If there is a complication in a mechanical watch that best suits a modern lifestyle, it would certainly have to be the one that displays multiple time zones. Sure, a chronograph is architecturally beautiful in its movement with an engaging tactility that makes it so well loved, but in terms of practicality in today’s world, I would say that for me, it would have to be the former that takes top prize. Today, we look at one of the most famous time-zone watches, the Patek Philippe World Time, specifically the Ref. 5231G.
As it has become increasingly easy and necessary to fly through different time-zones, it is no coincidence that the Patek Philippe World Time range has become one of the manufacture’s most popular models. This was not always the case as there were not many vintage World Time watches made by Patek Philippe in the last century. Models such as the Ref. 2523 and Ref. 1415 HU were made is such scarce quantities that today they are some of the most valuable and collectible vintage Patek Philippe pieces.
Always present at the central disc of Patek Philippe World Time watches are either enamelled artworks or more traditionally for the entry level versions are guilloched patterns. So, for 2022 Patek Philippe pays tribute to the dynamism of South-East Asia and to Oceania by interpreting this model in a new white-gold version with a Grande Feu cloisonné enamel dial. To combine geography with poetry, the artisan marks off the outlines of continents with a thin gold wire. This is new filled with various enamel colours reproducing the oceans and land masses, while repeatedly firing the enamelled dial plate at a high temperature in a kiln.
Of course, what remains the same is the Louis Cottier method of displaying all the time zones in 24 cities. By pressing the pusher at 10 o’clock, the user can switch time zones through jumping hour hands and rotating concentric discs on the dial, displaying both the home time and the current time zone. The movement, the manufactures in house calibre 240 HU, is an ultra-thin self-winding movement with a 22k micro rotor contributing to its slim profile. It was in my opinion a good call not to change the movement as it follows the age-old phrase “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. With a tolerance of -3 to +2 seconds a day, it is pretty much as good as it gets for mechanical time keeping and with its time zone automatic winding systems, it is so easy to use and read. The balance of hierarchal information on the dial works very well. Top this off with the excellent finishing as expected and what you have is a well decorated, functional, and practical movement.
The ref. 5231G case designs remains close to that of the 5230 and is only available in this configuration in a white-gold case that measures a classic 38.5mm. The Calatrava shaped case is bold in design with angular winglet style lugs and a narrow-polished bezel. The hands feature a classic open hour hand to aid legibility, with a slender leaf-shaped minute hand.
The Patek Philippe World Time ref. 5231-001 is only available in white-gold, and is priced at £68,310. For more information, visit patek.com.