A few years ago, Patek Philippe introduced a new Ref. 5980/1A with a white dial (for laymen: that’s the Nautilus Chronograph). We at Monochrome Watches were a bit surprised to discover, at Baselworld 2014, that Patek had already discontinued the steel 5980/1A model and replaced it with a steel Nautilus Chronograph with a second time zone, like the one in the Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5164.
That means that the 5980/1A-019 (the white-dial Nautilus Chrono) will have been in production for only two years. Since we’re talking about Patek here, productions numbers are rather low, and this reference is now a very rare bird which we expect to become very collectible. Although the other steel 5980/1A models are not as rare (but super-rare compared to a Rolex Submariner, for instance), we would not be surprised to see their prices climb now that the demand can no longer be fulfilled at Patek boutiques but only on the secondary market. But now, let’s take a look at the model that joined the Nautilus family 2014, whose additional second-time-zone function works just like the one in the aforementioned Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, introduced in 2011 (see here).
On the dial, we see the chronograph register at 6 o’clock, and, similar to that on the Aquanaut Travel Time, it features a pointer-date, positioned on the upper part of the dial. The date indication is connected to the local time, which is your travel destination. When traveling, it can be adjusted both forward and backward, to follow the date of the time zone where you are. To the left and right on the dial are two small apertures, which indicate day and night in both the local time zone and the home time zone. The chronograph pushers – to start, stop and reset to zero – are located on the left-hand side of the case, just like on the Nautilus Chronograph Ref. 5980/1A. Where the old 5980/1A had a 60-minute and 12-hour register for measuring elapsed time, the ref. 5990/1A has just one 60-minute counter. While you won’t be able to measure how long that intercontinental flight took anymore, the changed subdial is cleaner and easier to read. And with the additional pointer-date register, that’s a good thing.
On the left-hand side of the case are two pushers for changing the local time zone when you’re traveling. Design-wise, Patek Philippe did very well here, because these pushers look like the typical “ears” of the Nautilus case. However, adding them forced Patek to change the model’s typical two-part case for a more traditional three-part case. Although the entire case construction has changed, the diameter is still 40.5 mm and the case is still water-resistant to 120 meters. Also the overall case thickness is not much greater (the official data is not provided) than the 5980’s thickness of 12.6 mm. When we saw the first images, we “feared” the watch would be too thick and too busy on the dial. After trying it on the wrist, we’re convinced that our fears were groundless.
The movement of the Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph, Caliber 28-520 C FUS, starts with the same base caliber as its predecessor; however, it has an additional module for the two time zones (called “FUS”) — again, the same module used in the Aquanaut Travel Time. The retail price in Swiss Francs was CHF 47,000 (about $57,300), just a few thousand more than the steel Ref. 5980/1A, when the watch was released in 2014. That’s still a lot of money, but we’re glad that Patek didn’t set the price even higher. Despite the fact that the Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph is a great addition to the Nautilus collection, I will miss the 5980/1A, because of its sportier look. I still consider the 5980/1A to be the Magnum Opus of luxury sports watches. Check here for our extensive review of the Nautilus 5980/1A.
Our conclusion? In terms of size and comfort, the 5990/1A is more or less equivalent to the 5980/1A. However, in terms of functionality, the 5990/1A is superior to the older 5980/1A and we believe that this is exactly the type of watch that many of Patek’s customers — with their daily business-travel life — are looking for.
This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.