If you’re a signed-up adherent to the ‘quiet luxury’ movement, look away now. Despite being in the ostensible format of sports watches, a raft of newly-announced women’s models from Patek Philippe make the case for bejewelled and unashamed ultra-opulence as loudly and as vibrantly possible; and in one case they throw the crystal clear chimes of a minute repeater into the mix as well. This is horological luxury with the dial turned all the way up…
Time was when the Aquanaut, the cushion-shaped sports model introduced by Patek in 1997, was seen very much as its junior model: a casual timepiece on a rubber strap, designed to appeal to younger buyers as an entry point to the watchmaking of Geneva’s finest.
But the ascendancy of sports watches in recent years has raised its profile and made even basic Aquanaut models among the hardest Patek Philippe watches to acquire; moreover, its slinky, streamlined design has proven an increasingly versatile blueprint for women’s (and unisex) models that in precious metals and jewellery settings, under the ‘Aquanaut Luce’ moniker.
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Rainbow Minute Repeater: a technicolour timepiece
Nevertheless, the Aquanaut Luce Rainbow Minute Repeater, Reference 5260, is something else. Not least, it’s the first time Patek has created a minute repeater version of the Aquanaut: a slider on the left-hand flank of the watch sets off the system of chimes and dings to give an aural reading of the time. (Lest there be any doubt as to the importance Patek Philippe places upon the complication, last week it announced a limited edition minute repeater bearing the face of Philippe Stern, the brand’s former President and father of current incumbent Thierry, who took it upon himself to listen to every chiming model personally before it went to its owner – something his son has continued).
Decorating the octagonal case, meanwhile, is a gem-setting fireworks display, with 52 rainbow-coloured baguette-cut sapphires (3.19 ct), 112 baguette-cut diamonds (7.31 ct) and 160 brilliant-cut diamonds. Rainbow gem-setting has become a notable trend in high-jewellery watches in the past few years; Patek’s may be a late entry, but is arguably the definitive example too.
Patek Philippe’s next-gen Nautilus
The brand hasn’t stopped there with what it describes as an ‘alliance of modern casual chic and Haute Joaillerie‘. Also announced are three spectacular versions of its all-time classic sports-luxe watch, the Nautilus, emblazoned with all-over snow-set diamonds, and decorative elements – bezel, dial markers and bracelet centre links – in either blue sapphires, rubies or emeralds.
A small version of the Nautilus, meanwhile, pairs a rose gold case with a bright mauve dial and diamond-set bezel. It’s available either on a gold bracelet, or with a textile strap in the same colour as the dial.