Patek Philippe GMT Travel Time and World-timer Watches
Patek Philippe produces the ultimate expression of travel watches. The collection includes dressy and sporty travel models. Perhaps the most sought after models are the Nautilus and Aquanaut travel watches. However, there is another, the original travel watch from Patek which includes a more complicated and sophisticated movement: the world-timer.
What is a GMT watch? Normally a GMT watch uses a movement that includes a third hand indicating a second time-zone. On classic GMT watches, that hand points to markings on the bezel showing 24 hours. Classic example is the Rolex GMT Master II. With such watches the bezel rotates (both directions) to allow the user to set the home-time when traveling. This allows the user to have two times when traveling: the local and home times.
There are many other ways to present two time zones in a watch. Patek’s version of the GMT is implemented in their sports travel watches. In these models the second time zone is done in an elegant fashion with a skeletonize hand that can easily be hidden behind the hour hand. This allows the watch to be used as a normal three hand watch when needed. Of course, to implement a true GMT you cannot only have a second hour hand, you also need to show AM / PM for the GMT hand as well as make it easy for the user to change it.
How does Patek implements these two features in their travel time watches? For the Aquanaut travel time (references 5164A in steel and 5164R in rose gold), the first such model, the dial includes two indicators for AM / PM that turns white and blue as the time passes for the local and the home time. To make it easy to change the time when the user arrives at his or her travel (local) location, she only needs to push on one of the two indicators on the left side of the case. The top one to move the second hour hand forward and the bottom to go backward.
The movement is made in such a way that it is fool proof. This means that the travel time indicator can be pushed at anytime and you cannot push both (up and down) at once. For the Nautilus travel time (reference 5990/1A in steel), the implementation of the pushers is even more elegant. The pushers integrate into the shape of the Nautilus case making them disappear as they blend into the Nautilus port hole case design. This model also includes a chronograph with pushers on the right side and inner 60 minute counter subdial for the chronograph at 6 o’clock which work to balance the watch.
Patek continuously improves these travel time models over the years as was done with the introduction of the Aquanaut advanced research model (reference 5650G in white gold) where the pushers exert force on parts of the movement that use a compliant (flexible) mechanism which requires no lubrication. The limited model includes a cut out of the case at 9 o’clock to allow the user to view the advanced mechanism as the pushers are pressed.
In 2019, Patek introduced a grand complication travel time model with the reference 5520P alarm travel time. This is a platinum Calatrava Pilot-style case that includes a 24 hours digital alarm with a hammer that strikes on a classic gong. At 42.2 mm it is imposing and sporty for the typically classically-styled brand while also including SuperLuminova applications on the vintage-style numerals and sword shaped hour and minutes hands. Two other references also exist for this model, 5524G in white gold and 5524R in rose gold.
While the Travel Time watches are practical and elegant, Patek Philippe includes an even more fancier family of watches for traveling: the world-timer models. These models are the original travel watches done in the slim, classic, and dressy Calatrava-style case but include a world time movement. Unlike regular GMT or travel time watches, these movements allow the user to see the current time on all of the world’s time zones at once and at a glance.
In these world time watches, the dial includes normal two (or three) hands showing the time at the user's current location. These are operated as normally would with crown. However, included in the dial, are two rings, one fix and one rotating. The fix ring (outer) has markers for the different cities around the world, representing 24 time zones as you move around the globe. The cities are typically large important international cities, representing the time zone where they are located, e.g., New York for the Eastern time zone.
The second ring (closer to the center of the dial) rotates and is marked with 24 hours indices. This ring is also divided into two half rings (typically white and black) to color the time on the 24 hour scale where it is PM and AM. The rotating ring turns counterclockwise and as the numerals turn, they match (are close to) some city on the outer ring indicating the hour in that city and by proxy that time-zone. The user can adjust time on the ring by pulling the crown to the second position and turning it.
Patek's implementation of the world-timer includes many variations, including one so famous that it requires an application to purchase. For this model (reference 5131/1P in platinum, shown above), the center of the dial includes a map of the northern hemisphere (or southern) that roughly matches the location of the cities on the outer ring. And to make it even more desirable, the implementation of the map is done in hand-painted cloisonné enamel. Giving the watch an eternal look. Other models of the world-timer (references 5230G and 5230R in white and rose gold respectively) are less colorful with a center dial in beautiful charcoal gray lacquered with hand-guillochée.
There are also a series of models for ladies that build on the overall styling of the 5230 models but are more feminine with a 36 mm case and include diamond encrusted bezels and clasp. The two variations include an ivory opaline, hand-guillochée dial in rose gold for reference 7130R. And one with a grey blue hand-guillochée dial in white gold with reference 7130G.
Patek surprised world time watch lovers in 2016 when they introduced yet another model (reference 5930G in white gold) that included a 30 minutes chronograph. A first for world-timer watches. And it’s the same 28-520 base movement used in the Nautilus 5990/1A mentioned before. It includes 30 minutes counter and uses Patek’s latest movement improvements such as the Gyromax balance and Spiromax balance spring.
All of Patek Philippe world time or travel time watches are automatic watches, so is the chronograph, making them perfect for traveling over the Atlantic or Pacific, on long trips where the user has to seat on the plane for ½ day to get to a business meeting once they arrive at their travel location.
So whether you are looking for a distinctive GMT watch to travel the world and have a sporty look or one for the boardroom, the Patek Philippe travel and world time watches are designed for the executive in mind. With the Aquanaut and Nautilus you have the sporty-chic variants and with the world-timers you have a set of distinguished models that fit all dressy occasions and are perfect for the boardroom.