2021, The Watch Year in Review: Eight Wordly Travel Watches

By almost any standard, the luxury watch world enjoyed a successful year in 2021 despite the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and its worldwide economic consequences — with high-profile retailers reopening and expanding, new auction records set, some large-scale industry events (like our own WatchTime New York) returning, and of course, a host of notable timepieces launched. As we wrap up 2021 and look ahead enthusiastically to 2022, we take our annual look back at some of the year’s notable timepieces in various popular categories. Today we showcase GMT and world-time watches for travelers.

Arnold & Son’s Globetrotter Gold is a luxurious update to the eye-catching 3D “globe on the wrist” design of the original Globetrotter, released in 2018. Its 18k rose-gold case measures a substantial 45 mm in diameter and frames a highly domed sapphire crystal covering its dazzling blue dial, with a global map of the Earth’s continents under a gold bridge, which rotates to indicate the time in all of the world’s time zones. The center of rotating dome showcases rhodium-plated continents and hand-painted blue lacquered oceans and coasts, along with a central red GMT hand that points to a 24-hour scale. The back of the watch features a sapphire window with a view of the exquistitely finished automatic Caliber A&S6022, with NAC treated surfaces, circular finished wheels, Geneva stripes, and a guilloché-accented and skeletonized 22k-rose-gold oscillating rotor. Click here for more detail on the Globetrotter Gold.

The Bulgari Octo Roma Worldtimer, offered in either brushed and polished stainless steel or black DLC-coated steel, is designed to be both attractive and utilitarian. In classic world-timer fashion, its dial enables a quick reading of the time in all of the 24 major time zones, using two rotating disks on the outer edge, one with a 24-hour scale, the other with the names of 24 world cities.The choice of locales on the city ring makes Bulgari’s world-time watch a bit different than most: all are meant to indicate the most upscale spot in a chosen time zone — super-exclusive St. Bart’s, for example, displacing Bermuda for the Caribbean region. The names are also indicative of cities in which Bulgari operates one of its branded hotels or plans to opens one. Inside the 41-mm octagonal case, which is a new manufacture caliber, the self-winding BVL257. Click here for our full report on the watch.

First launched in 2016 in steel and precious metals, Chopard’s L.U.C GMT One Black debuted this year in a case made of ceramised grade 5 titanium, a material used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical component manufacturing with exceptional hardness (700 Vickers), friction and corrosion resistance. The galvanic gray dial is rimmed by a snailed railway-track minute scale and a circular satin-brushed 24-hour ring divided into two sectors: light-gray daytime for hours and black for nighttime hours. The 42-mm case features two crowns, one to adjust the date and local time, the other to set the second-time zone, indicated on the scale by a central hand. Chopard’s Caliber L.U.C 01.10-L beats inside, with a 60-hour power reserve and COSC-certified chronometer accuracy. Read more about both of Chopard’s “Black Edition” travel watches here.

The Frederique Constant Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture features a new dial with a streamlined, engraved globe motif — an “ode to travel,” according to the brand, and a visual distinction that sets it apart from the Classic Worldtimer Manufacture models that preceded it, with their complex, map-like dials. The case is 41 mm in steel; the dial is predominantly blue, with silver-colored applied indices and luminous-treated hands. On its periphery is a city ring with 24 time zones and an inner 24-hour ring divided into day (white) and night (blue) sectors. Frederique Constant’s automatic manufacture Caliber FC-718 allows the world-time function to be operated entirely through the crown, with no additional push-buttons or correctors needed. More info can be found here.

As part of its year-long celebration of parent company Seiko’s 140th anniversary, Japanese luxury watchmaker Grand Seiko released the Elegance GMT collection, a series of four watches each celebrating a segment of the twenty-four seasonal phases observed in Japan. The rich green dial of the Shunbun Ref. SBGJ251 pictured here pays tribute to the peak of spring at the equinox known in Japanese as Shunbun: the special two-week period or so in April when cherry blossoms bloom, and sakura blossoms decorate the mountains of the Japanese countryside. The 39.5-mm-diameter case feature Grand Seiko’s hallmark Zaratsu polishing while the dial, with its gold-colored GMT hand, sports a nature-inspired texture. Inside the case is the Hi-Beat 36000 GMT caliber 9S86, an in-house automatic movement with a frequency of 36,000 vph, an accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day, and a 55-hour power reserve. Discover the entire Elegance GMT collection here.

Still relatively new to the scene, Norqain expanded its sporty collections in 2021, with one of the most notable new releases being the bronze-cased, forest-green-dialed version of the Freedom 60 GMT. The 40-mm-diameter case with customizable side plate frames the bronze-accented dial, with its white minute track, luminous-treated syringe-style hands, and central GMT ring with day/night sections in contrasting colors, upon which a central, red-arrow-tipped hand indicates a second time zone. Norqain’s proprietary Caliber NN20/2 powers the watch, with automatic winding, a 70-hour power reserve, and a COSC chronometer certification for timing accuracy. The movement is visible behind a sapphire caseback, with the Norqain “core values” — i.e., “Adventure – Freedom – Independence” — engraved upon its bridge. Click here for more info on the Freedom 60 GMT models.

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5930P-001 Self-Winding World Time Flyback Chronograph is the latest version of a popular high-complication model inspired by a piece from 1940 that combines a chronograph with a world-time display. The green center of the dial has a hand-guillochéd circular motif; surrounding it is a world-time ring with two city disks, with green-printed city names representing each of the world’s 24 major time zones. The chronograph readout is comparatively discreet, on a green 30-minute counter at 6 o’clock. The applied hour markers and Dauphine hands are made of white gold and the 39.5-mm platinum case is hand-polished. The in-house movement inside is the self-winding Caliber CH 28-520 HU, with a column wheel, a disk-type vertical clutch, and a patented mechanism that enables correction of all displays simultaneously when the wearer is changing time zones by pressing the pusher at 10 o’clock. You can find more details on it and several other new Patek complications here.

Porsche Design channels the monochromatic black design of its earliest wristwatch, the trendsetting Chronograph I, in the black carbide-coated titanium case of the 1919 Globetimer UTC All Black Edition. The watch’s dual-time mechanics are derived from the handling of a double-clutch Porsche transmission: with each press of its chronograph-like pushers, the central 12-hour hand moves in one-hour increments to change the local time while the UTC hand and minute hand remain unaffected. The “+” pusher advances the hand clockwise while the “-” button sends it in the opposite direction, and a circular window at 9 o’clock serves as a day-night indicator that helps ensure the local time is set properly for AM or PM. Behind a specially engraved caseback displaying the 24 world time zones, ticks the automatic Porsche Design Werk 04.110 caliber, with a second-time-zone module developed exclusively for Porsche Design by the specialists at Dubois Dépraz, More details and images here.

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