With business and leisure travel on hold, is there still a point to world time watches?
With corporate meetings and video chats with loved ones now spanning different time zones, the truth is that dual time, two-timezone, GMT or world time watches are probably the most useful types of timepieces right now.
Travel restrictions are still in place and while it is for the safety of humankind, it’s not the cheeriest news. Still, that’s no reason to abandon prepping for that future vacation. Travel watches in particular are a great place to start, not just because they look great even outside of your first class cabin, but also because they’re useful in this increasingly connected world.
With virtual meetings and calls having largely taken over those pre-pandemic business trips, keeping track of multiple timezones is imperative. Thankfully, there is plenty of wrist candy this year that will have you covered any time, (even if you’re not going) anywhere.
A. LANGE & SOHNE LANGE 1 TIME ZONE
Looking at this year’s Lange 1 Time Zone, it’s hard to tell that this 15-year-old travel watch has just received a major technical update.
But that was probably the point – to make an already well-designed dual time watch even more user-friendly without changing what works, which is a lot.
The two subdials are dedicated to home time and a second time zone, both with a new blue ring that indicates day or night. Another notable addition is a daylight savings time indicator, marked by the gold city ring arrow turning red on cities with daylight savings.
The new in-house L141.1 manually wound movement now receives its 72-hour power reserve from one spring barrel instead of two, and also boasts a new in-house balance spring.
AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK CONCEPT FLYING TOURBILLON GMT
One of the more futuristically styled traveller’s watches out there has returned with a more muted colour scheme this year.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT is just a touch more subdued with its sand-blasted titanium case and matching grey hands and strap, which should be ideal for those who thought its 2018 predecessor’s black and rose gold combination made it look rather too flashy.
The second time zone can be read through an aperture at 3 o’clock, and the watch still has an impressive power reserve of 237 hours (almost 10 days). It’s limited to just 30 pieces.
BAUME & MERCIER HAMPTON BIG DATE DUAL TIME
Baume & Mercier’s Hampton collection this year is all about combining straightforward functionality in a chic Art Deco design. This means its Hampton Big Date Dual Time is easily the most useful of the lot.
The highly visible date is located under 12 o’clock, and the dual time zone with day/night window is located at the bottom. Simple.
The grained dial, exhibition caseback (through which the Soprod TT651 movement can be seen with traditional finishes) and quick-change leather straps are just little luxurious touches that make this a steal in its price category.
BOVET RECITAL 26 BRAINSTORM CHAPTER TWO
Sequels are less likely to disappoint in watchmaking than in movies.
Both of Bovet’s Recital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One and the recently released Chapter Two are incredibly beautiful, complex timepieces in sloped, fully sapphire cases, but the latter just happens to come with a world time function rather than a big date.
The subdial on the right displays the 24 reference cities, with your preferred local time outlined in gold. Across this is a moon phase that deviates by a day only once every 127 years, and below both subdials is a one-minute flying tourbillon that doubles as a seconds indicator. There will only be 60 pieces made in three dial variations.
GRAND SEIKO SBGJ237, SBGJ239
If a beach or resort holiday is on your to-go list once travel is safe again, then one (or both) of Grand Seiko’s latest Hi-Beat GMT watches should be on your shopping list.
The design is typical of a sporty GMT watch, with the rotating GMT bezel, 24-hour flange, red GMT hand, and regular hands allowing the wearer to read three different time zones.
But the bezel is actually a design feature to take note of, because it is covered in sapphire crystal to protect the LumiBrite (Seiko’s signature lume) that coats the numerals in the darker half, and the background of the lighter half.
Unusually, the bezel and flange colours are split asymmetrically so as not to bisect any numerals. The blue and white SBGJ237 is the sportier of the two thanks to its colours and steel bracelet, while the dark green SBGJ239 comes with a leather strap.
HERMES SLIM D’HERMES GMT
When it comes to watch design, Hermes has always written its own rules.
Thanks to the stencil-like font that characterises the Slim collection, quirkily (or annoyingly) misaligned numerals in the GMT subdial and little round AM/PM indicators, there just aren’t any traveller’s watches quite like this one.
When it was first launched in 2018 it came in palladium with a smoky grey dial. This year some of that cool mystery has been replaced with the warmth of blue shades in a rose gold case.
HODINKEE EIGHT-DAY TRAVEL CLOCK
If it’s just the spirit of travel or the memories of a simpler time you’re after, popular watch blog Hodinkee has collaborated with Swiss clockmaker L’Epee 1839 to create a travel clock.
The idea was inspired by early 20th-century folding alarm clocks that companies like LeCoultre and Cartier used to make, and was brought to life with modern design sensibilities and a stash of 96 vintage Pontifa movements.
Despite the name you’re probably better off relying on your hotel clock or smartphone, but there is something charming about out-of-production movements with eight-day power reserves housed in slick leather casings.
It’s already sold out but you can join the wait list at shop.hodinkee.com.
MONTBLANC STAR LEGACY ORBIS TERRARUM
There was never much to criticise about Montblanc’s world time movement, so the brand was right in keeping its 2020 updates largely cosmetic.
The refreshed Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum now enjoys stepped lugs, luminous hands, a new onion crown and a shift in position of the red city marker from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock.
The dial centre also now uses two rotating discs – one for the continents and meridians, and one for the dual-shaded ocean for day/night indication – for greater detail and depth. It is offered in steel with blue colourways, while the 500-piece limited edition in rose gold comes in brown tones.
PANERAI LUMINOR LUNA ROSSA GMT 44
The Luna Rossa Challenge team will be vying for the America’s Cup next March and Panerai is already showing its support by launching three models this year inspired by the team’s colours.
The black, grey, red and white Luna Rossa GMT 44 is the simplest of the trio in terms of complications, but it also has the highest water resistance at 300m. The smooth, black DLC-coated titanium case acts as a contrast against the textured dial, which is actually covered in the sailcloth of the Luna Rossa boat. Red accents help highlight the watch’s seconds hand at 9 o’clock and GMT hand.
RICHARD MILLE RM 11-05 AUTOMATIC FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH GMT
That this watch has a GMT function is a fact that’s easily lost in its long list of other features: Skeletonised movement with flyback chronograph, annual calendar, countdown counter, and a high-tech bezel to keep it all together.
That bezel is crafted out of Cermet, a material commonly used in ballistic protections, aerospace components, fuselage pieces and brakes in competition vehicles.
It’s the first time it’s being used in a Richard Mille timepiece, but it’s a natural fit for the brand’s ultra-tough wares because Cermet is lighter than titanium and almost as hard as diamond. The watch is limited to 140 pieces.
TAG HEUER AQUARACER GMT
There aren’t a lot of dive watches that come equipped with a GMT function, so those who prefer to take their scuba adventures really far from our shores will know that the TAG Heuer Aquaracer GMT is a rare gem.
And that gem finally has a new colour option: A blue face with a bi-colour black and blue bezel. All the features you loved in the original are still present, such as the ridged dial, distinctively shaped bezel, independently adjustable GMT hand and 300m water resistance, but now in a package so refreshing you can almost smell the sea spray.