Introduced in 2008, this World Time watch (Ref. 5131, Yellow gold) from Patek Philippe houses an extremely useful technical complication that offers permanent display of all 24 time zones around the globe.
Easily adjustable, the World Time watch indicates the hour in all major cities at a glance. The local time indicated by the hour and minute hands applies to the location on the city disk that is directly aligned with 12 o’clock.
The crown is used to set the correct time in conjunction with the 24-hour ring, so a distinction can be made between 4 am and 4 pm. Now, switching from one time zone to another is accomplished simply by pressing the button at 10 o’clock. Every time it is pressed, the hour hand will advance by one hour while the city ring and the 24-hour ring will rotate counterclockwise by one hour (equivalent to one time zone). Pressing the button 24 times emulates a trip around the world and a return to the point of departure.
This mechanism was devised by the gifted Geneva watchmaker Louis Cottier in the early 1930s. He offered his invention to Patek Philippe first and in 1959, the company protected it with Swiss Patent No. 340 191. Subsequently, the ingenious inventor created another mechanism for the Geneva based manufacture. It was able to display two time zones simultaneously. In the late 1990s, this second invention inspired the development of the Calatrava Travel Time.
With a solution patented in 1999, Patek Philippe further optimized the caliber 240 HU (Heure Universelle = World Time) movement by totally isolating the World Time mechanism with the city and 24-hour rings from the going train of the watch. Thus, when the mechanism is switched from one time zone to the next, the accuracy of the movement and the progression of the minute hand are not affected.
Caliber 240 HU is an ultra-thin self-winding mechanical movement that features a 22K gold mini-rotor recessed in the plate. It beats with a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations perhour (3 Hz). In 2000, Patek Philippe used this movement to reintroduce the World Time watch into its standard collection.
The exclusivity of these complications is no doubt the principal reason why Patek Philippe’s 1940s and 1950s World Time watches fetch higher prices at international auctions than any other wristwatches. Models showcasing a small, hand-made cloisonné enamel miniature in the center of the dial are particularly coveted.
The eclectic motifs range from clusters of palm trees to solitary lighthouses, but the most popular ones are colorful, stylized world maps because they best match the purpose of the timepiece. Such a map also adorns the dial of the new Patek Philippe Ref. 5131, finally giving collectors the renewed opportunity to find a watch in this category within the company’s current portfolio.Due to the complex processes involved in the making of cloisonné enamel dials, only a small number of Ref. 5131 watches will be available each year.
In addition to Geneva enamel and champlevé enamel, cloisonné enamel is one of the three classic techniques traditionally used to decorate watches and dials. The motifs are always silhouettes whose contours define the shapes of the “cloisons” (French for partition, or cell) that ultimately contain the differently colored zones of the finished enamel opus.
A characteristic shared by all enamelling techniques is the stunning brilliance of the colors: unlike paintings that use conventional pigments, they do not fade and retain their luster for centuries.
Model: World Time watch – Ref. 5131 in 18K yellow gold
Caliber 240 HU
Self-winding mechanical movement, display of 24 time zones, day/night indicator
Diameter: 27.50 mm
Height: 3.88 mm
Number of parts: 239
Number of jewels: 33
Power reserve: Max. 48 hours
Winding rotor: Mini-rotor in 22K gold, unidirectional winding
Frequency: 21,600 semi-oscillations/hour (3 Hz)
Balance spring: Flat
Balance spring stud: Movable
Two-position crown:- Pulled out: to set the time- Pushed in: to wind the watch Time zone correction button at 10 o’clock: Synchronized clockwise advance of the hour hand in one-hour increments and counterclockwise rotation of the city and 24-hour disks in 15° increments. This correction takes place with out affecting the rate of the movement or the progression of the minute hand (Patent No. 99124527.5 dated December 9, 1999).
Hours and minutes
24-hour disk with day/night indication by color and sun/moon symbols
18K yellow gold with engraved Patek Philippe signature at 12 o’clock and Genève at 6 o’clock
Screwed back in 18K yellow gold with sapphire-crystal window
Water-resistant to 30 meters
Dimensions: Diameter: 39.50 mm, Height: 10.61 mm, Width between lugs: 21 mm
18K yellow gold, center of dial with world map in hand-crafted cloisonné enamel
– Black printed city disk with new italic face
– 24-hour disk with day/night indication by color and sun/moon symbols (blue day numerals on silvery background, white night numerals on blue background)
Hands: Ring-shaped hour hand in 18K yellow gold, Dauphine minute hand in 18K yellow gold
Alligator with rectangular scales, hand-stitched, matt chocolate, fold-over clasp in 18K yellow gold