World-time and GMT watches were popular at this year’s watch fairs, and several of the independent haute horlogerie brands that exhibited at SIHH in Geneva for the first time offered some very interesting new takes on these timepieces aimed at world travelers. Here’s a look.
The De Bethune DB25 World Traveler is a world-time watch that shows the home, or reference, time in a most unusual manner: a little sphere travels along a channel marked with 24 hours. The sphere seems to float along on its own power. The local time is shown by the center-mounted hands. The sphere is pink on one side and blue on the other: at 6 pm and 6 am, it flips over to indicate the change from day to night and vice versa. The city disk is set by means of a pusher at 8 o’clock. The local-time hour is set in one-hour increments by pulling the crown out to the second position. The date is shown by a pointer that jumps in one-day increments along the date scale on the periphery of the dial. The pointer is adjusted by a corrector at 10 o’clock.
The movement is Caliber DB2547, De Bethune’s 25th in-house caliber. It has a silicon escape wheel and a titanium balance wheel with white-gold inserts in its rim. The balance wheel and balance spring were designed to minimize the effects of temperature on rate precision. The caseback is transparent; through it you can see the balance, affixed to what De Bethune calls a “Delta” bridge, whose center is decorated with a pattern the brand calls “Côtes De Bethune.” This bridge also supports two barrels, which provide a power reserve of five days. The watch is made of white gold and is 45 mm in diameter. Price: $150,000.
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveller Globe Night Blue is a new version of the company’s Galet Traveller, launched in 2013. Like the original, the new watch shows the second-time-zone hour, in 24-hour format, in a window at 9 o’clock. Its dial is adorned with a convex depiction of the five major continents. The center portion of the dial is made of white gold; the map has been painted in champlevé enamel. Higher elevations are indicated by deeper shades of blue. Gold dust is used to indicate urban areas.
The local time can be adjusted in one-hour increments using two pushers on the left side of the case. The date, shown in an aperture at 3 o’clock, jumps forward or backward automatically as the local hour passes midnight.
The watch has a double direct-impulse natural escapement, which imparts directly to the balance two impulses with each of the balance’s oscillations. This type of escapement, invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet, improves the movement’s efficiency, the company says. The power reserve is 80 hours. The escapement has a silicon lever. The movement also has Laurent Ferrier’s signature gold micro-rotor, with pawl-fitted unidirectional winding. The case is 41 mm in diameter and made of white gold. There are domed sapphire crystals on the front and back. Price: $87,000.
The Kari Voutilainen GMT-6 shows the home or reference time by means of a rotating, 24-hour disk at 6 o’clock. The disk shares its subdial with the watch’s seconds hand. The disk can be moved forward in one-hour increments by pushing the crown.
The company designed and made the movement in-house. The GMT mechanism is integrated within it. According to Voutilainen, the watch’s star feature is its escapement. There are two escape wheels, which provide a direct impulse to the balance through the roller jewel. This escapement is very efficient and requires less energy than traditional lever escapements, the company says. The watch’s power reserve is 65 hours. The balance spring is also noteworthy: on the outside is a Philips overcoil, while the inner end is bent in a Grossmann curve. The balance, which beats at 18,000 vph, is adjusted by means of four gold inertia blocks.
The dial is made of silver and gold with a guilloché finish that has been covered with transparent blue and orange grand feu enamel. The case is platinum and 39 mm in diameter and has a double back; the inner one is transparent and the outer one finished with enameled guilloché. Price: $158,000.