Predictions In The Travel Time Category Of The 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve
by Ian Skellern
Welcome to the 2016 edition of Quill & Pad’s early Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève predictions in which the team picks favorites and explains why. Please enjoy the opinions of the following panelists:
Ian Skellern (IS), co-founder and technical director
Joshua Munchow (JM), resident nerd writer
GaryG (GG), resident collector
Martin Green (MG), resident gentleman
Ryan Schmidt (RS), author of The Wristwatch Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Mechanical Wristwatches and contributor
As a jury member, editor-in-chief Elizabeth Doerr is excluded from these early predictions.
The Travel Time category is defined by the GPHG as, “Mechanical watches displaying several time zones (e.g., world time, dual time, or other model types). Additional indications and/or complications are admissible.”
JM: Alas, this category has provided no relief from the difficult decisions of prior categories. All of the watches in the category are strong contenders, especially as they represent two distinctly different styles of travel timekeepers: world timers and second time zones.
Comparing the two is difficult as they both represent different time solutions for different problems. If you are an international business person or have connections around the globe that you talk to on a regular basis, a world time watch is what you want.
If you have relatives in one other time zone or you regularly travel to another city across the country (or the globe), then a second time zone will clearly give you the information required at a quick glance. These watches fill different purposes, so if we must group them, we need to look beyond their intended functions and at how well they solve the problem of telling time in different places easily. That helps us on our way to this difficult decision of picking a winner.
IS: The first reaction I had when first seeing the six preselected Travel Time watches was that they are indeed all travel time watches: i.e., they all display two or more time zones, but they are split in double or triple time zone displays and world time indications.
The difference is that with a dual time watch, you have displays for two time zones, usually home time and local time. A world time display allows you to see and calculate the time all over the world, rather than just one region.
RS: As a frequent traveler, but also as someone who has lived in the UK and US with something important on the other side of the Atlantic – like a boss or a mother – I have a soft spot for dual timers and world timers. I was already looking forward to this category and on closer inspection I have enjoyed the options this year. Although one or two of them are very much pre-2016 watches dressed in 2016 clothing.
IS: While the majority of dual time zone (aka GMT) watches display just the hour of the second time zone, the Manufacture Royale 1770 Haute Voltige has a complete subdial for the second time zone displaying both hours and minutes. This enables it to adjust for even those rare time zones that have 30 minutes difference rather than a full hour. And you can set the second time zone via the crown rather than the more common pusher.
But the best thing about the 1770 Haute Voltige is that it looks so good: I particularly like the dial-side balance and escapement.
MG: With its visual impact you could almost forget that the Manufacture Royale 1770 Haute Voltige even has a second time zone, Ian! However, it combines its visual brawn with a beautiful practicality, proving that one doesn’t have to exclude the other.
For more information, please visit www.gphg.org/horlogerie/en/watches/1770-haute-voltige.
Quick Facts Manufacture Royale 1770 Haute Voltige
Case: 45 x 13.8 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber MR07 with extra-large balance wheel and visible escapement
Functions: hours, minutes; second time zone
Price: 33,000 Swiss francs
IS: The “problem” with the Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone is that the dial looks so complicated. While attractive, the cacophony of colors and elements mean that there is so much going on visually that it’s difficult to even tell the time. But if you just give yourself the luxury of a few minutes, order emerges from the kaleidoscopic chaos.
The Escale Time Zone is a world timer, so the 24-hour time zones around the world with city abbreviations are permanently displayed by the outer ring. The local time is by the stubby white hour and minute hands originating in the center. Once you have set the outer ring via the crown so that your nearest city (in your time zone) corresponds to your local time, that’s it. Nothing more to do but read the time anywhere around the world and you even know if it’s day or night.
As well as it’s ease of use, the other good thing about the Escale Time Zone is its size: at 41 mm in diameter and under 10 mm thick, this is a watch that would be easy to wear on any wrist and slip under a cuff.
MG: The Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone is not for everybody, but it will make some people ecstatic! It really shows that the brand is willing to be the non-conformist, yet in a very refined way. The watch combines an avant-garde look with old-school manufacturing methods, becoming the best of both worlds.
RS: Question: What is the difference between this watch and the Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone from last year’s competition? Answer: gold and a category! Yes, last year the exact same watch was a strong entrant in the Men’s category. This year it has a two-tone case.
Look, I love this watch, it’s got huge character; but it’s the same watch. It’s like Leonardo di Caprio winning a 2017 Oscar for the director’s cut of The Revenant.
Further reading: Heraldry, Coats Of Arms, And The Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime.
For more information, please visit www.gphg.org/horlogerie/en/watches/escale-time-zone.
Quick Facts Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone
Case: 39 x 8.4 mm, stainless steel and pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber LV87
Functions: hours, minutes, world time, second time zone
Price: 12,000 Swiss francs
IS: I admire Montblanc for presenting a pocket watch in this category, the first pocket watch the brand has created in its 110-year history. The Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition is another world timer in this category, and I could easily see the pleasure in pulling out this stylish watch at a business meeting. Practically, though, it’s hard to see the advantage over a wristwatch apart from a more legible larger dial.
However, I’m after invention and innovation in this and other categories, and the 4810 Orbis Terrarum Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition just doesn’t offer enough of that compared to some of the competition.
GG: What’s not to love about a big world time pocket watch in a durable steel case with plenty of room on the dial to display the city names – all at a retail price of 8,700 Swiss francs? I was surprised at how much this Montblanc grew on me and I could easily imagine picking one up for myself.
RS: Why not the wristwatch, though, Gary? The pocket watch is pretty, but the wristwatch is more so. Regardless, if I understand it, both the 2015 Orbis, the 2016 4810 Orbis, and this chap all contain the same MB 29.20 movement. It’s lovely, it’s well priced, but it is effectively a re-cased, re-colored 2015 offering.
JM: My second runner-up in the travel time category is something a little different but definitely worth noticing: the Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition. This pocket watch is the best world timer in the competition with indications for all zones including half time zones, the date line, and a miniature painting of the northern hemisphere to correspond to the cities. It provides all the information one would need to keep track of time while traveling around the world. It is simple and clean, easy to read and pick out any location at a glance, and it doesn’t add any extra hands to get confusing.
So why, after all that, is it only my second place and not the winner? It comes down to risk-taking and application. Being a pocket watch means the intended audience is very limited, most people do not want to have a pocket watch to fish out, no matter how cool it is and how well it does the job. People are creatures of convenience and so a wristwatch will usually trump a pocket watch these days.
And finally, the watch is incredible as a world timer, but it is rather safe in design and mechanical implementation. It is complicated, don’t get me wrong, but considering the other contenders in the category and the efforts expended from them, the Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition falls short of first place.
For more information, please visit www.gphg.org/horlogerie/en/watches/4810-orbis-terrarum-pocket-watch-110-years-edition.
Quick Facts Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition
Case: 52 x 18.8 mm, stainless steel, Lépine style, with silver chain and stander
Movement: automatic Caliber MB 29.20
Functions: hours, minutes, world time (24 time zones), day/night indicator
Limitation: 110 pieces
Price: €8,500 / 8,700 Swiss francs
IS: The Bovet 1822 Virtuoso VI Triple Time Zone stands out from the dual time zome competition here in displaying three time zones rather than two. And those three time zones are all displayed very legibly. Local time is indicated by the central serpentine hour and minute hands, while each of the two second time zones are displayed on subdials incorporating day night indicators. The corresponding cities are displayed in windows above the subdials. Discreet pushers set into the case band on either side enable the second time zones to be easily set forward or backwards.
And with the Virtuoso VI Triple Time Zone you get two watches in one because it is double-faced: you have the three time zones on one side and the time and an impressive 7-day power reserve on the other. Bovet’s patented dual-sided seconds ensures that the seconds run clockwise on both faces.
Plus you get the Bovet Amadeo case system that makes it easy to detach the strap and use the watch as a desk clock or pocket watch. For the serious traveller, I can see how three time zones might make a lot of sense.
For more information, please visit www.gphg.org/horlogerie/en/watches/virtuoso-vi-triple-time-zone.
Quick Facts Bovet 1822 Virtuoso VI Triple Time Zone
Case: 43.5 x 16.3 mm, red gold
Movement: manually wound Virtuoso caliber with 168-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve display, second time zone
Limitation: 100 pieces
Price: 67,000 Swiss francs
GG: This was my favorite watch at SIHH this year as reported in our “picks and pans” article (see Collectors Speak: Picks And Pans Of SIHH Week 2016), and despite tough competition from the Fabergé in particular, it takes the top spot for me in this category.
The combination of a world time disk at the center, blued hands showing local time, and a “mysterious” sphere indicating home time is highly intuitive for me. I also very much like the way that the home time sphere switches to a pink gold or blue side depending on whether home time is day or night.
Of course, the use of a spherical indicator is pure De Bethune, harkening back to their splendid spherical moon phase indicators. Finally, I really like that the world time disk can be customized to match the owner’s preference for the number and identity of cities to be shown; after all, why wade through clutter if only a few cities abroad are of interest?
IS: While the De Bethune DB25 World Traveller is my second pick rather than my first, if I was in the market for a travel watch (and my wallet allowed) it would be my choice. The DB25 World Traveller is good-looking, legible, interesting, and technically clever . . . I don’t need any more that that.
I particularly like the small ball (planet earth) that rotates to indicate if it is day or night in its corresponding city, and that the owner can select the cities around the world time dial. There is even the date indicated around the periphery of the dial.
JM: It pains me to put a De Bethune in any position other than a top spot since this particular watch is one of my favorite aesthetic watches in the entire GPHG competition this year. The DB25 World Traveller is an excellent take on a world time watch with the main 24 time zones and certain large cities listed around the dial and indicated by a rotating microsphere that follows the hours of the home time throughout the day.
This microsphere also flips over at 6:00 am and 6:00 pm to indicate day and night, an exceptionally cool tie-in to De Bethune’s moon phase functions on other watches. But as cool as it is, all of the time zone cities are not listed (of course this wasn’t the goal, but it seems incomplete) and so it feels like a mix between a second time zone and a true world timer in a category where others achieved more readable second time zone functions. But dang if I don’t absolutely love this watch!
RS: Between the world time “microsphere” (which amazingly is also a rotating day/night indicator) and the date “claw,” this is probably the most unique world timer since the Greubel Forsey GMT.
Viewed dead-on it’s fantastic, but my concern is with the apparent thickness. I say “apparent” because at 13.7 mm it is not even close to the thickest watch in the competition; but with the open lugs, which are attached to the case back, the watch case appears to stand incredibly tall.
De Bethune intended for the DB25 to stand above the wrist like an instrument, and I don’t disagree, but it arguably also looks a little too much like another sort of instrument that you boil your pasta in.
For more information, please visit www.gphg.org/horlogerie/en/watches/db25-world-traveller.
Quick Facts De Bethune DB25 World Traveller
Case: 45 x 13.7 mm, white gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber DB2547 with five days’ worth of power reserve (twin spring barrels)
Functions: hours, minutes; date, world time (via city disk), day/night indication (three-dimensional sphere), second time zone
Limitation: 12 pieces
Price: 150,000 Swiss francs
IS: I like surprises as long as nobody (especially me) gets hurt, and the Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ (dual time zone) is chock full of surprises. What sets the Visionnaire DTZ above both the De Bethune DB25 World Traveller and Bovet Triple Time Zone is that it is not only good looking, interesting and technically superb, it is also a completely new movement developed exclusively by Agenhor exclusively for this model.
No module or refreshed existing movement, but a world timer developed entirely from scratch.
The surprises start on the clean, highly legible dial with its chunky bold markers and hands. Unless you are viewing the dial from directly above, apart from the case band pusher at 10 o’clock there is nothing to indicate that there is a second time zone display anywhere. It’s only when you deliberately turn the watch so you are looking nearly perpendicularly that the second time zone hour appears to jump out from the center of the dial. It’s there when you need it and remains out of the way when you don’t.
While the dial side is clean and without unnecessary distractions, the movement is more complicated, and beautifully so, and I love the folie of the mechanism that has been transformed into a hidden feeding peacock.
MG: This is a truly unique way of displaying a second time zone, which is not only very practical, but also stunningly beautiful! It also shows the diversity of Fabergé as well as the technical behemoth that Jean-Marc Wiederrecht’s Agenhor is. With this watch, Fabergé transcends its own boundaries as a prominent jewelry brand by bringing an innovative and very masculine watch with a second time zone.
GG: I came very close to picking the Fabergé based on its beautiful design, prominent and novel display of the second time zone at the center of the dial, and visibility of the winding rotor from the front of the watch. For me it’s both a clever and attractive watch.
It only loses out for me by the narrowest of margins due to its large size (even bigger than the De Bethune) and slightly less complex (in my estimation) mechanics.
JM: Considering the excellent competition in this category, it took something special for me to call a watch the winner. The Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ is a watch that has created a unique look and a sweet complication to add a very easy-to-read second time zone, resulting in the best and most indicative travel time watch.
It begins with a movement from the inimitable Agenhor and Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, a perpetual crowd favorite when it comes to incredible and functional complications. A magnified second time zone sits firmly in the center, which resides on the rear of the movement and is viewed through the entire assembly. The home time is displayed with two arms radiating out from a center disk with a geometric engraved pattern. The rest of the dial is sapphire and translucent, allowing an engraved, full round, dial side rotor to spin beneath adding constant movement and a very interesting aesthetic.
The movement is beautiful when viewed from the rear, and mechanical happiness is the definite feeling I get from the design. The overall watch is a wonderful exercise in application and design and makes for an extremely readable and accessible dual time zone watch. As a travel time watch, I think the Visionnaire DTZ represents the best watch in the category designed for its purpose, and even displays the pizzazz that a watch of this caliber and price range deserves.
The only downside to the Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ is that I don’t have one, but I can’t hold that against it!
RS: The moment that Aurélie Picaud joined Fabergé (coming over from Audemars Piguet) and enlisted the fine work of Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of Agenhor, I have been fixated on this brand. Some jewelry houses will forever struggle with their timepieces and others will make an art of them.
I am delighted to see Fabergé come in from the cold and join the latter. The DTZ is my ideal dual timer: it’s highly legible, easy to operate, has a strong identity, and is gorgeous. I recommend you take a look at one of these in the flesh (metal?); when you move the watch about a little, the central aperture appears impossibly deep. It’s like you are staring down a tunnel that actually links you to that second time zone. This is how you do a Cyclops!
Extra bonus points that make the DTZ a clear winner for me are awarded for the subtle dial-side rotor, the visible 24 hour wheel, and the barely visible “peacock” component on the back of the watch.
For more information, please visit www.gphg.org/horlogerie/en/watches/faberge-visionnaire-dtz.
Quick Facts Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ
Case: 43 mm, titanium and pink gold
Movement: Agenhor Caliber AGH 6924 with rotor on front and 50 hours’ worth of power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; second time zone (24-hour jump hour)
Price: $29,500 / 29,500 Swiss francs
Ian: Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ
Martin: Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ
Joshua: Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ
Ryan: Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ
GaryG: De Bethune DB25 World Traveller
And the winner of best “Travel Time” watch 2016 went to the Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ (see Fabergé’s Visionnaire DTZ: A Surprising Way To Display A Second Time Zone and First Look: The Surprising Movement Of The Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ (Dual Time Zone).
For more of our predictions in the 2016 GPHG, please see:
Ladies’ High-Mech Category
Artistic Crafts Category
Mechanical Exception Category
Also published on Medium.