raised 'guilloché' square pattern and the perfectly balanced look with the '3' Arabic number next to the date aperture. Regardless, this watch is ready for those watchlifestylers seeking a more inconspicuous wrist presence without compromising quality, elegance or price value. Furthermore, the fact that we watch is fitted with a screw-down crown and waterproof to a 120 meters, makes it a perfectly suited timepiece to be worn on the beach or by the pool while sporting your Vilebrequin trunks.

The 'tropical' rubber strap takes its inspiration from the vintage 'tropic' straps from the 60s and 70s and is equipped with a very elegant double-folding clasp than when fastened showcases the iconic 'Calatrava' cross used by Patek Philippe in bass-relief. One great thing about the ref. 5167 versus its predecessor ref. 5065/5066, is that the strap is perfectly flushed against the case providing a more elegant and seamless look.

For those of you interested in world history, the 'Calatrava' cross was the emblem used by the first military order founded in Castile, Spain and confirmed as a Militia by Pope Alexander III on September 26, 1164. 'Calatrava' means "Fortress of Rabah" and is also the name of a castle in Spain recovered from the Moors in 1147. The 'Calatrava' cross was originally worn by the Order Calatrava —composed by monks that later became knights— as a red Greek cross with fleur-de-lis ends.

The strap also features the 'Calatrava' cross on its interior and its rubber composite is very supple and quite malleable. Perhaps the biggest downside to this strap, is the fact that it needs to be cut to the size of your wrist with no room for error and making it quite difficult to get the exact perfect fit. Now, if you are one of those watchlifestylers that likes to flip watches constantly and your wrist is on the smaller side, be prepared to add an additional brand new strap when selling your watch as most buyers with larger wrists won't be interested in buying from you.

The beating heart inside this Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5167 is the automatic calibre 324 S C composed of 213 parts, 29 jewels, six bridges and which provides a power reserve of 45 hours when fully wound while beating at a frequency of 28,800 vph. One downside of this calibre is the lack of hacking seconds that prevents the wearer from an accurate time setting operation. The calibre is fully visible via the display case back and as with any other Patek a real treat for the eyes.

On the wrist, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut is quite comfortable but a watch that wears slightly smaller than its actual size. If you are a watchlifestyler that has to wear a Patek everywhere you go, then the Aquanaut is a must have in your collection. Paired with the right Vilebrequin trunks during a nice relaxing week in Saint-Tropez will show others that you know about watches and the good life.

The Aquanaut is also available as ref. 5165 measuring 38 mm in diameter, in 18K rose gold ref. 5167R, in stainless steel with matching bracelet ref. 5167/1 and in three different colors for the ladies model under ref. 5067.

Sticker Price $20,300 USD. For more info on Patek Philippe click here.