Patek Philippe has been producing some of the world’s most coveted world time watches for nearly 80 years. At this year’s Baselworld, however, the brand announced that it is retiring all existing references in its so-called Heure Universelle collection and launching a new, upgraded model in their place: the Patek Philippe Ref. 5230 World Time.
Patek says that the decision to introduce a new world-timer (and discontinue production of its legacy models) was motivated by, primarily, political and cultural changes worldwide that have necessitated updates to the original timepiece’s 24-hour city ring. Dubai, for example, has replaced Riyadh as the internationally recognized representative city of its time zone, and Moscow, which for many years had been located in the “UTC+4” zone, recently shifted to “UTC+3,” nearer to Western Europe, as its chosen time zone. The new Ref. 5230, available in both 18k white gold and 5N rose gold cases, now has a “globally valid” world-time city ring that accurately reflects the modern state of time zones across the world.
The company also took the opportunity to do some subtle but significant reworking on the World Time watch’s case, dial, and hands. Ref. 5230 retains the iconic Patek Philippe Calatrava case (measuring 38.5 mm in diameter and 10.23 mm thick), but with new winglet-style lugs and a more narrow, smoothly polished bezel. The hands will be more noticeably different to a Patek aficionado: instead of the ringed hour hand and Dauphine minute hand on previous references, the watch has a pierced hour hand in the shape of the Southern Cross constellation and a lozenge-shaped minute hand, both with sharp center ridges between lapped, beveled flanks. The hands, and the applied baton hour markers, are crafted from the same gold as the case.
At the center of the dial is another decorative element new to Patek Philippe’s World Time watches. Whereas previous models were renowned for their polychrome cloisonné enamel world map motifs, Ref. 5230 features a black, hand-guillochéd, filigreed basket-weave pattern inspired by a historical pocketwatch on display at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. The dial pattern was created on a nearly 100-year-old, meticulously maintained rose engine at the Patek Philippe manufacture.
The Patek Philippe World Time Ref. 5230 remains an ideal timepiece for international travelers, who can use it to keep track of all 24 time zones at a glance. The local time, denoted by the central hour and minute hands, lines up with the time zone of the city aligned with the small red arrow above 12 o’clock. Pressing the pusher at 10 o’clock rotates the city disk and the 24-hour ring (divided into black and white segments representing daytime and nighttime as well as a sun and moon) counterclockwise and the hour hand in one-hour increments. During this process, the time-zone mechanism is uncoupled from the movement so that the accurate progression of the minute hand and the amplitude of the balance remain unaffected and the time, in all time zones, is precisely displayed.
The movement, visible through a clear sapphire caseback, is Patek Philippe’s in-house Caliber 240 HU (below). It is only 3.88 mm thick, thanks in large part to its micro-rotor design, patented in 1977, which enables the watchmakers to greatly reduce the size of the winding rotor — made of 22k gold and engraved with Patek’s Calatrava Cross emblem — and integrate it at the level of the bridges. The movement includes the patented Spiromax balance spring and amasses a power reserve of at least 48 hours. With a tolerance of -3 to +2 seconds per day, its rate accuracy exceeds all customary chronometer standards. Of course, the movement’s haute horlogerie finishes all meet the stringent standards of the brand’s in-house certification, the Patek Philippe Seal. The bridges are chamfered and decorated with Geneva waves, a motif that also appears on the microrotor. The mainplate is hand-decorated with perlage, and the golden brass wheels are countersunk and have chamfered spokes. The rhodiumed bridges have gold-filled movement engravings and the movement’s total 239 parts include 35 ruby jewels, 10 of which are on display from the back.
Both versions of the new Patek Philippe World Time watch — technically, the white-gold model is Ref. 5230G and the rose gold model is Ref. 5230R — come on hand-stitched alligator leather straps (black for the white-gold watch, chocolate brown for the rose-gold) with case-matching Calatrava fold-over clasps. Both are priced at $73,712. Scroll down below to see some shots we snapped of the new watch at its introduction at Baselworld 2016.