Although 2012’s big watch fairs were devoid of the obvious trends of recent years, one complication that we did see time and time again was the second – or more – time zone. With this in mind, we asked QP contributors for their pick of the GMT crop. Ken Kessler and Eleanor Pryor If there was a sense of astonishment at the vast array of new GMTs and world timers that appeared at both SIHH and Baselworld this year, it is only because they are so often taken for granted. They may be useful, truly practical and sophisticated, but they are certainly not uncommon. Today, the likes of Tissot, Longines, Glycine, Hamilton and countless others are producing them, allowing them to retail for under £1,200. Louis Cottier’s world timer first appeared in the late-1930s and, while it remains a high-end ‘complication’, even this stunning invention lacks the sheer pizazz of a minute repeater or tourbillon. But when thought about logically, this is truly bizarre – after all, what could be more glamorous and more worldly than knowing the time in 24 zones simultaneously? Meanwhile, Rolex made famous the three letters ‘G’, ‘M’ and ‘T’ by creating the template for a watch for both the pilot and the inveterate traveller. While most GMTs only show two time zones, or three if fitted with a rotating bezel, that’s more than enough to make them sound alternatives to world timers, rather than the poor relations. There are, of course, numerous variations of both world timers and GMTs, though the basic recipe for each remains fairly constant. World timers usually accomplish their global display by featuring dials with each zone identified by a key city. They may be shown all at once – such as the classic Tissot formula, with the names of the cities radiating out like the spokes of a wire wheel – or the layouts may reveal only a couple of designated cities at a time, like JaegerLeCoultre’s Géographique.
What all now feature are easy-to-use methods for choosing home time and destination, whether with a rotating bezel a la Vogard, or press buttons as found on certain Ulysse-Nardin models. Vogard takes it a stage further by allowing the client to order customised bezels showing specific destinations in each zone, whether the owner chooses to know the time according to golf courses or major airports. Certain vintage models inspired wanderlust by featuring cloisonné maps – those from Patek Philippe now command some of the highest prices reached at auctions. GMTs, though simpler, do the job just as well, with less drama. The ideal method is to have an independent second hours hand, set to the home or destination time. This may stand alone, using its own chapter ring, or – as with Rolex’s GMT-Master II, Explorer II and many of Glycine’s Airman models – in conjunction with a 24-hour bezel. As for the plethora of new models, the only real surprise is that it should have taken so long for the watch industry to release so many all at once, whether coincidentally or through some conspiracy (which suggests the existence of a secret cabal…). Why? Because whatever legislators, security requirements, green taxes and queues at immigration may do to ruin the joy of travel, it still increases every year. And for each watch enthusiast that buys a world timer or GMT simply because it looks great, there are hundreds more who simply don’t want to phone home and find out the hard way that it is 3am. The following pages contain just a sample of 2012's GMTs and world timers. These are some of our favourites but they by no means cover the entire repertoire of what’s on offer this year.
A. Lange & Söhne
Although the Lange 1 Time Zone has been in production since 2005, A. Lange & Söhne has updated the model for 2012 with a new whitegold model. Following the brand’s approach of utilitarian style, the intention behind the watch is to leave no room for error. Powered by the manufacture Calibre L031.1, the outer ring of the dial features 24 city names, each representing one of the world’s time zones, and moves forward in steps of 15 degrees to the East with a touch of the push piece, consequently causing the hour hand of the subsidiary dial to move in one-hour increments. The main dial and secondary dial have day and night indicators and the functions of the two can be easily swapped over.
As all QP readers know, Frédérique Constant’s main aim is to provide ‘affordable luxury', and never has this mantra been more evident than in the Classic Manufacture Worldtimer, revealed at Baselworld this year. While these types of complications can often exchange hands for top dollar, for their first mechanical world timer Frédérique Constant has achieved its trademark high quality feel without compromising on the low price point.
Lange 1 Time Zone
A firm favourite among traditionalists and lovers of the classical, Avril Groom summarises that the piece: “combines understated eccentric beauty with German logic and clarity that makes it easy to understand and use. The bigger home time dial links to the large date, while the local time dial clearly indicates the time on the easily adjustable city ring. Handy little day-night indicators too, and it all whispers in a very chic way.”
Classic Manufacture Worldtimer
“You've got to hand it to Frédérique Constant,” says Robin Swithinbank. “A world timer with an in-house movement for under £3,000 is amazing. I couldn't find a catch – it's beautifully made, feels great on the wrist and is every bit as good-looking as watches that cost four, five and even ten times as much. You pays your money...” The Worldtimer recalls a classic and elegant look with the subtle world map detailing on the silver dial. The 42mm stainless steel case houses the FC-718 manufacture movement, combining an automatic date function – adjustable via the crown and indicated with the small dial in the 6 o’clock position – with the world time feature.
Greubel Forsey GMT While other GMTs are heralded for their minimalist aesthetic and clean lines, Greubel Forsey has thrown any notion of simplicity to the wind – after all, there’s nothing understated about a mini titanium, rotating globe. After exploring the limitations of tourbillons, on this model the brand has incorporated its trademark complication with a new one. “True to form, Monsieurs Greubel and Forsey have found a way to depict this almost run-ofthe-mill complication in a fresh and incredibly different way while applying their immense cerebral abilities to also make it intellectually interesting,” says Elizabeth Doerr. The world is truly in your hands with this watch as it incorporates a 3D spinning terrestrial globe that makes one complete rotation anticlockwise every 24 hours, allowing the wearer to cross-reference the position of the continents with the 24-hour day-night indicator on the equatorial chapter ring. The caseback bears a world time disc that enables the dial-side globe to be automatically set in the correct position by aligning the chosen city with the local hour on the chapter rings. Popping at the seams with unique and distinctive features, the Greubel Forsey GMT was almost designed to divide opinion. But for both Ian Skellern and Simon de Burton it is an easy favourite from the crop of recent GMTs. “It has to be the Greubel Forsey for its exquisite finish and imaginative interpretation,” de Burton declared when asked his number one.
Maîtres du Temps Chapter Three Reveal
IWC Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer IWC has proclaimed 2012 the year of the Pilot’s Watch, and for Alex Doak the Worldtimer ranks top in the globetrotting stakes. "It was rather lost in the sonic boom of the flashier Top Gun launches this January, but of all the year's world timers, the IWC is the most clearly laid out and feels the most balanced, given how confusing this complication can get." Optimum legibility has long been the driving focus for IWC’s pilot’s watches and, in this latest model, the outer ring features a notable city representing each time zone, including indications for Universal Time Coordinated and International Date Line in red. The hour in each zone is read by a 24-hour ring, which shows the standard time in each city below its name. One of the most discernable design changes to this watch compared to its predecessors is the vertical triple date display at 3 o’clock. On the Worldtimer the date moves in sync with the jumping hour hand, ensuring the right date in the right place.
The overwrought dials of GMTs so often get it wrong and it takes pieces like the Chapter Three Reveal to remind us that functionality does not have to come at the price of finesse. Once again Maîtres du Temps draws on the talents of two of today’s top independent watchmakers – Kari Voutilainen and Andreas Strehler – to create the brand’s first truly inhouse movement. And, while remaining a horological tour de force, the Chapter Three Reveal exudes a whimsical classicism in its playful approach to the GMT function. Hidden beneath the deep-blue dial is a secret revealed with a touch of the pusher set into the crown. Behind panels at 6 and 12 o’clock are two additional indications – a second time zone and an engraved and hand-painted daynight indicator respectively – each on Maîtres du Temps’ signature rollers. The newest member of the QP team, Eleanor Pryor, has fallen head over heels for the elegant round case and stylish dial, summarising that: “The Chapter Three Reveal’s aesthetics are guaranteed to please the day-to-day wearer, yet it is the concealed agenda beneath that makes it the perfect travelling companion.”
Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica
Nomos Glashütte Tangomat GMT “To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, via Tracey Emin: ‘a watch is a dial is a watch’. Nomos realises this and with the Tangomat GMT there is absolute clarity of presentation and ease of use, plus an in-house movement,” says Timothy Treffry. The Tangomat certainly stands out amongst its competitors with the way it achieves the feat of adding the GMT complication without compromising the minimalist look on which Nomos Glashütte has made its name. At the push of a button you can choose any time zone in the world, indicated by the airport code of a major city in the 9 o’clock position. The corresponding 24-hour indicator is at 3 o’clock. The adaptation of the original Tangomat design retains the trademark Deutscher Werkbund styling of the brand with its clean lines and functional display. The 40mm stainless steel case contains the inhouse Calibre XI and the piece retails at a very reasonable £2,870.
“I'd go travelling the world with the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT any day of the week. And I wouldn't care what time it was – either of them. For me this is all about style – the cream numerals, matte case, even the texture of the strap. Too many watch designers overlook the tactility and light qualities of materials, unless it's to make them really shiny. But this is pure understatement.” says Josh Sims. And understatement truly is key with the PAM 441. Fitted with the P.9001 calibre, which rotates both the primary and secondary hands every 12 hours, this model has once again cast off the second set of hour markers, giving no indication of day or night. But what it forsakes in legibility it more than makes up for in elegance. The main divergence from previous Luminor GMT’s is the 44mm case made from matte black ceramic, which, aside from the aesthetic allure, offers improved scratch resistance and a degree of hardness up to five times greater than that of stainless steel. The difference also comes out in the detail, with a contrasting colour of luminescence on the numerals and hands. The Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica comes on a leather strap with a titanium buckle, and is also available in the all-black Tuttonero version with ceramic bracelet.
Seiko Astron GPS Solar “I’ve always had something of an issue with GMT/world timers on the grounds that a function added to a watch should make things easier,” says James Gurney. “As counting to 12 is not terribly difficult, even when you’re jetlagged, then GMT/worldtimers need to be ultra-clear (or attractive) to be worth the bother. Who would actually bother with the Sky-Dweller’s four-step manipulation when it’s frankly easier on the mind to work it out yourself, easier on the eye to have a regular watch and easier on the pocket to simply not bother.“
Rolex Sky-Dweller “GMTs can get very messy – too many incriminations and too many knobs” says style guru Tom Stubbs. “But Rolex has used the steeply-slanted fluted bezel as a main control device, thus the traditional Rolex handwriting and format remains intact, yet with serious functionality at one’s disposal.” The Ring Command bezel is certainly the selling point of the Sky-Dweller, allowing the wearer to choose the individual function to be set – local time, reference time or date – by rotating the bezel and adjusting the selected function with the winding crown. Ken Kessler also praises the feature: “Like Vogard before it, Rolex has realised that rotating the bezel to deal with the changing time zones is the most sensible, obvious solution to watch setting.” Housed within the robust 42mm Oyster case is Rolex’s new mechanical selfwinding movement, the Calibre 9001, incorporating a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers. “It does all the tricks without looking like a gadget” says Tom Stubbs. “You’ve gotta love a new Roley, no?”
While the Rolex failed to impress, the high-tech ingenuity of the Seiko Astron GPS Solar managed to grab Gurney’s attention to make it one of his top choices this year. The watch uses GPS satellite technology to determine time zone data and once a day automatically receives a signal, allowing it to pinpoint the time across 39 different zones with Atomic Clock precision. When arriving in a new place just one press of a button is all that is required to change to local time, and the Astron also boasts a perpetual calendar that will remain accurate until February 2100. Completing its techy credentials, the timepiece is solar-powered and constructed from lightweight, yet durable, high-intensity titanium, released in a limited edition of 2,500 pieces. The Seiko Astron GPS Solar also comes in two stainless steel versions and will be available worldwide this autumn.