Luxury Sports: The Patek Philippe Nautilus and Aquanaut Luce Haute Joaillerie

The true luxury sports watch.

After the commotion surrounding the olive green and Tiffany blue Nautilus ref. 5711, Patek Philippe has exercised caution in its approach to launching sports watches over the past two years. Notably, during Watches & Wonders 2022, despite widespread speculation and high expectations, the brand opted not to introduce any new Nautilus models. This strategy reflects the brand’s focus on emphasizing its core strengths – classical watches characterized by simplicity or complications executed to a high standard.


However, the current month signals a departure from this measured strategy, with the brand unveiling an unexpected array of high-jewelry Nautilus and Aquanaut models. While gem-set watches are not uncommon in the world of watchmaking, these new timepieces stand out for their extravagant and exceptional execution. The new Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow”, in particular, marks the brand’s first foray into combining a minute repeater complication with a sports watch.

Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” Minute Repeater Haute Joaillerie

A complication perhaps most strongly associated with Patek Philippe, the minute repeater is traditionally reserved for the brand’s most classical watches in terms of size, design, and finishing. Of course, it comes with a substantial price tag and exclusivity, available only to the brand’s best and most loyal customers.


In that sense, the new Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” Minute Repeater is unexpected, from two perspectives. First, it’s Patek Philippe’s inaugural sports watch housing a minute repeater. The Aquanaut Luce now stands as the most complicated Patek Philippe sports watch ever, eclipsing even the Nautilus Perpetual Calendar ref. 5740 in complexity. And interestingly, it’s marketed as a ladies’ sports watch. The combination of the traditionally reserved complication with the brand’s fervent sports watch is unexpected, potentially even shocking to traditional fans of the brand.


Second, the Aquanaut Repeater makes a grand entrance with a “rainbow” gem setting adorning the dial, case, and bracelet. For the bracelet version, even the hands are set with colorful sapphires, as is the case flank. In essence, the entire watch is practically crafted from rose gold structures framing gemstones. This lavish and showy appearance is uncharacteristic of the brand’s minute repeater, which has always maintained a subtle elegance, even in models adorned with gemstones.

Undeniably pretty

Despite the surprising nature of the Aquanaut Repeater, it remains an exciting and logical addition to the Patek Philippe lineup for two primary reasons. First, it expands the brand’s repertoire of sports watches, aligning with their long-term vision for this category. The brand has consistently introduced complications like travel time, chronograph, and perpetual calendar to its sports watches. Simultaneously, they’ve elevated the entire sports watch line to a higher luxury tier by producing more precious metal models, as seen in the launch of the ref. 5811G. Following this trend, it was only a matter of time before Patek introduced a more exclusive version of the Nautilus or Aquanaut, and the new Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” perfectly fulfills this expectation, despite its unconventional nature.


Furthermore, from a commercial standpoint, a fully gem-set Patek sports watch is a rare and expensive commodity, as is a Patek repeater. Consequently, a Patek sports watch that is both fully gem-set and features a repeater is an exceptionally rare and costly piece. Its limited production volume ensures that it won’t negatively impact the brand’s identity or strain its production capacity. Additionally, its exclusive target audience is not concerned with the watch’s limited appeal. With a reported retail price of approximately CHF 2.5 million for the bracelet version, the brand only needs to sell a handful of units to generate significant profit. Given the desirability of Patek Philippe sports watches, fully jeweled Patek sports watches, and complicated, fully jeweled Patek sports watches, the Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” is certain to find success within its niche market.


The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” has divided collectors and enthusiasts, with some questioning the incorporation of the chiming complication on a sports watch. However, history has shown that time can transform controversial designs into coveted icons, as seen with the Royal Oak and Daytona. The gem-set Daytona, particularly the ref. 6269 and 6270, exemplifies this phenomenon. It is not unreasonable to envision the Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” following a similar trajectory. As Patek Philippe’s first sports watch with a minute repeater, it marks a milestone in the brand’s history. That said, its lavish gem-setting, while certainly showing a high level of craftsmanship, is arguably not as groundbreaking as the conceptual leap of the vintage references.

Nautilus Haute Joaillerie “Snow-Set”

While the Aquanaut Repeater has certainly seized the spotlight, Patek Philippe has quietly introduced a couple more high-jewelry sports watches. Another example is the white gold Nautilus “Snow-Set,” which is fully gem-set – including the bracelet – with diamonds and combined with either blue sapphires, red rubies, or emeralds.

Several Nautilus models have been fully “iced out,” but the new one stands out for two distinct reasons. To begin with, the use of two-tone gemstones distinguishes it from the typical fully iced-out watches that can appear monotonous, being either all-diamond or all-sapphires. In this sense, there is beauty and originality in the new Nautilus. Notably, the debut of red, blue, and green together enhances its appeal, making it more enticing to own a trio of gem-set Nautilus watches than just one.


Beyond the colors, the new Nautilus employs a clever gem-setting technique known as “snow-set,” involving the arrangement of different sizes of gemstones to create a more organic and natural look than the usual uniform arrangement of the same size.

Ladies’ Nautilus ref. 7010R

Finally, Patek Philippe introduces a more accessible iteration of its jeweled sports watches with the unveiling of the Ladies’ Nautilus ref. 7010R. This new timepiece boasts a rose gold case subtly – relatively speaking – adorned with diamonds exclusively on its bezel. Featuring a quartz movement, the ref. 7010R emerges as the most economically approachable option among the recent releases.


Despite the simplicity of the gem setting, the thoughtful use of color introduces a touch of sophistication. The purple dial, paired with the rose gold case, creates a rich color palette that distinguishes it from other Ladies’ Nautilus models, which typically feature more conventional dial colors like silver or golden brown. For those desiring an attention-grabbing timepiece without the extravagance of the aforementioned models, the new Ladies’ Nautilus is an ideal choice.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” Minute Repeater Haute Joaillerie ref. 5260/355R-001 and ref. 5260/1455R-001 specs

Movement: R 27; automatic; 48 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, and minute repeater
Case: 38.8 mm x 10.1 mm; 18k rose gold; not water resistant but protected against humidity and dust
Strap: Rubber strap or gem-set rose gold bracelet
Availability: Exclusively at Patek Philippe Salons in Geneva, Paris, and London during the introductory phase
Limited edition: No
Price: Unavailable

Patek Philippe Nautilus Haute Joaillerie ref. 7118/1451G-001, ref. 7118/1452G-001 and ref. 7118/1453G-001 specs

Movement: Cal. 26‑330 S; automatic; 45 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Case: 35.2 mm x 8.65 mm; 18k white gold; water resistant to 30 m
Strap: Gem-set white gold bracelet
Availability: At Patek Philippe boutiques and retailers
Limited edition: No
Price: Unavailable

Patek Philippe Ladies’ Nautilus ref. 7010R-013 and 7010/1R-013 specs and price

Movement: E 23‑250 S C; quartz
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Case: 32 mm x 6.9 mm; 18k white gold; water resistant to 60 m
Strap: Rubber strap or rose gold bracelet
Availability: At Patek Philippe boutiques and retailers
Limited edition: No
Price: USD 39,620 (strap); USD 56,180 (bracelet)


Image by Kai
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