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Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 5990/1 – Hands-On Review & Live Photos

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One of the first things I look for when searching for a new ‘everyday’ watch is practicality. Much like the other daily companions in my life, I expect that it will not only look good but will also be highly functional. In other words, I need more than just a pretty face and a nice body. Fortunately, the new Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph Ref 5990/1 not only has both but also has the brains to match.


Officially unveiled earlier this year at Baselworld, the Ref 5990/1 is yet another evolution in the long-line of Gerald Genta designed Nautilus sport watches first introduced by Patek Philippe back in 1976. As you might expect not much has changed aesthetically, after all why mess with a design that has maintained its popularity (and seemingly ageless appeal) over the last four decades? No, what you see is what you get with this watch.

Presented in a stainless steel case, the Ref 5990/1 is instantly recognizable on the wrist thanks to its iconic porthole-shaped case and integrated bracelet. It’s billed as a sports watch and it still very much is in the traditional sense, however unlike many of the other so-called ‘sports watches’ we see hitting the market these days that feature all manner of unusual materials and loud color schemes, the Ref 5990/1 looks just as good with a suit and tie as it does with a polo and shorts.



What really makes this new watch appealing is the combination of complications that it offers. Firstly, the Ref 5990/1 features a column-wheel chronograph, with a 60-minute counter shown on a sub-dial at 6 o’clock and central sweep seconds hand. This in and of itself is nothing ground-breaking for the Nautilus collection of course, after all the Ref 5980 already features a similar (if a little more in-depth) chronograph set-up.

No, what sets the new Ref 5990/1 apart is the decision by Patek Philippe to pair it with the travel time (or dual-time) complication taken from the Aquanaut Ref 5164A. This seemingly innocuous addition gives it a whole new level of functionality, all of a sudden transforming the humble Nautilus from being the watch you wear on the odd occasion to the watch you wear for pretty much every occasion. Want to go for a morning swim in London before flying out for you dinner meeting in Dubai? No problem, the Ref 5990/1 has got you covered.


Not surprisingly, combining of these two complications into one watch forced Patek’s designers to re-think the layout of the dial. The familiar horizontally embossed Nautilus pattern accentuated with ten applied luminous hour markers in 18K white gold of course remains, contrasting with the black dial beautifully. However, unlike previous Nautilus’ dials, which typically only feature one additional sub-dial at six o’clock (some models feature two as a well as power reserve indicator), the new Ref 5990/1 has a 60-minute chronograph counter at 6 o’clock and a local time date indicator at 12 o’clock. Not only is this design symmetrically pleasing to the eye it also provides the added level of functionality required for the travel-time indicator to be truly useful (i.e. the date.)


For the time-zone function, the dial features two hour hands on the same axis, much like the dial of the Ref 5164A. The lower one is skeletonized, whilst the the upper one matches the style of the minute hand. The skeleton hand displays the home time while the solid hour hand indicates local time. At home, where both times are identical, the two hands are cleverly superposed, ensuring there is never any confusion or unnecessary clutter on the dial.

When you need to travel to another time zone you simply adjust the hour hand for local time forwards or backwards in one-hour steps accordingly using the plus and minus correctors (conveniently located on the left-hand side of the case). As a final touch there are separate Day/Night indicators for each time-zone, thus allowing you to easily avoid the embarrassment (and inconvenience) of calling back home in the middle of the night.


Inside is the new caliber CH 28-520 C FUS movement, developed specifically for the Ref 5990/1. It features a traditional column wheel design chronograph with an innovative disk clutch, supplemented with the Travel Time mechanism. According to the brand this ingenious device dates back to a patent granted to Patek Philippe in 1959. It not only facilitates the bidirectional adjustment of local time in one-hour increments, but is also totally isolated from the going train when time-zone settings are changed. This prevents adverse effects on the amplitude of the balance and the rate accuracy of the watch.



What is perhaps most important though is how the Ref 5990/1 wears on the wrist. The rugged design of the Nautilus case gives it a very masculine feel without making it too bulky, whilst the steel construction gives it a nice weight. The style is not overpowering and yet it will still draw more than its fair share of admiring stares. In short, it’s just about the perfect ‘everyday’ watch.

Price is US$57,300.

Photos by James Cole for

Article by Tom Mulraney for

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