World Traveller’s Watches
Some call it the best time ever, others hate it. Travelling around the world comes in many flavours, be it for work, leisure or perhaps even both. If you are a regular world traveller, you might want to have a world traveller’s watch to accompany you on these trips. They help you to show you – in a glance – the time where you are currently located as well as your home time. Very convenient to keep in touch with your family and friends at home, or with your colleagues, of course.
I selected three different world traveller’s watches from three different manufactures: De Bethune DB25 World Traveller, Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite, and the Patek Philippe 5930G World Time Chronograph. Three very different houses, but all of them offer a world traveller’s timepiece that can definitely be considered haute horlogerie. Admitted, these watches are for the lucky few. The cheapest world traveller’s watch in this article has a list price of 36.500,- Euro, the most expensive one has a 150.000,- Swiss Francs price tag.
Sure, you can buy a traveller’s watch for much less, that will also help and assist you when being abroad in a different time zone. We will soon feature an article with some affordable alternatives here. But first, let’s have a look at these beautiful three watches.
De Bethune DB25 World Traveller
If you are not that deep into watches, De Bethune is perhaps the least known manufacture of the three in this article. De Bethune was founded by David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet in 2002 and ever since, they have been introducing spectacular designs combined with the highest form of fine watchmaking. The DB25 is considered to be the original classic De Bethune timepiece, for any kind of occasion. It comes in several variations, of which the reference DB25WTWs1 is this World Traveller watch.
The DB25 case for the World Traveller has a 45mm diameter and is made of white gold. The typical De Bethune DB25 case has open lugs that are attached to the caseback. On the left side, there is a pusher at 8 o’clock, for use of the world timer function.
How it works
The De Bethune DB25 World Traveller looks very complicated at first sight, but it is actually a very easy-to-use timepiece. The dial contains a number of discs. From outside to the centre, the first disc indicates the date. A small arrow points towards the day. The next disc indicates the local time, with two nice blued hands. Then, if we look at the centre, we see a world time indicator. With a pusher in the case band, you can adjust the world time indicator. Around the world time indicator is a 24-hour scale and a small two-colour sphere that can be moved around. It indicates your home time or simply GMT. The sphere is also the day and night indicator, by using a dark and light colour.
The uncommon colour combinations of the dial and the finish of the discs and hands are simply stunning. The (3D) sphere with its two colours (blue and 5N pink gold) and the champagne and silver coloured discs give a great contrast with the blued hands, markers and rims.
Not only the functionality and aesthetics of the timepiece itself are subject to admiration, also the movement (calibre DB2547) belongs to the absolute top of fine watchmaking. It is a manual wound movement, completely manufactured by De Bethune. As you can see, the movement has a beautiful decoration consisting of ‘Côtes De Bethune’ in the centre, beautiful high polished concave plates as well as a blued titanium balance-wheel and blued balance-wheel bridge. Two barrels ensure a power reserve of five days.
The De Bethune DB25 World Traveller’s watch is limited to 12 pieces only and has a list price of 150.000 Swiss Francs. For that, you buy something truly exclusive. In numbers, in price, but also with regards to its exceptional design and finish.
More information via De Bethune on-line.
Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite
Glashütte Original is a brand that re-structured their collections not too long ago. The Senator Cosmopolite (introduced in 2015) is a manufacture timepiece, like all three watches in this article. We recently visited the Glashütte Original manufacture in the German watchmaking village that equals the name of this brand. A few years ago already, the Swatch Group bought Glashütte Original and added it to their already impressive table of watch brands. It is the only Swatch Group brand that has no HQ in Switzerland though, but remains to be in Glashütte.
The Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite is a watch for the world traveller. Available in white and red gold, with a 44mm diameter case and a leather strap. No less than 37 different time zones can be tracked with this timepiece. Full hour ones, but also those of half hour and quarter hour offsets. Each of these time zones are indicated by the key international airport location codes (defined by IATA).
How it works
The dial is pretty straight-forward, with all of its specific (sub) dials and apertures. The 24 time zones that are aligned at full-hour offsets with GMT are presented by a black IATA airport code in the DST (daylight saving time) or STD (standard time) apertures (which one is applicable), the half hour offsets (10 in total) appear in blue and the quarter of an hour offsets (the remaining 3) in red. That way, it is easy to keep track of the offset from GMT at a glance.
Local time is indicated by the blued central hour and minutes hand. The home time is indicated by the small dial located on the upper half of the dial. Here you’ll also find the power reserve indicator and the day & night indicator for home time. The day & night indicator for the local time (or destination time) is a bit fancier, at 9 o’clock. The local date is the typical ‘big date’ or ‘panorama date’ you’ll also find on some of the other Glashütte Original watches. Setting the watch is relatively easy, sync everything to your home time at first, including the IATA code. Then, after traveling, set the local time and everything will show correctly (IATA code of destination, day & night indicator and date).
The dial of the Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite might come across as cluttered at first, but everything has a function and it is actually quite spacey. The small bezel and large case diameter enabled a lot of dial space for the Glashütter watchmakers.
Inside this world traveller timepiece is Glashütte Original’s calibre 89-02 movement. It is a self-winding movement, with a de-centralized rotor. The movement is being operated with three crowns. Winding of the movement and setting the home time is done with the crown at 2 o’clock. Setting local time is done with the crown at 4 o’clock. With the crown at 8 o’clock you can set the IATA code. A small corrector at 9 o’clock in the caseband is there to correct the date. There are over 400 components in this movement. The finish is like we’re used from Glashütte Original’s high-end timepieces. Beautiful Glashütte striping, gold rotor and a hand-engraved balance bridge. The movement has a power reserve of 72 hours.
The Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite traveller watch retails for 36.500 Euro and is available in red and white gold (38.000 Euro). The watch isn’t a limited or special edition, but probably limited by a low production anyway.
More information via Glashütte Original on-line.
Patek Philippe 5930G World Time Chronograph
The smallest watch of this world traveller trio measures just 39.5mm in diameter. Patek Philippe worthy, you could say. It is not only a world time watch, it also has a chronograph on board, perhaps the most useful combination of complications.
The Patek Philippe 5930G World Time Chronograph has the most classic lay-out of a world time watch in my opinion. An outer disc with all cities on there for the 24 different time zones as well as a 24-hour disc. On top of that, there is a central chronograph second hand and a small 30-minute recorder at 6 o’clock.
How it works
The Patek Philippe 5930G has three pushers and a crown. Two of the pushers, those at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock are for the fly-back chronograph. The pusher at 10 o’clock is there for the travellers amongst us. By pushing it, the city disc and 24-hour ring move counter-clockwise, while the hour hand increases with one-hour steps in a clockwise direction. After you’ve set the correct home time, you can use the pusher at 10 o’clock to make the indicator (at 12 o’clock) point at the city (or better said: time zone) of your destination. The 24-hour disc indicates whether it is AM or PM. As easy as that.
The dial of the Patek Philippe 5930G is truly a piece of art. The blue opaline dial with hand-guilloched finish is a feast for the eyes. The 24-hour disc has a different tone of blue, with enough contrast to make easily identifiable. The high-polished hands and applied hour markers also give enough contrast to make the dial very easy to read. This Patek Philippe is the only watch in this article that actually is based on something from the past. World timers aren’t new to Patek Philippe, already in the 1940s (reference 1415HU) they had these beautiful world timer watches. Today’s Patek Philippe World Time is reference 5230, also introduced this year during BaselWorld, just like the 5930G we have here. So we could also have chosen that reference for this article, but the 5930G is just so incredibly stunning, we just had to go for this one.
Patek Philippe uses their calibre CH 28-520 HU for their World Time Chronograph. Besides the world time functionality, there’s also the fly-back chronograph of course. However, this movement is in fact the other way around. A column-wheel chronograph movement (based on the first in-house chronograph movement Patek Philippe developed and used in 2006) with an add-on module for the time zone complication. The movement has 343 parts in total and is 7.97mm thick. The beautiful 21 carat gold rotor has a perlage finish at the centre. All bridges have a circular grain and beautifully polished chamfers and gold-filled engravings. The CH 28-520 HU movement has a power reserve of approximately 50 – 55 hours.
The Patek Philippe 5930G World Time Chronograph retails for 73,000 Swiss Francs. The World Time reference 5230 retails for 42,300 Swiss Francs, a bit closer to the Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite, if you want.
More information via Patek Philippe on-line.
Three awesome watches, in the high-end watchmaking segment, with very different appeal but with the same target audience. The (frequent) world traveller that needs a companion on his or her wrist to be able to see the time in different time zones. The prices start at 36.500 Euro for the Glashütte Original and end at 150.000 Swiss Francs for the De Bethune and the Patek Philippe is somewhere in between. I believe that at a certain point, it doesn’t matter anymore whether a price tag is 70.000 Swiss Francs or 150.000 Swiss Francs. The Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite is in a price range where it might still matter. Patek Philippe has – as written above – another World Time watch in that same band width.
All three watches are incredibly well finished and there is little to criticize. It is a matter of taste and budget. You can’t go wrong with any of these three watches, they all do their job well and with elegance and style.
That said, there are alternatives in about any other price range for those who are seeking a world timer. We will get back to those shortly.