For someone who spends more time in the air than on the ground, the world timer watch is a very nice thing to have. But what is a world timer watch you ask? Read the latest edition of our Back to Basics series to find out! And don’t miss the three stunning world timer watches we’ve also included for your viewing (or buying) pleasure.
What is a World Timer Watch?
A mechanical marvel in every sense of the word, a world timer watch, also known as a unitime watch or a world time watch, indicates the time for the main 24 time zones, simultaneously. This is typically done by displaying 24 world cities, each representing a specific time zone. So, with just one glance at your world time watch, you can see the time in New York, London, Moscow, Toyko, and so on. Now that’s a super practical watch for a global traveler, indeed.
A world timer timepiece showcases the 24 world cities on an internal bezel, along with another 24-hour disc that completes one rotation in one day. To set your world timer watch, simply coordinate your home time with the corresponding hour of the day and city at the 12 o’clock position, and everything will line up accordingly.
For example, take a look at the image of the Breitling Unitime watch above, and you’ll see that the center hands on the watch shows 10:10, while the city at the 12 o’clock position says New York, and the 24-hour ring indicates 10. So if it’s currently 10:10am in New York time, then you can quickly see that it’s 10 minutes past the 16th hour in Paris (4:10pm), 10 minutes past the 22th hour in Bangkok (10:10pm) and 10 minutes past the 3rd hour in Auckland (3:10am) the following day.
This simple and elegant to read, yet highly complex watch mechanism was invented by Swiss watchmaker Louis Cottier in the 1930s and Vacheron Constantin made the world’s first pocket watch world timer during the same decade. Today, it remains a popular watch complication of top timepiece brands looking to flaunt their mechanical mastery. Below you’ll find some of our favorite world timer watches.
Patek Philippe World Time
Say “world timer watch” to any watch enthusiast, and more likely than not, Patek Philippe will come to mind. Like so many of their watches, Patek’s World Time watches are exquisite. Take the Patek Philippe World Time 5130G for example, the Genevan Manufacture manages to keep the dial as balanced as possible and legible, despite all the information it has to house.
The Patek ref. 5130G sports an elegant 39.5mm 18k white gold case, presented on a blue alligator strap. The center of the dial includes an intricate silvered guilloché sunburst pattern, framed by the 24-hour ring. In addition to the 24 hours, the ring is divided into blue and white, to differentiate between day and night hours. The names of the cities are clearly readable, thanks to the white background they sit on, and to change the current reference city, all it takes is a push of the button at 10 o’clock. Powering the watch is the Patek Philippe Caliber 240 HU automatic movement, which can be admired via the transparent caseback.
Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime
In Breiting lingo, the company refers to world timer watches as unitime watches, and this Swiss watch brand has plenty of them to offer. A current version is the Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime and this particular version is ultra luxurious due to its 18k rose gold case. In true Breitling fashion, the Transocean Chronograph ref. RB0510 includes a very large case at 46mm, yet because of its relatively thin profile, sits comfortably on the wrist.
In addition to the time, date, and chronograph funciton, there’s, of course, the world time mechanism too–all driven by the in-house Breitling B05 automatic caliber. It’s worth noting that this clever mechanical movement makes the Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime very user-friendly since the wearer adjusts the time and the reference city via the winding crown. Finishing off the look of the Transocean Chronograph Unitime is a brown leather strap, which complements the warm hue of the gold case.
Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX 5 World Chronograph
The AMVOX collection of watches is, in fact, a collaboration between fine watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre and luxury carmaker Aston Martin. The relationship between these two companies dates back to the 1920s when LeCoultre & Cie and Edmond Jaeger manufactured counters and dashboard instruments for Aston Martin. However, in this century, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin renewed their relationship in 2003 and paved the way for some fantastic high-tech mechanical watch–one of which is the limited-edition Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX 5 World Chronograph we see here.
The AMVOX5 differed from its predecessors as it was inspired by an Aston Martin racing car, the Lola Aston Martin LMP1, rather than a commercial automobile model. Plus, it was also the first time that an AMVOX watch offered the world timer function. Encased within the 44mm black ceramic case (with titanium bezel, pushers, and crown) is a very sporty blue, white, and orange dial that features a grid motif reminiscent of Aston Martin radiator grilles. Along with the registers for the chronograph function, we also see the inner bezel with the world cities and the 24-hour disc running around the periphery, actuated by the pusher at 1o 0’clock. This particular example is numbered 245/250.
All in all, the world timer watch is a supremely practical watch if keeping track of multiple time zones is a must. But aside from their practicality, world timer timepieces are just as appealing for their unmistakable style and undeniable prestige.