Patek Philippe welcomed quite a few firsts to its various collections in Baselworld 2018, notably the first world-time minute repeater in its regular lineup and the first perpetual calendar in its Nautilus series. Another one that garnered quite a bit of buzz, and which we explore in detail today, is the first chronograph in its sportiest and perhaps most accessible family, the Aquanaut. Here’s what you need to know about the new Aquanaut Chronograph ref. 5968A-001.
To begin with the exterior, the watch’s steel case, with its hallmark gently-rounded octagonal bezel, measures 42.2 mm in diameter and 11.9 mm thick and features an array of alternating satin and polished finishing on its surfaces and flanks. The screw-down crown, which helps ensure a water-resistance of 120 meters, is embedded between the shoulders of a curving crown protector, which in turn is bordered on each side by two elongated chronograph pushers. The sloping lugs integrate seamlessly into the sporty rubber strap.
The gradated light-to-dark gray dial sports the familiar embossed pattern of the Aquanaut range, with applied Arabic numerals and indices in white gold, with a few notable additions in this new model. These include a large, 60-minute chronograph-counter subdial at 6 o’clock subtly shaped to echo the softly curved octagon shape of the bezel, contrasting orange highlights to identify the chronograph indications, i.e., the central seconds hand, the 1/4-second hashmarks in the peripheral railway track scale, and both the hand and indices of the aforementioned 60-minute subdial. The date appears in a small window at 3 o’clock. Super-LumiNova coats the surfaces of the hour numerals and the broad, baton-shaped hour and minute hands.
Delving into the interior, we find the movement, Patek Philippe’s manufacture Caliber CH 28-520 C, with automatic winding and an integrated flyback chronograph function that combines a classic column-wheel control with a modern vertical disk clutch. The latter device is designed to prevent the chrono hands from bouncing and rebounding when the stopwatch is started and, as an added bonus, allows the center-mounted sweep chronograph seconds hand to also be used as a continually running seconds hand due to its nearly friction-free design. Thus, using the flyback capability while the chronograph is off allows the user to synchronize the watch with a time signal in the manner of a stop-seconds or “hacking” function. This capability also explains the absence of a small seconds subdial on the dial for running seconds.
The characteristic Aquanaut embossed pattern continues onto the rubber strap, which Patek says is highly resistant to abrasion and wear and unaffected by saltwater and UV radiation, meaning neither extended wear in the water or in direct sunlight will degrade its look. The black strap that comes with the watch is accompanied by an extra strap in orange, which picks up on the dial’s orange accents for an even sportier look.
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph Ref. 5968A-001 also marks the debut of a new, cleverly designed foldover clasp with four independent catches for enhanced functionality in opening and closing. Patek says that the watch, along with the rest of its new models introduced at Baselworld 2018, will be available in June; the price in Swiss francs is 38,600. What are your thoughts on the first chronograph in the Aquanaut line, and perhaps the venerable Swiss manufacture’s most youth-targeted new model? Let us know in the comments below.