The New Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar 5261R

The New Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar 5261R

The New Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar 5261R

While the original Patek Philippe Aquanaut debuted in 1997 as a more casual and younger rendition of the brand’s classic sports watch, the Aquanaut Luce is a more recent addition, having only been introduced in 2004. While the classic Aquanaut was designed for men, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce is designed specifically for women, with more compact case profiles, additional colorways, and a number of gem-set references that blur the lines between wristwatches and jewelry.

While the original Aquanaut Luce models were heavily focused on aesthetics, Patek Philippe is well aware that female buyers value complications as well, and over the last few years, an increasing number of advanced Aquanaut Luce models have joined the lineup, including both a quartz Travel Time model and a mechanical chronograph.

As part of its latest batch of new releases unveiled this year at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023, Patek Philippe is expanding the complicated side of the Aquanaut Luce series, and the new Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar reference 5261R-001 brings the brand’s advanced calendar complication to the smaller side of the Aquanaut collection, while simultaneously resisting the urge to include any diamonds or gemstones whatsoever.

The case of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar reference 5261R-001 is made of 18k rose gold and has the familiar shape and profile that is emblematic of the Aquanaut collection. It measures 39.9mm in diameter (measured from 10 to 4 o’clock) by 10.94mm in thickness, with 21mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug distance of 47.35mm.

Flat sapphire crystals cover both the dial side and the screw-down display caseback of the watch, and a marked winding crown rests at 3 o’clock, nestled between the Aquanaut’s trademark massive integrated crown guards.

A series of little push parts sit flush around the side of the case, as you would expect from a Patek Philippe annual calendar timepiece, and these are used to configure the numerous distinct displays for the movement’s yearly calendar complication.

Water resistance for the new Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar ref. 5261R-001 is significantly less than that of the standard time-and-date models due to the presence of the additional push-pieces, but the watch still offers a depth rating of 30 meters to protect against the unavoidable moisture contact that comes with daily wear and use.

The dial on the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar 5261R-001 is blue-gray in hue and etched with the Aquanaut’s distinctive “grenade” pattern. The interior of the minute track is lined with applied 18k rose gold Arabic numeral hour markers filled with white luminous material, with a rectangular date window (also enclosed in rose gold) at 6 o’clock.

Because the new reference 5261R-001 is an annual calendar, a pair of registers for the day and month are located on the lower half of the dial, while a moonphase indicator is located at the top, cutting off the lower part of the 12 o’clock marker.

The hour and minute hands are handcrafted from 18k rose gold with white luminous inlays, while the seconds hand is created from Pfinodal (an alloy consisting of copper, nickel, and tin) and totally completed in white luminous material.

Meanwhile, the two smaller hands for the day and month registers are likewise made of 18k rose gold, but unlike the centrally mounted seconds hand, they are totally completed in white luminous material for increased contrast against the dial’s blue-gray surface.

The Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar ref. 5261R-001 is powered by the brand’s in-house Caliber 26-330 S QA LU automatic movement, which, like all annual calendars, keeps track of the different number of days in each month and only requires adjustment once per year. (at the end of February).

The 34-jewel self-winding movement has 319 components and a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz), with a power reserve of up to 45 hours when fully wound. The Patek Philippe Cal. 26-330 S QA LU annual calendar movement includes a Gyromax balance wheel with a Silinvar hairspring (Patek Philippe’s proprietary silicon alloy) and a centrally-mounted oscillating weight made of solid 21k gold and signed with the Patek Philippe seal.

Finally, a blue-gray rubber strap completed with an 18k rose gold folding clasp matching the color of the dial and bears the Aquanaut collection’s characteristic pattern etched into its outer surface is affixed to the lugs of the new Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar ref. 5261R-001.

Although the new Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar reference 5261R-001 was intended exclusively for ladies, there is nothing overtly feminine about the design of this model, and I could easily see a number of guys being interested in purchasing this new tiny annual calendar sports watch.

Historically, many watch brands have not offered the same compelling options for women as they do for men’s models, and all too often, when designing a watch specifically for women, brands opt for stereotypically feminine colors, quartz movements, and diamond-set embellishments.

However, there are many women who have the same taste in watches as men, and while they may prefer a slightly smaller case diameter, they do not want their watches to be delicate items adorned with gemstones.

Although Patek Philippe has been expanding its Aquanaut Luce offerings with more advanced complications, this is the first complex model that does not include a gem-set bezel, and it not only offers a refreshing break from what is typically associated with the Aquanaut Luce collection, but it also helps ensure a significantly lower price point.

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