If you travel a lot–whether for business or pleasure–a worldtimer watch is a must-have.
To give you a brief history, the world time complication was invented in the 1930s by an independent watchmaker named Cottier, who gave out his design to a number of watch companies, most notably Patek Philippe. Typically, a worldtimer watch shows the time in 24 time zones simultaneously. The hour and minute hand are coordinated with an outer dial ring listing 24 reference cities for each time zone. Generally, a pusher set into the case allows you to move the chapter ring one city at a time and the hour hand will automatically jump an hour ahead or behind to show the local time in the reference city. At the same time, a rotating 2-hour inner ring turns once per day and shows the time in the other cities on the dial.
Here are just a few of our favorite worldtimers:
IWC Pilot Worldtimer IW326201
Since it’s inception over 145 years ago, IWC Schaffhausen has been creating watches of the highest quality, both in design and functionality. IWC watches are often the go-to for many pilots who need a high-performing watch with easy legibility and important complications. This IWC Pilot Worldtimer is perfect for the pilot who’s flight plans include crossing into several different time zones. It’s very easy to tell what time it is in all of the major cities across the world, and it’s just as easy to use. You adjust the hour simply by turning the crown and the date adjusts in sync with the hour hand.
Girard-Perregaux WW.TC Traveller
At over 200 years old, Girard-Perregaux has mastered the art of fine watchmaking. The Girard-Perregaux WW.TC Traveller is a perfect example of the brand’s expertise and skill. In addition to displaying the time in all 24 time zones, the WW.TC Traveller has three subdials that display the seconds, minutes, and hours in the local timezone. It also has a day and night indicator, and date window, a chronograph function, and a 46-hour power reserve, all of which would be extremely useful for the frequent flyer.
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time
Revered as one of the top luxury brands in the world, Vacheron Constantin watches are unparalleled. The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionelle World Time watch further establishes the brand’s prestige. It’s an extremely complex model displaying 37 time zones (which includes those that are offset from the Universal Coordinated Time, rather than the typical 24 time zones). Another of the more astonishing features of this watch is the sapphire crystal that is situated in the middle of the dial. The top half of the crystal is shaded to indicate which parts of the world are experiencing night hours and which are experiencing daytime. Beyond its incredibly executed complications, the Patrimony Traditionelle World Time is only available in rose gold and comes at a steep price.
Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX5 World Chronograph
Since 1883, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been notable in the luxury watch industry for its innovative design. The Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX5 World Chronograph is a fine example of the brand’s determination to create beautiful watches, with a black dial that displays the time in all 24 time zones across the world. The watch also displays the hour and minute and has 30-minute and 60-second counters, as well as a date window and a chronograph function.
Of course, when it comes to worldtimer watches, you have your pick. From simple to extravagant, from one side of the market to the other, a world time complication is as interesting as it is useful. And it’s definitely good to have if you’re a world traveler. Still not sure exactly how to use a worldtimer watch? Lucky for you, Seiko has an extremely helpful guide to help you out right here.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 31, 2013. We have updated it for relevance and clarity.