Debuting in 1997, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut was released to engage with a newly minted clientele with money in their pocket thanks to the stock market’s explosion during the dot.com era. Released under the same premise as the Nautilus when it was released in 1976, the Aquanaut was a trendy watch that broke from traditional Patek Philippe aesthetic stylings. Featuring a first for Patek with its composite strap, the Aquanaut needed to be delicately launched. So it was first released as a limited-edition offering of 1000 pieces with the ref. 5060A. Thanks to its success, in 1998, the year following, Patek launched a new variant of the Aquanaut, the ref. 5066 in stainless steel and in 18kt yellow gold, which is the example we have here. Featuring the same 36mm stainless case design and the same automatic cal. 330 SC movement as the ref. 5060, the ref. 5066 is very similar to its predecessor. However, in what was certainly a welcome change considering Patek Philippe’s famed finishing, the ref. 5066 did introduce a new sapphire crystal exhibition caseback to the collection. This allowed the 120m water-resistant Aquanaut 5066 reference to become the most water-resistant timepiece to sport an exhibition caseback, an impressive feat for Patek Philippe considering their pedigree was in complicated classical timepieces, not sports watches. An icon of modern watchmaking, the Aquanaut has transcended horology, and with the ref. 5066 marking the beginning of its production as a serially-produced watch, it is a remarkably important and collectible reference. Furthermore, the ref. 5066J stood as one of the most luxurious Aquanauts in production until its discontinuation in 2007.
Loupe This Scorecard
Vetted & Approved
Box and Papers
Est. value range
$40,000 – $60,000
Watch is in overall excellent condition. Case has been previously polished but shows thick and well proportioned lugs and the proper brushed and high polished surfaces. The watch was delivered to the agent in December of 2013, and is one of the last of the tritium dials. The tone is very lightly aged and consistent with the hands. The strap is worn and cut to fit a medium small sized wrist, so it would be advisable to replace the strap if you need a larger size.
A maverick amongst Patek Philippe's rather conservatively styled timepieces, the Aquanaut youthened the brand's catalog with its composite strap, sleek aesthetic, impressive 120m water resistance, and robust Nautilus-inspired construction. With its 18kt yellow gold construction, the ref. 5066J retained the luxurious qualities of Patek's offerings that collectors had grown to love.