Moon phases, minute repeaters, and retrogrades are complications that are as compelling as they are complex, but for the avid traveller who spends half his time negotiating through the haze of jet lag, all bells and whistles have to make way for more practical ones.
Time travel indications have been known for being one of the most practical in luxury timepieces, but for those who truly want something fuss-free, dual time watches are usually the most sought-after.
Defined as watches that legibly display two time zones simultaneously, dual time watches allow the wearer to set a “home” time zone for quick reference, a convenience now eclipsed by technology thanks to smartwatches and phones. However, we believe there’s always a certain romance in keeping your home time physically close to heart as you’re traversing paths unknown in a different country.
The first timepieces with dual time zones had two separate movements and two dials, which were later upgraded to only one movement via a “clutch” mechanism for the second hour hand. While most watches use hands — distinguishable by varying shapes and colours — some manufacturers break the mould by using apertures instead.
Regardless of whether you’re having a serious bout of wanderlust or taking off for (yet another) a business trip, here are five dual time watches to make being on the other side of the world a little more enjoyable.
Montblanc’s new 4810 Dual Time is the simplest of a trio recently added to the lineup. It’s classically styled, reasonably priced and equipped with the same self-manufactured twin time zone module as the previous TwinFly Chronograph. The local time zone can be set backwards and forwards in one-hour steps, while the day/night indicator at 12 o’clock is linked to the home time. Look closely at the dial’s star guilloche motif and you’ll realise it’s essentially a concentrically repeated Montblanc logo. At 42mm, the timepiece — accompanied by an alligator-skin strap — would sit pretty on most wrists.
Housed within the first ever watch case designed by Michel Parmigiani, the Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde is a watch all travellers need. Unlike other dual time zone watches that can only be set in one hour steps, the calibre PF317 within enables the second time zone to be set to the minute too. Taking this functionality one step further are two day/night indicators for each time zone, so information is presented as concisely as possible. The date — indicated by a retrograde hand — sweeps across half the dial dramatically, adding flair to an otherwise practical and straightforward timepiece.
The use of negative space is not often explored on timepieces, but Jaquet Droz doesn’t care about being conventional. With centuries of manufacturing heritage, the storied Swiss brand takes on the dual time zone feature with two subdials set within a 43mm case. The larger dial – built around three concentric circles –indicates the seconds, home time on a 24-hour scale and the date. With the automatic calibre JD 2663H24, you’ll get a 65-hour power reserve. The timepiece comes in opaline and enamelled dials but the onyx and steel variation is perhaps the most contemporary of them all.
Finally a time zone watch that takes into account the bane of most traveller’s lives: daylight savings. Equipped with the ability to shift certain time zones forward during the summer via a dedicated pusher, the timepiece tells the local time with white Super-Luminova hands and home time with the open-worked hour hand. An arrow at the 6 o’clock mark indicates the city that represents the current local time zone, and indicators show day and night time for both time zones. An automatic in-house movement BVL191 powers the relatively large 45mm watch within.
Hermes continues to expand the Slim d’Hermes collection with a more contrasting platinum case with dark blue dial variant. The ultra-thin movement is powered by the in-house calibre H1950 that reveals the date, month, leap year, moon phase and second time zone with day/night indication, all on the compact 39.5mm timepiece. The Maison doesn’t neglect form for function — the moon phase is impeccably detailed, with a mother-of-pearl moon set against a starry aventurine glass sky.