Introduced in 2004, the 1884 World Time Watch is an exceptional edition of 120 watches, equipped with an ingenious universal-time mechanism as a special tribute to Sir Stanford Fleming, who was the driving force behind the introduction of a world time system.
This exceptional edition commemorates the 120th anniversary of the “Prime Meridian Conference”, which accepted the system of 24 time zones invented by Sir Sandford Fleming.
In 1876 Sanford Fleming was sitting on a railway station bench in the little Irish town of Bandoran. He had missed his train. Instead of leaving at 5.30 in the evening as the timetable showed, his train had in fact left at 5.30 in the morning. Now he had to wait for 12 hours.
This misfortune gave Sanford Fleming occasion to think hard. In the 19th century – as is still the case in America today – daytime was counted in two periods of 12 hours instead of using a 24 hour clock. What is more, each country in Europe and each major locality in America had its own time, its own zero meridian and its own observatory.
In 1850 there were 144 time zones between the East and West coast of America which all depended on the position of the sun at noon, i.e. on the solar noon. In Europe, work on the standardisation of time had already begun. In 1848 there was already just one time throughout England which was determined at the Greenwich Observatory where the zero meridian was also fixed. The zero meridian for Switzerland ran through Berne.
The time problems resulting from the advance of industrialisation became increasingly acute. The consequences of the impossibility of determining deadlines, the imprecise introduction of new laws or the inaccurate dating of messages were not the worst. The situation for shipping and the railways was more hazardous. Ships sailing under all kinds of different flags determined their positions according to their national maps. In effect this meant that ships sailing under different flags could not give a warning of dangers.
Finally the railway lines were used by different rail companies. The badly coordinated schedules resulted in many rail accidents. Every train travelled at the time applicable at the place where the rail company had its headquarters. If a traveller had to take trains operated by several companies it was almost impossible for him to determine a precise timetable.
Sanford Fleming did not want to miss his train again. So he suggested that the world should be divided into 24 meridians, i.e. 1 meridian for every 15 degrees of longitude separated by time zones. Greenwich meridian was to be taken as the global zero. The date change was to occur on one of the meridians and the hours of the day were to be counted from 1 to 24.
In October 1884 Fleming managed to arrange for the “Prime Meridian Conference” to be convened in Washington. After three weeks of negotiation, his model was approved in principle by the 24 nations present. The date line was to cross the Pacific exactly opposite the zero meridian because no nation had to be “divided” here.
The conference left the French discontented because they were unable to gain acceptance for their own model and also ended with the humbling of Sanford Fleming. Today, however, they have both won because since 1926 time has been determined in Paris by atomic clocks. This Universal Coordinated Time (UCT) instead of the former Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is distributed worldwide from Paris via satellites.
The time system designed by Sanford Fleming was based on a unified notion, i.e. that of the time running through the zero meridian. He imagined that local time would always be determined with reference to GMT. A clock would have to display GMT plus or minus the hours difference for the local time zone and then the minutes.
With his “1884” model, Svend Andersen and his team has designed a watch that reproduces Fleming’s world time concept. The dial represents an image of Fleming’s model. In the centre, a world map showing the meridians together with a dot marking Washington, the conference city, and Greenwich, the origin of the zero meridian. The ring around the globe shows the 24 hours. When this ring is rotated it always indicates the current local time for the cities or time zones on the outer ring. Through the back of the watch, a historical automatic movement can be admired together with the engraved portrait of Fleming.
To mark the 120th anniversary of this conference which made its mark on our daily lives, Andersen Genève made 120 individually numbered watches. They are obtainable with cases in red gold, white gold or platinum. The «1884» is just one of several world time watches which Andersen Genève has already made, including his Christophorus Columbus” in 1992.
Model: Anderesen Geneve 1884 World Time Watch
50 watches with a red gold case
50 watches with a white gold case
20 watches with a platinum case
Automatic, extra-flat universal time module
Portrait and name of Sir Sandford Fleming engraved on the rotor
Hours, minutes, 24 time zones, day/night indicator
750 (18C) red gold, 750 (18C) white gold, or platinum
Individual number and commemorative engraving
Sapphire crystal and back
World map and 24 time zones
Hand-sewn, brown crocodile leather