While Patek Philippe is at the pinnacle of prestige, this illustrious yet conservative brand can appear to the casual onlooker to occasionally be resting on its laurels. However, that isn’t really the case, as often complex creations like the Patek Philippe Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time 5650G-001 are being worked on behind the scenes. There is nothing traditional about the 5th installment of the Advanced Research series, from its modern design to its state-of-the-art technology housed inside the watch’s unique movement. Whether one loves it or hates it, this timepiece will forever leave its mark on Patek Philippe’s history books.
The origins of the Patek Philippe Advanced Research timepieces date back to the early 2000s. The brand started an initiative alongside other Swiss brands to explore the feasibility of silicon in watchmaking. In 2005, Patek launched the 5250 Annual Calendar, the first Advanced Research piece, which featured a silicon escape wheel. Next, in 2006, the 5350 Annual Calendar debuted, showcasing the Spiromax silicon balance spring. Then in 2008, the series introduced the 5450 Annual Calendar with a new escapement and leaver system dubbed the Pulsomax. The last Advanced Research model before the 5650G was the 5550 Perpetual Calendar released in 2011. This model housed an entire Oscillomax ensemble, including a silicon escape wheel, balance spring, lever, and now balance. Please feel free to refer to this article for more in-depth info on some of those previous models. That brings us back to the 5650G, which was first introduced in 2017, and limited to just 500 pieces. This was the first of the Advanced Research pieces to not be in a traditional round watch, and the first to include innovations outside the inclusion of silicon components. What’s more, it was the first and only time a Patek Philippe watch featured any sort of opening or aperture in its dial.
The first thing one most likely notices when looking at the 5650G is the semi-open dial, a stark design deviation for a brand that does not typically even display most of its tourbillons. Boldly exhibiting this part of the movement should indicate how special this new feature is for Patek. However, some collectors despise this characteristic of the dial, and it is understandable since it delivers such a jarring effect by drastically intruding in on the otherwise uncluttered dial. The bright white applied Arabic numerals and painted hour and minute track show distinctively against the blue dial, which features the standard embossed Aquanaut dial pattern. There is an easily legible date indicator at six o’clock, and a small local and home am/pm indicators below nine and three, respectively. The 40mm white gold case is finished with a brushed bezel and high polish on the rest of the case. The case feels balanced with the two protruding pushers opposite the crown side of the case. These pushers allow the user to quickly advance or draw back the travel time hand, leaving a skeletonized hour hand for the home time in place. Finally, the piece has a blue composite rubber strap with white gold double fold deployant buckle that altogether gives this piece a rather comfortable presence on the wrist.
Now the real star of this timepiece is the movement. Caliber 324 C FUS features two technical improvements that are the reason for its Advanced Research designation. First is an optimized Spiromax balance spring made of Silinvar — Patek’s proprietary silicon alloy. While the Spiromax balance spring was initially used in the 5240, this version has an improved design. This new spring includes a patented terminal curve and inner boss that gives this piece a -1/+2 to the accuracy. That is tourbillon levels of accuracy. The second improvement is the “crab” system, which is that flexible steel mechanism showcased in the open part of the dial. This system allows for a smooth adjustment to the travel time hand that is done with fewer parts than a typical dual time and without the use of lubrication. While the production of this component is more costly for Patek, the long-term benefits to the watch’s owner include increased durability to the movement and fewer service requirements. The movement has a 45-hour power reserve and a frequency of 28,800vpm. All in all, this is a monster of a movement and the true highlight of this timepiece.
Versus The Competition
Trying to compare this piece can be rather challenging as even Patek themselves does not offer a lot of models that would even compare. The closest one might find something like the Richard Mille RM63-02 Worldtimer. Richard Mille is constantly pushing the boundaries of the use of materials and technology to elevate high horology even higher. Also, the more sporty feel of the RM63-02 fits the lifestyle theme of the 5650G. These pieces even share the same blue color scheme. The presence is quite a bit larger on the wrist, but both will have a similar impact on the wallet.
Something else one might compare would be the Breguet 7067BB GMT. Now they do not compare currently on price as the Breguet trades significantly under its retail price, and it may not share the same sporty feel as the 5650G; however, this Breguet does share some things in common. First and foremost, the silicon escapement and other technology improve the watch’s accuracy. Each is also in white gold, and both track dual time zones. They are even sharing some skeletonization to the dials. The best thing about this Breguet is that it is more readily available and at a fraction of the price.
Funny enough, the 5650G was not all that successful immediately after its launch, probably due to the complexity of the movement and needing more time to digest why it is so special. This piece usually catches the eye of a collector who tends to focus on the deeper complexities only found in high horology. This collector likes to nerd out on the little things that make a watch special and someone who appreciates a brand pushing the boundaries of technological innovations. The Aquanaut case usually draws a slightly more relaxed collector, preferring a more casual and comfortable watch.
The Patek Phillipe Advanced Research Aquanaut 5650G is an incredible piece of technology that pushes the limits of what can be achieved in the watch world. While some love this piece, others still do not fancy this particular model. Regardless, the 5650G is a timepiece that will continuously appreciate and become the grail piece of some enthusiasts’ collections.