WATCH COLLECTORS KNOW THAT MOST COMPLICATION MECHANISMS ARE, BY AND LARGE, ATTRACTIONS RATHER THAN NECESSITIES. A minute repeater may chime the time with clarity and accuracy, and a tourbillon may possibly improve timekeeping precision. But these mostly demonstrate mastery of horological arts, and serve as points of interest and conversation starters. A combination of complications, paired with unconventional style and materials, gives the collector the pleasure of owning something that few others do.
The argument changes somewhat, though, when it comes to multi-time zone watches. The ability to simultaneously tell time both where the wearer is, as well as in any another city or country, is both impressive and practical. While such watches are generally created for travellers, some are designed for the men in the cockpit with a high standard of legibility. Some pilot’s watches are fashion statements and end there. Others are functional enough to aid pilots in their planning, and are housed in cases resistant to external loads and varying ambient pressure. Here we present some top-drawer multi-time zone and pilot’s watches that offer both aesthetic and functional appeal.
PATEK PHILIPPE CALATRAVA PILOT TRAVEL TIME
Patek Philippe raised a few eyebrows with the introduction of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time last year. Unlike anything that the classically inclined brand has done before, the timepiece recalls vintage pilot’s watches with its wide dial, large 42mm case, and stylised indicators primed for contrast and optimum legibility. While other sports watches in the brand’s repertoire, including the Nautilus and Aquanaut, express casual luxury, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time oozes rugged appeal. That’s not to say that it is wanting in refinement. The case is constructed in 18K white gold, as are the hour markers. Driving the timepiece is the Calibre 324 SC FUS, an in-house automatic movement equipped with two-time zone functionality, am/pm indicators for the local and home time, and date display.
AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK DUAL TIME
An iconic sports watch recognised the world over naturally deserves a complication that keeps track of different time zones. In the Dual Time, the Royal Oak’s athleticism gets a boost with two-time zone functionality. Driven by an automatic movement, the second time zone display at 6 o’clock makes the read-off a cinch, and is accompanied by a day/night indicator just to its left. A date indicator at ‘2’ can be adjusted with ease thanks to its quick-set mechanism. A 38-hour power reserve marker that looks like a fuel gauge adds a touch of cockpit style
BREGUET CLASSIQUE HORA MUNDI 5727
A follow-up to the Classique Hora Mundi 5157 from five years ago, the new reference 5727 offers the original’s multi-functional, multi-time zone complication with a refreshed dial. The user can call up the time from one of 24 world cities by activating a pusher at ‘8’ to select the city. This instantaneously triggers the 24-hour display at ‘12’ and the date display to reflect the time and date of the chosen city. Equally impressive is the timepiece’s aesthetic update. Housed in a white or rose gold case, the new dial design features a hobnail pattern as a base, accompanied by flame and cross-weave motifs on the day/night indicator.
MULTI-TIME ZONE COMPLICATIONS ARE BOTH TECHNICALLY IMPRESSIVE AND PRACTICAL
BLANCPAIN VILLERET QUANTIÈME ANNUEL GMT
Blancpain has rolled out a good number of calendars over the years but still surprises collectors with new executions, such as this annual calendar with GMT. Available in white or red gold, this timepiece manages to stay true to the uncluttered aesthetic of the Villeret collection despite its multi-functionality. A 24-hour counter at ‘8’ shows the second time zone, while three small windows on the right display the day, date and month. The calendar adjustment pushers are tucked under the lugs to keep the look clean and elegant.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN OVERSEAS WORLD TIME
Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas World Time shows travellers the time in 37 different time zones, including those that are off-set by a half-hour or quarter-hour in relation to UTC time. This requires a larger case with a diameter of 43.5mm, enough room to offer legibility as well as to showcase a centre ring on the dial, depicting a map. This is surrounded by a translucent lacquered disc bearing the city names. A third disc displays day/night indications by means of subtly graded smoky tints, synchronised with the 24-hour disc. The outermost ring displays the hours and minutes. Part of the charm of any Overseas watch is the interchangeable straps feature, with the Overseas World Time offering a rubber strap, alligator strap and steel bracelet.
BREITLING AVENGER HURRICANE
The Breitling Avenger Hurricane eclipses all of this year’s pilot’s watches by heft, measuring 50mm across and almost 17mm in height. Its most noteworthy feature is its case, a proprietary polymer material called Breitlight that is six times lighter than steel, but significantly harder. This material boasts a number of properties, including antimagnetic qualities and thermal stability. The Avenger Hurricane’s in-house B12 movement, a self-winding chronograph with 24-hour display, is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute. Add water resistance up to 100 metres, luminescent hands and numerals, glareproof sapphire crystal and a non-slip grip, and you get a pilot’s watch that’s truly more than just a wrist statement.
SOME ARE CREATED FOR TRAVELLERS, WHILE OTHERS ARE DESIGNED FOR THE MEN IN THE COCKPIT
IWC PILOT’S WATCH TIMEZONER CHRONOGRAPH
Eschewing the vintage appeal of the IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage models and the military allure of the Top Gun range, the Timezoner Chronograph instead offers extreme user-friendliness. The wearer can set the time zone along with the date and 24-hour hand in a single movement — a world first, says IWC. All one needs to do is press and rotate the bezel. The complication offers a choice of time zones of 24 world cities and also factors in calculations for summer time. It is complemented by a flyback chronograph, which lends the watch a sporty edge.
RICHARD MILLE RM 50-02 ACJ
One of the talking points at this year’s SIHH watch fair is this offering from Richard Mille, which is limited to 30 pieces. The RM 50-02 ACJ was created in collaboration with Airbus Corporate Jets, hence the initials. The timepiece’s manualwinding movement boasts a tourbillon and a splits-seconds chronograph, but it’s the aeronautic elements that make it special. Its porthole-shaped case, the titanium-aluminium alloy used to make it, and the use of Torq-Set screws on the bezel all reference the style and material used on ACJ aircraft. Even the white shade on the bezel is no simple matte finish — it is a corrosion-resistant coating used to protect aircraft engine parts.
SPEAKE-MARIN WING COMMANDER
Independent English watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin has streamlined his repertoire in recent years, and now offers three lean but distinctive collections. The Wing Commander hails from the Spirit line, which pays tribute to the British military. As the name suggests, the Wing Commander is a masculine pilot’s watch with gravitas — from the 42mm titanium case with plus-sized crown to the dial interface with huge hands and markers, complemented by ‘small’ complications of date and power reserve. Yet, it is also distinctively Speake-Marin. The vintage-style ‘Foundation’ hands and shuriken-shaped seconds sub-dial are brand trademarks that watch aficionados will immediately recognise.