We’re going to roll back the clocks to Baselworld 2011. Around this time, we saw the introduction of the white dial Patek Philippe Nautilus, which was an instant hit, and although no longer in production, is one of the most revered Nautilus models ever. 

To many this was the highlight of Patek Philippe from the early parts of the decade, however, 2011 brought about the introduction of the most interesting sports watches that Patek Philippe has produced, the reference 5164A Travel Time.

The Aquanaut: A Brief History

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5164A

Image Credit: Patek Philippe

When Patek Philippe Aquanaut was launched in 1997 it had a huge impact on the industry and the brand itself. It was the cooler, more fun understudy to the Nautilus. 

Inspired by, but not a homage to the Nautilus, this Aquanaut was treading its own, more contemporary, path. Despite being somewhat overshadowed by the Nautilus, the Aquanaut is a highly respected watch in its own right. 

Before, the 5164A, the Aquanaut was, perhaps rightfully, the understudy to the Nautilus, it was uncomplicated and didn’t have the history of the Nautilus. But this reference brought the Aquanaut up to a whole new level. 

With the introduction of a new movement and a new complication, Patek Philippe had opened up businesspersons and jet setters to the Aquanaut. 

The watch was no longer an understudy to the Nautilus, mainly because, at the time, it would have set you back nearly £5,000 more.

Why is the 5164A one of Patek Philippe’s coolest releases?

From a more visual standpoint, this watch is a perfect blend of uncomplicated aesthetics and a complicated design. 

Patek has managed to blend the two perfectly. You tend to see complicated watches looking, well, just that. But Patek has been very subtle with the dial layout and colour pallet. 

The dial, hands and case are very harmonious, and when you add the black strap, the whole aesthetic is refined and unfussy. You may be put off by the rubber strap, especially for a shade over £30k, but this watch wears very well and is particularly comfortable. 

Some may say that it’s not a dressy watch, but then again stainless-steel sports watches don’t tend to be inherently dressy. The type of person that can afford this can most definitely afford a dress watch alternative, so I’d say that aspect is hardly important. 

Why is the 5164A worth so much more than an Aquanaut or Nautilus? 

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5164A on table

Image Credit: The Watch Club

So, the form and aesthetics of the watch are very good, but let’s try to justify the increase in price from the regular Aquanaut or even a Nautilus. 

Well, the justification is simple, the complication and movement. The calibre 324 S C FUS is what powers the Travel Time. It has a 45-hour power reserve, which by modern standards is okay. But where the complication really comes alive is when travelling, of course… that’s why it is called the ‘Travel Time’. This gets pretty complicated, so strap in.

You will see two hour-hands which will help to separate two different time zones. Each of these hour hands has its own AM and PM indicator, shown in two small apertures on the dial, which go from white to blue as the local or home time display moves from day to night-time. 

Upon arrival in the new time zone, you can use the two pushers on the left hand to adjust the local time. It may sound complicated, but in essence, it is a clever and useful complication, especially for those who regularly travel. 

Is the 5164A worth the price tag?

That’s a tough question. But I’d have to err on the side of yes. You are clearly paying more than a Nautilus 5711, but you are getting a sleeker and more utilitarian watch. 

This watch provides the wearer with a great level of functionality when travelling, whilst looking very sporty and elegant. 

The design language in this watch is very elegant. Patek Philippe has not only engineered a fantastic watch, but they also managed to ensure that the aesthetics are as good, if not better. 

You may think that the price tag is too much, but Patek Philippe wants to maintain a level of desirability to their watches, making them seem more like a prize when purchased. 

Indeed, this watch will forever be on the grail list for many. This is undoubtedly one of the best watches of the decade, hands down.