Perhaps the most popular complications this year at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), and subsequently at BaselWorld, were watches with world time, dual time and GMT functions. Geneva saw several brands present an array of watches that help the wearer switch quickly between time zones, or keep track of multiple time zones on the same face.
The concept itself is by no means new to watch aficionados. Watches that display multiple time zones are available in all shapes, sizes and price points from rugged Casio GShock timepieces to Patek Philippe’s classic Platinum World Time.
There were several classic executions of these movements. But this year, there was also a number of unique movements and innovative displays. None more so than Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Traditionelle World Time. (The watch is one of our picks for best watch from SIHH this year.)
This year’s World Time has a new 2460WT in-house selfwinding calibre that is distinguished by a remarkable new single-crown adjustment mechanism. The wearer can jump from one time zone to another with just a simple twist of the crown. Usually, such quick-adjust watches come with the ability to jump time zones with intervals of an hour.
This year, Vacheron has gone one better by also incorporating half and quarter time zones. This is perhaps the first time partial time zones have been incorporated into a production watch. Both India and Nepal, therefore, find themselves on the dial of a World Time complication on this rare occasion.
Cartier had several stand-out pieces in their collection this year, including a new Ballon Bleu, and a superb new Calibre De Cartier Multiple Time Zone watch. Driven by a Calibre 9909 movement, the watch combines a sophisticated series of indicators into a simple, easy to read and use device.
The watch has a central home time indicator and the main hours and minutes hands are adjusted using a push button. Below the home time dial, at the six o’clock position, a retrograde indicator shows time difference. The only element missing is the place indicator that most watches build into the dial. Cartier brilliantly frees up dial real estate by moving this to the side of the case in the nine o’clock position through a small window.
When the wearer lands in a foreign country, all he has to do is click the button till the watch jumps the requisite hours.
Audemars Piguet, renowned for the Royal Oak collections, has chosen this year to present a dual time watch in its more classical Jules Audemars range. The 2011 Jules Audemars Dual Time is a classic, no-frills timepiece with clean elegant lines, a superbly laid out dial and sharp legibility. Besides the two hands of the main watch, the dial incorporates a date dial, a second time zone, a day/night display and a power reserve.
That might sounds too much for a modest 41mm case. But Audemars Piguet pulls it off effortlessly.
Other brands with a more traditional approach to world and dual time watches included IWC and Montblanc. IWC has a simple new dual time in the newly rejigged Portofino collection.
Montblanc’s Star World Time is a great combination of good looks and ease of use. Once again, this is operated with a single crown and has a ring of city names around the dial that moved. Additionally, the small GMT marker in the centre has been well designed for legibility. All these elements come together to form a rather attractive timepiece.
Other brands with GMT indicators and Dual Times were A Lange & Sohne and Panerai.
If the showing at Geneva and Basel is anything to go by, this trend of GMT, dual and world time watches will persist. Especially where brands have executed them within classic and minimal case and dial designs.
From a consumer perspective, this is perhaps indicative of a more global clientele and a more widespread market. GMT and World Time products are versatile enough to work in multiple markets, and they offer a certain level of geographic personalization. Also, these are complications that adhere to the current trend of compact, minimal timepieces. Therefore, they are attractive to buyers, who seek complications at a fair price, and manufacturers who don’t want to entirely give up the premiums for complicated pieces.
As long as the watches are as good looking and wearable, as the ones at Geneva this year, the trend is a welcome one.