The Patek Philippe World Time (Heure Universelle) watch is one of the most popular complicated wristwatches from the Geneva based watch manufacture since its inception in 1930s. It continued to enthral the watch connoisseurs with its many variations for more than 80 years. This year, at Baselworld watch fair, the manufacture presents the new World Time watch Ref.5230, which is replacing all previous models.
It may seem simple to divide the planet into 24 time zones with 15 degrees of longitude each, but the political process behind it is convoluted. Some time zones have meanwhile been assigned different city names, for instance Dubai instead of Riyadh or Brisbane instead of Noumea, to mention only two. Formerly, Moscow was located in the UTC+4 zone, but the Russian capital has now shifted one hour closer to Western Europe, “relocating” to UTC+3. From time to time, such changes make it necessary to modify the place names on the city scales of World Time watches. This is why Patek Philippe is discontinuing the production of its legacy World Time watches and launching the new Ref. 5230 with the updated, globally valid city names.
For Patek Philippe, this was also an ideal cue for reworking the appearance of the World Time watch, subtly retouching details to give it a truly contemporary and distinctive personality. As regards the Calatrava case of the new Ref. 5230 in white or rose gold 5N, changes were applied among others to the winglet-style lugs and the narrow, smoothly polished bezel that attractively sets the watch apart from its predecessors. The hand shapes have been given a new look as well: Instead of the venerable ringed hour hand and Dauphine minute hand, the Ref. 5230 now sports a pierced hour hand with a silhouette that evokes the famous “Southern Cross” constellation, and the minute hand features a lozenge-shaped contour. Both hands have a sharp center ridge between the carefully lapped, beveled flanks. Like the applied baton hour markers, they are crafted from 18K white or rose gold 5N to match the case.
Patek Philippe World Time watches decorated with polychrome cloisonné enamel maps on their dials are nothing short of legendary. The centers of other World Time watches feature hand-guilloched decors, like the black dial center of the new Ref. 5230 with its filigreed woven pattern. The inspiration for this guilloched basket weave motif was taken from a precious pocket watch on display at the Patek Philippe Museum, except that its guilloché was originally coated with blue flinqué enamel. Patek Philippe still masters these nearly extinct handcrafts because the manufacture carefully preserves the required skills and know-how and assures that they are handed down from one generation to the next. This also applies to the equipment. For example, the manually controlled rose engine needed to guilloche dials is almost one hundred years old. But it has been constantly serviced and works as reliably today as when it was first commissioned.
Patek Philippe World Time watches show all 24 world time zones at a glance. The local time is most prominently displayed for the time zone whose assigned city name is just above the small red arrow at 12 o’clock – in the classic manner with the hour and minute hands. In the other 23 zones, the times are directly readable on the 24-hour ring that rotates counter clockwise within the city disk. The minutes indicated by the minute hand are the same for all time zones.
When traveling into a different time zone, the pusher in the case at 10 o’clock is pressed as often as needed to align the respective city name with the red arrow at 12 o’clock. Each time the pusher is pressed, the hour hand will advance by one hour while the city disk and the 24-hour ring will move by one increment in the counter clockwise direction. 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. Consequently, the time in all 24 zones is always displayed with the precision specified by the directives of the Patek Philippe Seal.
The precise rate of the watch and the user-friendliness of the World Time functions are guaranteed by the Patek Philippe manufacture caliber 240 HU – an ultra-thin self-winding mechanical movement. Despite its elaborate time-zone automatic winding mechanisms, it is a mere 3.88 mm thick, ideal for a slender, elegant World Time watch. Thanks to a design patented in 1977, the size of the winding rotor was massively reduced, allowing it to be fully integrated into the level of the movement bridges.
Even though it is so compact, the rotor can still generate ample winding power because it is crafted from solid 22K gold to increase its mass and torque. In the course of the years, the movement was continually optimized and paired with a World Time mechanism. It is decidedly modern, as evidenced by its patented Spiromax® balance spring. It has a power reserve of at least 48 hours, and with a tolerance of -3 to +2 seconds per day, its rate accuracy exceeds all customary chronometer standards. The finissage of the watch fully complies with all requirements of the Patek Philippe Seal.
The bridges are chamfered and decorated with Geneva striping. The gold mini-rotor has the same striping alongside an engraving of the Calatrava cross, the manufacture’s emblem. The plate is hand-decorated with perlage, and the golden brass wheels are countersunk and have chamfered spokes. These accents are complemented with the gold-filled movement engravings on the rhodiumed bridges and the sparkling highlights of 10 of the 35 ruby jewels. With the new Patek Philippe World Time watch Ref. 5230, the beautiful craftsmanship can be admired through the sapphire-crystal case back.
The new Ref.5230 replaces all previous models of the manufacture’s World Time range and is available in two versions: as the Ref. 5230R in 18K rose gold and as the Ref. 5230G in 18K white gold. Both have the same dial with a white city disk, a 24-hour ring with day/night color segments and sun/moon symbols, as well as a black center with an elaborate, hand-guilloched basket weave pattern.
The only differences are the applied hour markers and the hands, which are made of the same 18K gold as the case. Both versions are worn on a hand-stitched alligator strap with large square scales and a Calatrava fold-over clasp. The strap is shiny black with an 18K white-gold clasp for the white gold model and shiny chocolate brown with an 18K rose-gold clasp for the rose-gold model.
Ref. 5230 World Time watch
Caliber 240 HU
Self-winding mechanical movement, display of 24 time zones, day/night indication
Diameter: 27.50 mm
Height: 3.88 mm
Number of parts: 239
Number of jewels: 33
Power reserve: Min. 48 hours
Centrifugal mass: 22K gold minirotor, unidirectionally winding
Frequency: 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour (3 Hz)
Balance spring: Spiromax®
Balance spring stud: Adjustable
– Pulled out: To set the time
– Pushed in: To wind the watch
Local time selector: Pusher at 10 o’clock
Synchronized adjustment of displays in one-hour steps for the hour hand and 1/24th counter clockwise increments for the city disk and the 24-hour ring
Patek Philippe Seal
Local time in hours and minutes
City disk with 24 place names
24-hour ring with day/night indication in colors and sun/moon symbols
18K white or rose gold 5N
Sapphire-crystal case back
Water resistant to 30 meters (3 bar)
Case dimensions: Diameter: 38.50 mm
Length (across lugs): 46.91 mm
Width (9 to 3 o’clock incl. crown): 41.45 mm
Thickness (crystal to display back): 10.23 mm
Width between lugs: 20 mm
– City disk printed black
– 24-hour ring with day/night indication in color and sun/moon symbols (day: black numerals on silvery background; night: white numerals on black background)
– Center hand-guilloched with basket weave pattern
Hour hand with “Southern Cross” constellation motif, pierced, lapped flanks, in 18K white or rose gold 5NLozenge-shaped minute hand with lapped flanks, in 18K white or rose gold 5N Applied baton hour markers in 18K white or rose gold 5N
Hand-stitched alligator with large square scales
Shiny black with Calatrava fold-over clasp in 18K white gold for the white-gold model Shiny chocolate brown with Calatrava fold-over clasp in 18K rose gold 5N for the rose-gold model