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Is The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar 5261R Really A Women’s Watch?

A female take on the Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 7 min read |

During Watches & Wonders 2023, Patek Philippe unveiled a 39.9mm rose gold Aquanaut Luce Ref. 5261R with its patented annual calendar mechanism. Marking the first Aquanaut fitted with an annual calendar complication, Patek’s press material was adamant in positioning the watch as an Aquanaut Luce, the ladies’ section of the Aquanaut collection. A far cry from some of the brand’s more feminine watches with petite dimensions, pastel colours and diamonds, today I’ll explain why I think this Aquanaut Luce 5261R is a particularly attractive watch for women with a taste for large sporty watches with horological content, but also why it would be a huge mistake to overlook its appeal to men.

Patek’s women

Patek Philippe is generally regarded as Switzerland’s finest purveyor of men’s watches and a precursor in combining complications. But this sentence is not entirely accurate: Patek Philippe is Switzerland’s finest producer of men’s and women’s watches and has been catering to both sexes since it was founded in 1839.

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Patek Philippe Twenty-4 Automatic
The 2018 Patek Philippe Twenty~4 Automatic.

Do not be misled; Patek Philippe and women go back a long way, well over a century before the launch of the dedicated Twenty~4 women’s collection in 1999. Archives held by Patek, Czapek & Cie. reveal that one of the fledgling brand’s first clients was Madame Goscinska, who acquired three timepieces in 1839. Queen Victoria was also smitten by Patek Philippe’s creations and selected a pocket watch fitted with the brand’s innovative keyless winding system in 1851 (invented by partner Jean Adrien Philippe). Another client was the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary, who commissioned the brand’s first wristwatch in 1868. Defying the convention of wearing a timepiece as a pendant, she fastened Antoni Patek’s gold bangle around her wrist to admire the elaborate rectangular hinged case with diamonds housing a miniature baguette movement. Interestingly, although these timepieces were beautifully decorated, they delivered genuine horological content to women.

Moving into the 20th century, in 1916, Patek presented the first complication for women in wristwatch format – No. 174 603 – with a sophisticated five-minute repeater. In 2009, it launched its in-house manual column-wheel chronograph calibreCH 29-535 PS – inside a women’s watch (Ref. 7071, updated into the Ref. 7150 in 2018). Just two years later, a trio of ultra-thin grand complication watches for women materialised with the Ref. 7000 minute repeater, the Ref. 7059 mono-pusher split-seconds chronograph, and the perpetual calendar Ref. 7140.

Patek Philippe 7150R:250R Chronograph ladies - Baselworld 2018
The Patek Philippe Ref. 7150/250R Ladies’ Chronograph mentioned above.

Although I appreciate gem-set and métiers d’art watches, I was thrilled with the release of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 7234 for women in 2018 (see below). Not only does it house a useful GMT complication, but the watch’s bold and unprecedented vintage spirit was also a breath of fresh air for the Amelia Earharts of this world looking for a sporty unisex pilot’s watch with a diameter that doesn’t swamp the wrist.

The Aquanaut Luce released earlier this year elicited precisely the same response. Like the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, it avoids the stereotypical trappings of women’s watches. With its 39.9mm diameter, the Aquanaut Lucre Annual Calendar is the largest model in the line-up and definitely the odd one out. All the other Aquanaut Luce models currently in the collection – save for the Ref. 7968 Rainbow chronograph – come in at 38.8mm and 35.6mm. It’s interesting to note that four of the nine Aquanaut Luce references are still powered by quartz, and eight are gem-set.

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Ref. 7968-300R Luce Rainbow Chronograph

As the only non-diamond-set model, the Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar in rose gold does justice to the sporty design of the Aquanaut. Released in 1997, the Aquanaut leaned heavily on the design codes of Gerald Genta’s Nautilus and was often alluded to as the Nautilus Jr. Targeting a younger generation, the case of the Aquanaut was less complex but featured an eight-sided satin-brushed bezel and came with a trendy tropical rubber strap mirroring the raised guilloché chequerboard pattern on the dial. The Aquanaut Luce for Women joined the collection in 2004 with its mix of quartz and mechanical movements. You can read all about the origins and evolution of the Aquanaut collection in our two-part series here.

1st generation, the Patek Phillipe Aquanaut 5066A. Note the shape of the bezel, equal to the Nautilus

The case is crafted in 18k rose gold, measures 39.9mm from 10 to 4 o’clock, and has a thickness of 10.94mm and a lug-to-lug distance of 47.35mm. To emphasise the shape of the rounded octagonal bezel, it is decorated with a vertical satin-brushed finish and a wide polished bevel, finishings that are replicated throughout the case. Flat sapphire crystals are fitted over the dial and screw-down caseback, and the Aquanaut’s hallmark crown guards flank the crown at 3 o’clock. However, because of the four recessed pushers in the caseband to adjust the calendar, the water-resistance is reduced from the usual 120 metres of the Aquanaut to just 30 metres. It’s not a deal breaker but a little disappointing, given the sporty spirit of this collection.

Annual Calendar

Marking the first annual calendar in the Aquanaut collection, the new Ref. 5261 is a thoroughbred Patek Philippe product. Invented and patented by Patek in 1996, the annual calendar complication is more robust than a perpetual calendar and more complex than a complete calendar, requiring just one correction a year at the end of the erratic month of February. While it is the first annual calendar for the Aquanaut, the complication has been used in the sporty Nautilus Ref. 5726.

Blue dials are a dime a dozen, but Patek’s matte blue-grey dial is beautiful and pairs particularly well with the rose gold. Reminiscent of the sky before a storm, the blue-grey colour is a clever choice; it’s neither masculine nor feminine but an attractive colour that will appeal to both sexes. Using the signature grenade pattern on the dial as the background, the calendar functions are intuitively displayed in two horizontal sub-dials (months at 9 and weekdays at 3 o’clock) and a date aperture at 6 o’clock. However, this display is not like other Patek annual calendars. This is because the annual calendar module inside the movement has been inverted, meaning the moon phases now appear at noon and the date at 6 o’clock. Legibility is impeccable thanks to the generous amounts of Super-LumiNova applied to rose gold hands and numerals and the 5-minute plots on the peripheral track.

Patek’s new automatic movement with a 21k gold central rotor – calibre 26-330 S QA LU – is based on the calibre 26-330 introduced in 2019 in the Calatrava Weekly Calendar (Ref. 5212A) fitted with the annual calendar module with moon phases. Equipped with Patek’s patented Gryromax balance and a Spiromax balance spring, the frequency is 28,800vph, and the power reserve is between 35 and 45 hours. The movement also features stop-seconds functionality to set the time to the nearest second. Decorated to Patek Philippe Seal standards, the refined finishings can be appreciated through the sapphire caseback. The watch comes on a matching greyish-blue Aquanaut composite rubber strap with a patented rose gold foldover clasp with four independent catches.


The Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar cuts it both ways and can proudly fly the unisex flag. However, a word of caution for potential clients who might think of buying it without trying it on, especially women. Although the gentle curve of the case ensures the watch sits flush on the wrist and is lower than its 10.94mm height would suggest, its dimensions are on the large side for women with dainty wrists. Conversely, it is a perfect size for men who prefer more compact watches. To give you an idea, our photographs were taken on Brice’s small 16.5cm wrist. With my even smaller 16cm wrist, the watch has a significant presence, but this, coupled with the weight of the solid gold case, is something I enjoy.

I’m not sure, though, that the vast majority of women will warm to the dimensions of this model unless, like me, they like large, heavy unisex watches with solid horological content. It makes you wonder why Patek decided to include it in the women’s Aquanaut Luce and not the men’s Aquanaut collection. In fact, I predict that the Ref. 5261R-001 will end up on more men’s than women’s wrists. Given the sporty appeal of the Aquanaut, the 30m water resistance is a little disappointing, but for many, the annual calendar complication is worth this limitation.

Availability & Price

The Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar retails for EUR 61,000. For more information, please consult

5 responses

  1. Funny I was just chatting with a friend this past weekend about this and we both agreed that it’s the best looking Aquanaut, we’d both love to have one and we agreed it’s baffling that they’re choosing to market this design solely as a women’s watch.

  2. An Aquanuat with 30 m of water resistance is nonsensical. Anyway, separating models for women and men is silly. What matter are your wrist size and your preference. Your gender has nothing to do with it.

  3. Silly watch with a rubber band. Will these bands still be available in 20 years.
    Just an expensive fashion toy now.


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