Error Dial 5650G-001 Patek Philippe Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time

Error dials are something we typically associate with Rolex, things like the infamous double-9 Air King. Surely, the holy-trinity Patek Philippe has never faltered that obviously. We hear frequently about how, while Rolex make in excess of one million watches yearly, Patek Philippe make just 60-75K watches. And yet, in the ultra-high end ‘Advanced Research’ Aquanaut Travel Time from 2017, errors were made. Not seeing it? Look below that massive aperture. Now look above it. That’s right, they just forgot the 53rd minute marker despite including the very top of the 52nd just below it. This is either testament to how radically different and involved the production process was for the Advanced Research, or laziness. And we’ll probably never know. But it is thought to be entirely unique. Do you want an Aquanaut that’s vastly more expensive and slightly harder to read at 10:53? It’s good news.

Standard Production Dial (Left), Error Dial (Right)

The Advanced Research Travel Time ref. 5650G-001 debuted in 2017 and instantly was one of the most daring, desirable, and valuable watches Patek Philippe had ever made. MSRP was 58K US. Within a year they were trading for 150K and then went straight to 500K. This, largely because production was capped at 500 examples. Is it materially different from the normal Travel Time? Well yes, actually. Unlike most Advanced Research, it’s not just a few silicon parts. The opened dial reveals a highly complex arrangement of steel for GMT setting which is repeatedly flexible. The leaf springs have 150 micron clearance. Classic material, incredibly modern manufacturing. It’s a lower part count with no gears or pivots, all because of some extremely clever imagination in steel. And a new terminal curve in the silicon balance. But that’s not why this one matters.

This dial is something many would’ve thought can’t happen. This is the most advanced Aquanaut Patek Philippe has yet made, and they just forgot about a marker. One has to wonder if this dial, surely entirely made again for this aperture, was the first ever client watch made. Because it was corrected in all other examples and doesn’t appear in press images. This is supported by a 2017 production. Either way, it’s definitely not repeatable and a rare misstep many thought was impossible in Patek’s manufacturing. The inevitable question you’ll all be asking now is, ‘oh god, how much more are people going to pay for that missing marker?’ Well, this exact watch sold in 2022 for 640K USD. So, two years ago, about 140K. It’s coming back up for auction this week, and the hammer is really anyone’s guess.

This example is coming up later this week via Sotheby’s in their Sealed Auctions. Its provenance is known, confirmed, and it does come with the works as you’d hope. It’s been estimated in excess of 650K USD, the last result was 640K. So let’s see just how silly our world is. Still, quite a cool thing and a one-off dial of one of the most desirable Aquanauts ever made.