Top Four World Timers
Racing through the winding back alleys of Lima, Peru, camera in hand, there's no time to be working out if it's the middle of the night in London or not; that story needs to be out the door and onto the front page in mere hours, and what self-respecting journalist needs his head filled with mathematical nonsense when the target's getting away? With that in mind, and with our press passes tucked neatly into our hatbands, we travel the world to try out some of the best world timers available today. What a story! What a scoop!
Tissot Heritage Navigator 160th Anniversary
You might not have given Tissot a second look a few years ago, but since the launch of some exceptionally well-dressed vintage reissue pieces, the brand has reinvigorated some of its early pizazz to become genuinely desirable. Beyond mere technicality, the Tissot Heritage Navigator 160th Anniversary is a thing of beauty, a palette of silvers, greys and blues painted on to a gently sweeping canvas that looks every bit as expensive as you think it is. But think again, because the price of this saucy number is just a shade over £1,000, making its value as stunning as its looks.
Using the watch is simple: time is set as per usual, while the world timer disk is set like a GMT hand. That done, home time is read from the bezel, and each city aligns with its corresponding twenty-four hour time on the dial. There is, of course, a down side, and that comes by way of proportions - the Navigator is 43mm in diameter, so those more slender of wrist may feel a little off balance.
Did you know? Before a mechanical means of tracking time was devised, the only regulation of the day was from the sun. With the invention of the clock, people across the world could use the local solar position to set the time by, logically and accidentally creating the first forms of time zone.
Watch Spec | Tissot Heritage Navigator 160th Anniversary
Case: Steel Dimensions: 43mm dia, 9.6mm thick Crystal: Anti-reflective coated synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 30m Movement: ETA 2893-3, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power reserve: 42 hours Functions: Time, world time
Baume et Mercier Capeland Worldtimer 10106
Baume et Mercier have been carving away at the 'affordable premium' niche rather well of late, with the Capeland Flyback Chronograph providing Audemars Piguet looks and quality (well, nearly) for a more reasonable asking price. The imaginatively named 'Worldtimer' continues in this vein, offering a richly detailed product for around the £5,000 mark, although, in the company of the Tissot, it has a lot to justify.
And justify it does: inside the engine room beats a heavily modified Sellita movement with a custom world timer module, which drives beautifully blued Breguet hands under a deeply curved sapphire crystal, all encased in finely sculpted steel. The build quality and finish is definitively up from the Tissot - but at five times the price. And the cost isn't the only thing that's bigger; the case size is up a millimetre from the Navigator, sitting it alongside Panerai in terms of dimensions. The world timer function isn’t as elegant as Tissot's either, the rotating wheel transporting the hours around the cities rather than the other way around, reducing the romance and drama somewhat - even if it does provide the same function.
Did you know? Sailing across vast oceans needed more than a good sense of direction, so Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was established in 1675 as a reference for mariners to determine longitude by. GMT also provided a basis for the world time zones, although it wouldn't be until much later that this was adopted globally.
Watch Spec | Baume et Mercier Capeland Worldtimer 10106
Case: Steel Dimensions: 44mm dia, 14.5mm thick Crystal: Anti-reflective coated synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 50m Movement: Modified Sellita SW300, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power reserve: 42 hours Functions: Time, date, world time
Alpina Worldtimer Manufacturer
That's enough of vintage-inspired horology - now it's time for something a bit more up-to-date. Alpina may not ring any bells, but it should; this is a watch with an in-house world timer movement, a cleverly layered dial, superb build quality and a cost of entry at only £2,780. Just look at it! It has that rare quality of being intriguingly unusual without being different for differences' sake, and little touches like the red triangle at the end of the seconds hand, the raised twelve o'clock marker and the floating date sub-dial all point to a price that should be much higher. Even the movement - which, I will remind you, is in-house - differs from the norm with its strangely elegant rotor weight.
This is another 44mm watch, but the modern styling allows for it. Unlike the vintage styled pieces on the previous pages, the Alpina feels like it should be chunky and solid, rather than slender and sophisticated. Now hold that thought, because you’re about to experience serious déjà vu.
Did you know? A global 24-hour clock was first conceived in 1876 by Sir Sandford Fleming, its genesis located at a central point on Earth. Three years later, he revised his idea, and it was agreed at the International Meridian Conference in 1884 that the universal day would begin at midnight in Greenwich.
Watch Spec | Alpina Worldtimer Manufacturer
Case: Steel Dimensions: 44mm dia Crystal: Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 100m Movement: Cal. AL-718, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power reserve: 42 hours Functions: Time, date, world time
IWC Pilot's Watch Worldtimer IW326201
Wait, what? I thought we'd already done the Alpina? Slow down, my over-eager friend, because this is IWC's Pilot's Watch Worldtimer, which was introduced at the same time as the Alpina. This watch is easier described by its differences than its similarities, so that's where we'll begin. For starters, the IWC has an extra millimetre on the Alpina, plus the central dial apportions more space to itself within the case. Gone is the date sub-dial and in is an altimeter-inspired date window. Both the Alpina and the IWC use a rotating twenty-four hour wheel for their world timers. Oh, and the IWC is more than twice the cost.
The IWC does marginally pip the Alpina in terms of quality, like the Baume et Mercier does the Tissot, but in both scenarios it's clear that for our time-strapped journalist, picking the most expensive watch isn't necessarily the right option. It's not the wrong option, either; it is a demonstration that a little bit of research can save a prospective buyer a wad of cash without diminishing the smile they'll have when they make their purchase. Now that's a scoop.
Did you know? It took over a hundred years for universal time to be globally accepted, with Nepal closing the loop in 1986, but because a day is slightly longer than 24 hours by 0.9 seconds, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) was established, and GMT was adjusted to match in 1972.
Watch Spec | IWC Pilot's Watch Worldtimer IW326201
Case: Steel Dimensions: 45mm dia, 13.5mm thick Crystal: Anti-reflective coated synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 60m Movement: Modified ETA 2892, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power reserve: 42 hours Functions: Time, date, world time