The 10 Best World Timers Of All Time
Always on the move? A world timer is the ideal timepiece for stylish globetrotters.
Touching down in Paris on Thursday afternoon with a call scheduled with Singapore in the evening while trying to catch the game in Australia? You need a world timer.
Arguably one of the most useful watch complications, the world-time function allows the time to be simultaneously tracked in all 24 primary time zones. This differentiates it from the similarly useful GMT, which is only able to track the time in two time zones.
The world-time function was initially seen in late 19th century pocket watches, before being patented by independent Swiss watchmaker Louis Cottier in the early 1930s. The complication was swiftly adopted by the likes of Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin. To this day, the fundamentals of Cottier’s creation remain largely unchanged.
As a watch is no longer required to track the time around the world (hello, mobile phones), only a handful of manufactures currently produce watches with world-time functions. However, there’s a certain quaint appeal in being able to tell the time around the world with a single glance at your wrist. And, for many watchmakers, the world time watch serves as a means to showcase their métiers d’art. The centre of the dial serves as the ideal canvas for manufactures to flex their artistic prowess; from Omega’s laser ablations to Patek Philippe’s grand feu cloisonné enamel.
While they’re yet to attain the same hotly coveted status as tool watches and sports watches, world timers are the timepiece of choice for those who respect mechanical complexity and considered artistry in equal measure. Here, Robb Report’s selection of the best world timers on the market.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer
A marked deviation from the Swiss manufacture’s typical nautical-inspired take on the style, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer offers a sartorially minded timepiece for the consummate traveller. Here, a sun-brushed green dial framed by a green ceramic bezel plays host to a miniature replica of the world as viewed from above the North Pole, laser-ablated onto the titanium dial surface. The 24-hour indication is divided into day and night, with the names of each location printed in yellow gold—with the exception of London which is red to denote Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The timepiece is powered by the in-house Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8938.
Bulgari Octo Roma WorldTimer
Adopting a distinctly Bulgari approach to the world timer, the Bulgari Octo Roma WorldTimer caters to the contemporary traveller. The periphery of the dial features substitutions to typical locales—St Barths, the Maldives, and Anchorage appearing among them—aiming the timepiece at well-heeled pleasure-seekers and working professionals alike. The 41mm stainless steel case is executed in the Octo collection’s signature octagonal format, with the in-house self-winding calibre BVL257 resulting in a mere 11.35mm width. True to its sporty appearance, the Bulgari Octo Roma WorldTimer boasts 100m water resistance.
Patek Philippe Ref. 5231G
An early adopter of the world-time function, Patek Philippe has perfected the world timer over almost a century, creating some of the most beautiful examples in the category. The Patek Philippe Ref. 5231G pays homage to Asia Pacific through its grand feu cloisonné enamel dial which depicts the region in vivid colour, with continents outlined in fine gold wire. With comparatively slimline proportions for a world timer, the Patek Philippe Ref. 5231G takes shape in a 38.5mm white gold case measuring just 10.23mm wide. It’s powered by the self-winding calibre 240 HU, a 24-hour movement with a day/night indicator.
Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit
Alas, this is not a true world timer, but it’s cool enough to include anyway. The Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit houses a truly unique movement that simultaneously displays the current time in seven time zones at a single glance. Six apertures spread across the map on the dial depict the time in each city. While the selected cities seem random at first glance—Phoenix would not be the usual go-to city to represent North America—the independent watchmaker selected regions that don’t participate in Daylight Savings Time, meaning no adjustment is necessary. While a little extra math is required to tell the time in every city, it’s still a nifty bit of watchmaking. The hours of the main city are displayed via the central hour hand, with the minutes and seconds corresponding to all cities. Each hour aperture is placed at the exact city coordinates on the map, with the map itself detailing oceans, continents, and longitude and latitude lines. The 44.5mm stainless steel world timer is presented on an alligator leather strap in black, brown, or blue.
Approx. $87,890; boutique.grossmann-uhren
A more rugged take on the world timer, the layout of the Bremont ALT1-W1 is informed by the manufacture’s military pedigree. The world-time function is operated via a bidirectional crown at 8 o’clock, while the chronograph is controlled by pushers at 2 and 5 o’clock. The tricompax dial layout includes a date aperture and small seconds, 30-minute, and 12-hour subdials. The clean chapter ring houses the names of cities in 24 time zones. It’s powered by the modified calibre BE-54AE, visible through the sapphire glass caseback, with the 43mm stainless steel timepiece guaranteeing 100m of water resistance.
Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite
The Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite utilises an atypical dial layout, with local time indicated by the central hour and minute hands while home time is displayed on the subdial at 12 o’clock. While most world timers showcase 24 time zones (which diverge from Greenwich Mean Time), the Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite covers 35 time zones. The standard 24 time zones are indicated in while while the remaining eight—differentiated by three-quarter hours or half-hours from GMT—use light blue. Uniquely, this timepiece uses three letter airport codes to denote local and home time zones (i.e. JFK for New York and BKK for Bangkok).
IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph
Exuding IWC signature rugged style, the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph measures 46mm in diameter, with the stainless steel case framed by a bezel that controls the world-time function. The chronograph function is controleld by pushers at 2 and 5 o’clock, with a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and combined hour and minute counters at 12 o’clock.
Chopard L.U.C Time Travel One
Embodying understated elegance, the Chopard L.U.C Time Travel One features a slim 42mm stainless steel case, with a legible black dial complemented by orange Super-LumiNova Arabic numerals and hour markers. Local time is displayed in 12-hour format, denoted via the orange markers, while home (or away) time uses a 24-hour disc. The centre of the dial also features a clever date display, indicated by the shortest central hand.
Approx. $21,660; chopard.com
Montblanc Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum
An artful interpretation of the world-time function, the Montblanc Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum derives its name from the Latin words for ‘globe’, ‘earth’, and ‘world’. Aptly, it features a rotating disc under the depiction of the earth, shifting from light to dark blue to indicate day and night. The 43mm stainless steel timepiece is powered by the calibre MB 29.20 and has 50m water resistance.
Approx. $11,345; montblanc.com
Andersen Genève Tempus Terrae Worldtime
Founded by Danish master watchmaker Svend Andersen in 1979, Andersen Genève is a master when it comes to world timers. Andersen Genève creations display the 24 time zones in a classic two-ring format around the periphery of the dial, using the centre to showcase various métiers d’art. The Tempus Terrae Worldtime features a hand-engraved tapisserie guilloché motif rendered in the manufacture’s signature BlueGold, while the bezel of the 39mm white gold case—which features distinctive angular ‘broken’ lugs—is set with 36 baguette-cut gemstones (either aquamarine or blue sapphire).
Subscribe to the Newsletter
Recommended for you
Celebs pulled out all the horological stops for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
November 27, 2023
The timepieces have a romance and history to them that few others can match.
By Bryan Hood
November 21, 2023