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Kit Payumo

The Rainbow Connection

Patek Philippe channels the light spectrum to allow a self-winding chronograph for the ladies to shine through.

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce was launched in 2004 and is a ladies’ version of the popular Aquanaut line. Italian for “light,” the word “Luce” was taken from the literal lightshow originating from the eye-catching diamonds that adorned the bezels of the original three steel models with quartz movements. These three models were available with dials and straps in black, matte white, and khaki green, as well as a rose-gold version with the self-winding calibre 26-330 SC and a dial and strap in matte white.

Aside from these, several haute joaillerie versions of the Aquanaut Luce have been launched as well. These include the Ref. 5062/450R-001, which combined two of the most complex gem setting techniques of snow setting, and invisible setting, as well as the Ref. 5072R-001, which featured a bezel decorated with baguette diamonds and a lacquered and engraved mother-of-pearl dial the showcased an ingenious checkerboard effect.

Aquanaut Luce

Just last year, Patek Philippe upped the ante and endowed the Aquanaut Luce with its first additional complication. The Ref. 5269/200R-001 Aquanaut Luce Travel Time stood out with a rose-gold case and a dial and strap in matte white, and has made waves as a very convenient and elegant ladies’ travel watch with an innovative quartz movement that allowed the setting of the respective local time with the crown.

But Patek Philippe being Patek Philippe, the watchmaker is never content to leave well enough alone. Thus, for 2022, we are very grateful that Patek Philippe is once again taking the Aquanaut Luce story a little bit further by introducing a second additional function to the Aquanaut Luce collection: a chronograph. And while this is by no means a “first” for the manufacture this is the first Patek Philippe ladies’ wristwatch with a self-winding chronograph movement.

Just to review, it was the cushion-shaped ladies’ watch Ref. 7071 Ladies First Chronograph that made its debut in 2009 with the manufacture’s proprietary manually wound chronograph movement CH 29-535 PS with classic architecture. Today, this same manually wound chronograph movement can be found in the very feminine Ref. 7150/250R-001 Calatrava ladies’ chronograph. Thus, the introduction of a self-winding proprietary chronograph movement in a ladies’ wristwatch is still considered a milestone. And did we mention it’s a rattrapante?

Aquanaut Luce

The new Ref. 7968/300R-001 Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” Chronograph is equipped with the self-winding caliber CH 28-520, which features a vertical disc clutch, and a large 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock. Operating with minimal wear and without affecting precision or power reserve, this modern clutch allows the sweep chronograph hand to be used as a constantly running seconds hand. And with the pusher at 4 o’clock, the flyback function makes it possible to start a new measurement at any time even if the sweep chronograph hand is already timing an event or if it is being used as a “regular” seconds hand. And we haven’t even talked about that “Rainbow” part.

Taking its elaborate cues from 2016’s diamond pavé dial sprinkled with colored sapphires of the Ref. 7002/450G-013 Haute Joaillerie Minute Repeater “Symphony of the Four Seasons,” as well as the Ref. 4898/1450G-010 “Diabolique” haute joaillerie model with its art deco style and livery consisting of 2059 gems of various colors, which was launched in 2017 at the Patek Philippe Grand Exhibition in New York, the 39.9mm 18K rose gold case of the Ref. 7968/300R-001 Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” Chronograph features an octagonal bezel adorned with not one but two rows of baguette-cut gems.

Aquanaut Luce

That’s right, for the first Aquanaut Luce with chronograph function, Patek Philippe chose to go “all out” on the bling factor with a true rainbow of colors. Thus, the inner row of baguette-cut gems consists of 40 flawless rare white Top Wesselton diamonds totaling 2.05 ct., while the slightly angled outer row sports 40 sapphires in the colors of the rainbow totaling 2.31 ct. Indeed, each sapphire was hand picked to assure the perfect transition from one color to the next…just like a color wheel. And if that wasn’t enough, this two-row arrangement is set in the elaborate “invisible setting” technique in which the gems are horizontally notched on the lower facet. This allows each gem to be set on “metal rails” that are invisible from the outside.

Complementing this medley of colors is a mother-of-pearl dial engraved in the signature Aquanaut motif; while luminous baton hands in rose gold give legibility to the dial. But it’s the twelve applied hour markers in rose gold that sets it off: they are set with 0.31 ct baguette sapphires, the colors of which are color-coordinated with the gems on the octagonal bezel.

Aquanaut Luce
Aquanaut Luce

The architecture of the 39.9mm case, as well as the chronograph pushers, are enhanced by alternating polished and satin finishes, while the self-winding caliber CH 28-520 movement is, naturally, elaborately finished in full compliance with the directives of the Patek Philippe Seal, the refined finishing of which can be evidenced through the transparent sapphire case back.

But the bling doesn’t stop there because the Ref. 7968/300R-001 Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” Chronograph is fitted with a red strap made of an ultra-resistant composite material with the patented Patek Philippe fold-over clasp adorned with ten baguette diamonds. And to suit every mood this Aquanaut Luce can also be had with a matte beige or a matte white strap also made of the same material.

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