Daily Wear vs. Investment: Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time

Daily Wear vs. Investment: Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time

Not all watches play the same roles in people’s collections, and while some timepieces are purchased with the intent of being worn daily and enjoyed as functional items, others are purchased by owners who intend to keep them in pristine condition and preserved as future investments. Even if you only buy watches that you genuinely love and don’t have the intent of one day selling them for a profit, the fact remains that wearing a watch on a regular basis increases the risk of loss or damage, and there may be some timepieces in your collection that are either so rare or valuable that they ultimately have to be regarded as investments, or at least enjoyed in a manner where preserving their value becomes one of your objectives.

When it comes to the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time lineup, all of the models from this series benefit from a highly practical dual-time complication, and all of them also trade hands on the open market for values that are significantly above their original brand-new retail prices. Realistically speaking, any Aquanaut Travel Time is versatile enough to be both worn daily and serve as an investment, although some references will excel at one purpose within your collection more than the other. To help illustrate this concept, we will be taking a look at two similar yet very different Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time watches: the classic stainless steel ref. 5164A and a rose gold ref. 5164R that is fitted with a Tiffany & Co. dial.

About the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time Brown Dial Rose Gold 5164R-001

The original Patek Philippe Aquanaut first launched in 1997 as a sports watch intended for a younger and more active audience. Based upon a simplified version of the case shape that can be found on the Nautilus, the Aquanaut was the first Patek Philippe model to be fitted with a rubber strap, and it remains the most casual and sporty collection in the brand’s modern lineup. With that in mind, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time is a more recent addition to the brand’s catalog, as the model didn’t make its debut appearance until 2011.  

Based upon a case that measures 40.8mm in diameter by 10.2mm thick, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time features a flat sapphire crystal, display-style caseback, signed screw-down crown, and 120 meters of water resistance. However, the Aquanaut Travel Time is powered by the brand’s Cal. 26‑330 S C FUS automatic movement, which features a highly convenient dual time complication that allows users to jump one of its two hour hands forwards or backwards in one-hour increments by simply pressing the two buttons located on the 9 o’clock side of the case.

Unlike a traditional GMT watch that expresses one of its two time zones in a 24-hour format, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time instead uses two different 12-hour hands paired with corresponding day/night indicators, along with a date display conveyed by the sub-dial at 6 o’clock. This allows the two hour hands to be stacked on top of each other when the second time zone isn’t needed, and the fact that the secondary hour hand can be adjusted via the buttons on the side of the case creates a level of intuitive convenience that surpasses the standard configuration of most GMT watches, where all adjustments must be made through the winding crown. 

Furthermore, corrections to the date are made with a small push piece that sits flush against the side of the case at 4 o’clock, and this means that you only need to unscrew the crown on the occasions when you want to reset the primary time. When it comes to actually functioning as a travel watch, it’s hard to beat the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, although some versions of this model are incredibly collectible, and not all of them are necessarily the watch you want to have on your wrist when you are rushing through a crowded airport.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A-001

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time Black 5164A

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164A-001 is the classic stainless steel version of the model that was originally launched in 2011, and it represents the most affordable option within the greater Aquanaut Travel Time lineup. Crafted entirely from stainless steel and fitted with a black dial and a matching black rubber strap, the ref. 5164A-001 is arguably the most understated version of the Aquanaut Travel Time, and it offers an overall appearance that most closely adheres to the original time-and-date model.

Why the Aquanaut 5164A-001 Is Perfect for Daily Wear and Use

As the standard stainless steel version of the model that has been around the longest, the reference 5164A-001 is the most common version of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, and while seeing one on someone’s wrist is still a fairly rare occurrence, you ultimately could still source yourself a replacement if yours was somehow lost or stolen. Additionally, stainless steel is both more durable and lighter than gold, which makes the Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A-001 more practical to wear on a daily basis compared to its solid gold sibling. 

Furthermore, the stainless steel reference 5164A-001 is also the most affordable version of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, and although all Aquanaut models trade hands on the open marker for values that are significantly greater than their original retail prices, the ref. 5164A-001 is still the least expensive option by a significant margin. As of 2023, the official USD retail price of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164A-001 is $42,580 USD, although open market values for this particular model can often be in excess of twice the price that is listed on the brand’s website.

At nearly six figures, the reference 5164A-001 isn’t exactly an inexpensive watch, although it is a fraction of the price of what some of the most expensive Aquanaut Travel Time cost, which makes the standard stainless steel ref. 5164A-001 the most practical option to wear on a daily basis. In short, the standard ref. 5164A-001 gives you all the practicality of the Aquanaut Travel Time’s signature complication, without being accompanied by any additional luxurious elements or extra-rare traits that could potentially prevent the watch from being worn and enjoyed on a daily basis in a care-free manner.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5164R-001 Tiffany & Co. Edition 

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time Tiffany & Co. Edition 5164R-001

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164R-001 Tiffany & Co. Edition represents the absolute most premium rendition of this model, and it is the solid 18k rose gold version that features a chocolate brown dial and a matching brown rubber strap. Unlike its stainless steel sibling, the ref. 5164R-001 is a more recent addition to the Aquanaut Travel Time lineup, as it was first unveiled in 2016. However, unlike the standard reference 5164R-001 watches, which are already the premium versions of the Aquanaut Travel Time, the examples sold by Tiffany & Co. come fitted with Tiffany-signed dials, and they are exponentially more collectible and valuable compared to those that lack this highly desirable feature. 

Why the Aquanaut 5164R-001 Tiffany & Co. Edition Makes a Good Investment Piece

There are fewer examples in circulation of the rose gold Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164R-001 compared to its stainless steel sibling, although the number of examples fitted with Tiffany dials is a mere fraction of that original number, which is why nearly all Patek Philippe watches with Tiffany & Co. dials are highly prized items among collectors. While you would likely have a fairly straightforward time sourcing yourself a standard rose gold Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164R-001, finding another with a Tiffany-signed dial might not be such an easy task, and even if monetary value is not a concern, having such a rare watch lost or stolen would be a serious setback for any collector.

Additionally, compared to the standard stainless steel Aquanaut Travel Time model, a Tiffany & Co. edition version of the rose gold ref. 5164R-001 is a significantly more expensive timepiece. While the standard Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164R-001 has an official retail price of $62,690 USD (as of 2023), open-market values typically hover just over the six-figure price point, although if you want one with a Tiffany-signed dial, you can expect to pay somewhere within the realm of several hundred thousand dollars, unless you somehow happen to have a remarkable relationship with Tiffany & Co. and can somehow secure an example at retail.

The simple presence of the Tiffany & Co. stamp on the dial can triple or even quadruple the open-market price of the already rather expensive rose gold ref. 5164R-001, and this makes the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164R-001 Tiffany & Co. Edition the absolute rarest and most expensive way to get your hands on this highly practical travel-oriented complication. While you certainly could wear such a watch as your everyday timepiece, a Tiffany dial version of the ref. 5164R-001 really lends itself best to being an investment piece, simply because regular wear and damage can potentially detract tens of thousands of dollars from its resale value.

Choosing the Right Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time Tiffany & Co. Edition 5164R-001

Choosing the right Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time really just comes down to how you want the watch to fit into your collection, and the version that is perfect for one person might not be best for a different collector. There is no “wrong way” to collect watches, and while some people buy them to wear daily, others buy them for their beauty and investment potential. For those individuals, preserving the condition and value is a major part of the process, and some watches are simply rarer and more collectible than others.  

While the rose gold Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164R-001 Tiffany & Co. Edition is exponentially more expensive and more exclusive than the standard stainless steel ref. 5164A-001, it isn’t necessarily a better watch for the person who simply wants to own an Aquanaut Travel Time for its premium quality and the extreme convenience of its signature complication. Similarly, while you can get a standard Aquanaut Travel Time from any Patek Philippe retailer, you can only get the Tiffany Edition from a Tiffany & Co. boutique that sells Patek watches, and this makes it an exponentially more difficult timepiece to obtain, along with being a version of the model that exists in significantly fewer numbers. 

Everyone collects watches differently, and not all of them play the same roles in people’s lives. You would obviously treat a Patek Philippe differently than a G-Shock, and, even when you have your heart set on a single model such as the Aquanaut Travel Time, getting the right version can significantly impact your ability to enjoy your new timepiece to the fullest. Watches are built to be worn and used, but having too rare or expensive of an item on your wrist everyday can ultimately become a mental burden or even a security risk (depending on the city). Similarly, if you plan on one day selling your watch and buying a new vacation home with the proceeds, you might want to buy something that truly is special, even within the context of the already exclusive world of Patek Philippe, and this is ultimately a very different watch than the one you want to have on your wrist each day.  

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