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Throwback Sundays: Six Recommendations for a World Time Watch, from Our Archives

In this week's Throwback Sundays article, we take a look at six World Time watches.
by Robin Lim on September 4, 2016

Travelling is becoming an essential part of our lives, be it either for pleasure or business. This is especially so with globalisation and advancement in transportation technologies, which makes travelling much cheaper and convenient these days. Either way, it paves the path for a new genre of timepieces for the horological enthusiasts: a World Time watch.

A World Time watch, in the simplest terms, is a timepiece that is capable of displaying at least 24 different time zones simultaneously. What makes a good World Time watch is its functionality – it should be able to operate intuitively, without much fiddling or complicated procedure. It should preferably have a quick set function as well, in which it allows the user to adjust the hour hand independently upon landing.

So, how many watches in our archives actually meets our stringent criteria? Let’s find out!


Seiko Astron GPS Solar Worldtime


The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Worldtime SSE091 with the mother of pearl dial.

The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Worldtime SSE091 with the mother of pearl dial.


We kick off this article with Seiko’s Astron GPS Solar Worldtime, a novelty from this year’s Baselworld.

The Astron GPS Solar Worldtime is based on the Astron GPS Solar launched in 2012 which was first solar watch in the world that receives GPS satellite signals and adjusts to the precise local time anywhere on Earth. For 2016, it is updated with a Worldtime feature and the latest movement is the slimmer Calibre 8X22. It still features the same GPS technology function, in which it synchronizes the time with just one touch of a button or automatically once a day within GPS signal reach. In addition, it also recognizes all 40 time zones automatically, and it is said that the watch achieves an accuracy of 1 second every 100,000 years. More information on the technical bits of the watch can be found in our review article here.

Despite its size, the 44.8mm by 12.4mm watch feels deceptively light on the wrist. There are a total of 7 new variants, with the SSE091 as the flagship model with a stunning Mother-of-Pearl dial. The watch is priced at ¥180,000 before taxes in Japan (converting to SGD$2,300 incl GST), and we reckon this is the perfect timepiece for a traveller who wants something that is functional and not attention-seeking.


Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum


The Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum, together with the pocket watch variant.

The Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum, together with the pocket watch variant.


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In this year’s SIHH, Montblanc had launched an updated version of its popular Worldtimer: the 4810 Orbis Terrarum. The watch is the successor of the widely-popular Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum, a watch we considered as one of the timepieces that offers an excellent value proposition.

The new watch has undergone several updates, which includes a newly-designed dial and a larger case (from 41mm to 43mm). The former is rather interesting, as it uses more colours to distinguish between night and day. As mentioned in our review article, the dial is now fitted with the second sapphire crystal disc indicates the passing of day and night with a dark blue for the night and the use of a gradient of yellow and green for the day. The watch also includes the 24-hour ring that help indicate the different times in the 24 cities displayed.

In terms of pricing, the 4810 Orbis Terrarum retails at around S$9,200. This is relatively more affordable than many other Worldtimers, as the watch has a base Sellita movement fitted with an in-house Worldtime module. Still great value for the money.


Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time


JLC Geophysic Universal Time in Stainless Steel.

JLC Geophysic Universal Time in Stainless Steel.


The Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic traces its roots back to 1958, when it was created to commemorate JLC’s 125th Anniversary and the world’s first “International Geophysical Year. The watch was used for scientific operations in the Arctic, in which it had to be robust enough to resist tough environment and magnetic fields. It was also very rare as well, as it was in production for only one year.

In 2014, JLC had relaunched the Geophysic, as a limited edition, and in 2015, JLC announced two novelties from the Geophysic line: the True Seconds, as well as the Universal Time. The Universal Time, interestingly, stands out a little more as compared to some of the World Timers out there. One of the most notable feature is that it only requires one crown to set the timing (as well as the independent hour hand upon arrival in another time zone), while most other Worldtimers, based on the Louis Cottier blueprint needed two crowns. In addition, the Universal Time is also fitted with the seconds morte mechanism, in which the central seconds hand will jump once every second akin to a quartz watch.

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Overall, we think that JLC Geophysic Universal Time is a beautiful timepiece, and one that is unique. It is also rather practical as well. The watch is also available in either steel or pink gold, and they retail at S$21,900 and S$36,900 respectively.


De Bethune DB25 World Traveller


The De Bethune DB25 World Traveller. An interesting concept, from an independent watchmaker.

The De Bethune DB25 World Traveller. An interesting concept, from an independent watchmaker.


Next up, we have something from an independent watchmaker. Cue the De Bethune DB25 World Traveller.

The DB25 offers seasoned collectors, an interesting take on the World Timer. In the typical De Bethune fashion, the watch is rather intriguing. On one hand, it is classy with its refined round case and a elegant dial layout. On the other hand, it is full-on avant-garde. Especially the way it shows the world time and the lugs. A miniature moving ball is used to represent the second timezone and capable of showing day or night by presenting a dark or light hemisphere.

The overall result is striking. A winner in our eyes.


Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time


The new Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time with a magnificent blue dial, shown here on bracelet.

The new Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time with a magnificent blue dial, shown here on bracelet.


When it comes to the genre of luxury sports watches, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas is definitely not a stranger to many of our readers here. The Overseas is one of the most recognized watchess in VC’s impressive repertoire of watches.

The Overseas World Time is part of the new Overseas’ collection that was launched in SIHH 2015, which feature a wide array of complications and options. The 43.5mm timepiece displays 37 different time zones including those that are off-set by half hour or quarter hour in reference to UTC. This is made possible by its movement: the in-house Calibre 2460 WT. The well-finished movement features 255 components, and it has a decent power reserve of approximately 40 hours. Similar to its siblings in the Overseas collection, the World Time is also fitted with a 22k Gold Rotor as its oscillating weight.

The Overseas World Time is priced at S$56,900, which is a bit hefty for a steel timepiece. However, similar to the other pieces in the Overseas collection, the watch will be delivered with three different strap options (leather, rubber, and steel bracelet) which features its new quick strap change mechanism. Definitely a good choice for someone who wants some versatility for their watches.

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Patek Philippe Ref. 5230 World Time


Patek Philippe Ref 5230 World Time. Available in rose gold and white gold.

Patek Philippe Ref 5230 World Time. Available in rose gold and white gold.


The history of Patek Philippe World Time began in the 30s, when they worked with Louis Cottier’s and used his patented method to display the different time zones across the globe. Interestingly, for many years, Patek Philippe had retained the same World Time reference in their catalogue. A timeless classic, indeed.

The latest iteration, Reference 5230, is also known to some as a “less complicated” brother of the Reference 5930. The latter includes a chronograph function, and the former is a time only world time watch. The 5230 is powered by Patek Philippe’s Calibre 240 HU, the tastefully-finished automatic movement features a micro-rotor and a minimum power reserve of around 48 hours.

The dial of the 5230 features with a familiar layout of its predecessors. It is fitted with a 24 cities disc, together with a 24-hour ring with day/night indication. In addition, the centre of the dial is fitted with a medallion that is finished with multiple guilloche patterns. It is very intricate, and it adds a lovely touch to the entire aesthetics of the timepiece.

This particular Patek Philippe retails at around US$47,600 (approximately S$64,750), and we reckon that it is superlative timepiece that is both functional and timeless. You can’t really go wrong with this one, especially have tons of cash to spend on an exceptional timepiece.


Concluding Thoughts


In this week’s Throwback Sunday, we have covered six World Time watches from a variety of watchmakers. In terms of aesthetics, however, many of them are rather similar in one way or another. What truly differentiates these watches are the movement, their level of finishing, as well as its price proposition. Which, in other words, means that there is something for everyone regardless of the budget and preferences.

Of course, there are some pieces that we have left out in this week’s article. Some notable mentions include the Richard Mille RM63-02 World Timer, the Andersen Geneve Tempus Terrae, as well as the IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph. They are all excellent watches in their own ways, but we intentionally wanted to only cover six watches, so have to make a selection. Trust us, it was a close fight indeed, and one cannot go wrong with any of these other watches.

So, what are some of the other watches that you reckon deserves a spot in this list? Let us know in the comments section below, and till the next article, cheers!

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  • Jeremy
    September 5, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I would think the LV Escale world time deserves a spot on this list! The time zone model also comes with a minute repeater variant.

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