The world-timer watch is a century-old solution to an increasingly modern problem: how to juggle the many different timezones of colleagues, suppliers and clients.
While a simple GMT watch lets you keep track of a single secondary timezone, a world-timer displays the time in 24 zones simultaneously.
These watches typically features two bezels – one with markings for 24-hour time, and another which shows each of the major cities in 24 timezones.
One bezel will slowly rotate, driven by the movement, and complete one revolution per day. This allows a wearer to tell the time in any time zone at a glance by finding the city and reading the corresponding 24 hour indicator next to it.
Prices for mechanical world-timer watches can vary wildly from the somewhat-affordable to the eye-wateringly expensive. Here are our five top picks for the business traveller.
Tissot Heritage Navigator 160th Anniversary
Tissot is a well-regarded Swiss brand with an extensive history dating back to 1853. The Tissot Heritage Navigator 160thAnniversary celebrates this lineage, as well as offering one of the most affordable mechanical world-timers available today.
With a steel case measuring 43mm by 9.6mm this is also the slimmest world-timer in this round-up, ensuring this watch will slip easily under a shirt cuff.
The Tissot Heritage Navigator 160thAnniversary boasts Chronometer certification from Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) in Switzerland, ensuring accuracy within -6/+4 seconds per day. Water resistance is rated at 3 bar, so this isn’t a watch you can swim with, and the included strap is embossed cow leather rather than genuine alligator. But for the asking price of around $2,300 those few compromises can be forgiven.
Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum
Perhaps best known for its writing instruments, Montblanc also produces some truly high-end watches. The Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum is as classic a world-timer as you could ask for, featuring a map of the globe prominently displayed in the centre of the dial.
The city disk is ringed by a 24-hour bezel, half of which is shaded a deep blue to act as a day-night indicator.
The steel case of the Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum measures 43mm by 11.87mm and offers 5 bar water resistance, making this a watch that could be worn around a pool or on the beach. The included strap is also genuine alligator this time, reflecting the higher price point of around $8,000.
Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime
Brietling has long been associated with flight and aviation, so it should come as no surprise that this Swiss brand offers some pretty serious world-timer watches.
The Breitling Navitimer 8 includes two features unique among watches in this round-up; a date complication, and a bi-directional rotating timing bezel, both of which can provide a lot of utility for the frequent flyer.
Like all Breitling timepieces this is a COSC certified Chronometer, ensuring on-wrist accuracy and reliability. The watch comes attached to a genuine crocodile leather strap and features 10 bar water resistance, but it also has the thickest steel case of the bunch at 43mm by 14.55mm. Breitling are a luxury-tier brand, which is certainly reflected by the sticker price of $10,600.
Jaeger Le-Coultre Geophysic Universal Time
Jaeger-LeCoultre are well known amongst serious watch collectors as one of the most horologically significant Swiss brands.
In addition to the world-time complication, the Geophysic Universal Time also features a “dead-beat seconds” complication, causing the second hand to tick once per second in a manner identical to a quartz movement.
The steel case measures 41.6mm by 11.84mm, offers 5 bar water resistance and comes attached to a matching 5-link steel bracelet.
Jaeger-LeCoultre also subjects their watches to a 1000 hours in-house control test more rigorous than COSC Chronometer certification, but the brand’s pedigree and this level of over-engineering comes with a cost; the Jaeger Le-Coultre Geophysic Universal Time is priced at $20,300.
Patek Philippe 5230 World Time
Patek Philippe have long been regarded as one of the most prestigious watch brands in the world. Its watches have been worn by royalty for hundreds of years and have won countless international awards.
The world-time complication in particular is emblematic of the Patek Philippe brand, as they were responsible for producing the first world-timer wristwatch back in 1937.
This Patek Philippe 5230 World Time is encased in 18k white gold, and measures 38.5mm by 10.12mm making this the smallest world-timer of the group.
The watch and movement are beautifully hand-decorated and bear the Patek Philippe Seal, which guarantees accuracy to within -3 to +2 seconds per day, and its classy looks are complemented by a genuine crocodile leather strap.
A relatively modest 3 bar water resistance relegates this timepiece to dress-watch duties only. This is truly an heirloom grade watch, and the cost is commensurate at $57,700.