For jet-setters and watch aficionados alike, a world time complication may just be the perfect travel companion when hopping time zones. Indeed, world time watches have followed countless adventurers in their journeys for over 100 years.
In the present-day, there’s a deluge of world time options from which to pick. Many watch brands keep the time-tested formula unchaged, while others venture out of tradition via complication and design.
On this page you will find our favorite world time watches, as well as a look at the beginnings of this captivating complication. Towards the bottom, you’ll also find an additional list of world time options categorized by price:
You can use the links above to jump around, or continue scrolling to read through our complete resource.
Best World Time Watches
- Patek Philippe World Time Ref. 5110J-001
- Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time Ref. 7700V/110A-B172
- IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph Ref. IW395001
- Nomos Zürich Weltzeit Nachtblau Ref. 807
- Girard-Perregaux 1966 WW.TC Ref. 49557-11-132-11A
Evidenced by the varied names composing our list, the world time complication can be considered a hallmark of established watch brands.
In spite of their differences, the fact that so many brands offer a world timer model speaks to its popularity. At the same time, this high demand highlights the practicality of the function itself, even in the digital age.
The hyperlinks above can be used to jump directly to one of our world timer highlights. Alternatively, keep scrolling to peek back into the earliest days of the world time watch.
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History Of The World Time Complication
It was in the late 1800s that, with the advent of global travel and commerce, pocketwatches with world time functions would first appear. Like many times before, necessity had once more led to the invention of mechanisms for tracking time in distant places.
Yet the earliest examples were convoluted and all-around inefficient at achieving the goal – that of quickly providing an operator with the exact time in a different time zone.
Louis Cottier’s World Time Function
It wasn’t until the 1930s that a relatively unknown Swiss watchmaker would engineer a horological mechanism that serves as the foundation for even the most modern of world time watches. The man was Louis Cottier, and from the back room of his wife’s stationery store in Carouge, Switzerland, he devised an ingenious time display.
More specifically, he coupled the rotations of the center hour hand with a ring on the dial. With the clockwise sweep of the hour hand, the inner dial ring would likewise rotate, albeit at half the speed and in a counter-clockwise direction. As a result, every two full rotations of the hour hand meant one full cycle of the inner ring.
The third and final element, a static outer ring on the dial, recorded each reference city in the 24 time zones of the world. At the time, the only inconvenience was posed by this fixed ring, as it had to be adjusted by a watchmaker if the “local” reference city, which was always at 12 o’clock, had to be changed.
Simple and practical, Cottier’s complication would first be commissioned by Vacheron Constantin in 1932 for one of their pocketwatches. Only 5 years later, Patek Philippe would likewise enlist the watchmaker’s genius to produce the first ever world time watch, the Patek Philippe reference 515 HU.
The Modern World Time Complication Is Born
The previously mentioned limitation of a static reference ring would soon be tackled. First, by transferring it to a bidirectional bezel on the outside of the case for manual adjustment. And later, by Cottier himself in 1953, through the use of a second crown that would actuate the outer dial ring both forwards and backwards. This second workaround is essentially the concept upon which modern world timers are built.
Though the reference cities to be printed on world timer dials would see constant changes throughout history, Cottier’s mechanism has remained largely unchanged. Even throughout the past 2 decades, world time watches have served as a sign of their times by which specific reference cities they carry on their dials.
Best World Time Watches
1. Patek Philippe World Time 5110J-001
It’s only appropriate for the manufacturer of the first world time wristwatch to sit at the top of our list. It’s equally fitting that it be the World Time 5110J, given that it’s one of Paul Anthony‘s latest acquisitions.
Nonetheless, the 5110J is an outstanding world time watch in its own right, without needing the praises of biased authors.
The watch boasts a 37mm case in yellow gold which imparts a traditional and elegant profile. It also calls back to the precious metal construction of Cottier’s original 515 HU.
The movement inside, a refined automatic micro-rotor caliber, ensures the slim character is undisturbed. In like manner, it provides simple zone-changing functionality at the press of a button.
The dial, presented in silver, boasts an intricately detailed guilloché with applied yellow gold indices. Surrounding the inner dial are a two-tone 24-hour ring, as well as the referencity city outer segment.
As far as world timers go, this is as clean as it gets. And it’s this same flawless simplicity that makes this World Time 5110J an eternal benchmark for world timers to come.
- Brand – Patek Philippe
- Model – World Time 5110J-001
- MSRP – $29,200 (Discontinued)
2. Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time 7700V/110A-B172
As you may have learned after reading our brief historical recap, Vacheron Constantin is the second watch brand eternally linked with classic world time complications, and one which we could not omit.
However, the number 2 spot on our list of the best is held by a world time watch with more contemporary styling. It is Vacheron’s most recent Overseas model line, further enhanced by a world time function.
The Overseas model has brought Vacheron abundant success in the steel sports watch category. In this instance, they’ve chosen to elevate an already accomplished platform to new heights.
The Overseas World Time is 43.5mm in stainless steel with an integrated bracelet/strap and mostly blue dial. The latter is imprinted with a total of 37 different time zones, as it includes even those with 30-minute time differences. Finally, at it’s heart, the dial also possesses a sophisticated world map which fully cements the essence of the timepiece as one intended for travel.
With this world time Overseas model, Vacheron Constantin proves that they’ve not forgotten their heritage. They’re also able to exhibit how their past can be modernized, and still make for quite a seductive timepiece.
- Brand – Vacheron Constantin
- Model – Overseas World Time (See on Vacheron’s Site.)
- MSRP – $36,500
3. IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph IW395001
IWC‘s extensive history with pilot’s watches makes it a perfect candidate to conceive another travel-themed timepiece. They’ve done so perfectly with their Pilot’s Timezoner Chrono.
With the Timezoner, IWC has evolved the world time watch with additional complications, as well as with an innovative actuation mechanism. Unlike most pusher-activated world timers out there, this IWC pilot’s time zone indication is changed by rotating the bezel itself. Correspondingly, the hour hand moves to correctly display the time in the time zone “selected” at 12 o’clock.
In addition to the innovative world time, the watch’s functionality includes a chronograph, date, and individual AM/PM indicator at center. We’re not sure there’s any additional complications a globetrotter may need that aren’t already included here.
Not to be overlooked on this IWC Timezoner are…well… the looks! The dull hue of the brushed steel case pairs beautifully with the black dial and ceramic bezel, giving the watch an overall attractive “tool watch” look and feel.
- Brand – IWC
- Model – Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph (See on IWC’s Site.)
- MSRP – $11,900
4. Nomos Zürich Midnight Blue Ref. 807
With their Zürich Weltzeit Nachtblau, Nomos has proven that their minimalist watch designs can infuse with the overwhelming nature of a world timer dial to produce a beautiful timepiece.
The deep blue dial of the Nomos Zürich may be what first drew us to this world timer. Yet, at a closer look, there is much more detail here that may not be appreciated with a single pass.
The dial is multi-layered, and boasts a “channel” where the reference cities are imprinted in silver. This simple feature adds true depth and complexity to an otherwise
The case, presented in polished steel, boasts protruding lugs onto which a shell cordovan leather strap is attached. Additionally, when turned over, one is also able to appreciate Nomos’ manufacture movement, a contemporary interpretation of traditional Glashutte watchmaking.
As far as functionality, Nomos has made it truly easy to record a “home time” (at 3 o’clock) while also providing the ability to visit other time zones. All it takes is the push of a button, and the hour hand at center rotates along with the reference city disc, displaying the exact time in the time zone indicated at 12 o’clock.
- Brand – Nomos
- Model – Nomos Zürich World Time Midnight Blue (See on Nomos’ Site.)
- MSRP – $6,100
5. Girard-Perregaux 1966 WW.TC Ref. 49557-11-132-11A
Girard-Perregaux‘s WW.TC watches have long stood as a trademark of the world time complication. The watch’s memorable look of a world time coupled with a chronograph is undoubtedly burned into the minds of watch collectors the world over.
With their 2018 release, the 1966 WW.TC, GP has pared back on the intracices of the chronograph complication and concentrated on executing the essentials perfectly. The result is a sterile world time watch that packs a lot of elegance and class.
The case is constructed of steel with a silver dial. Unlike its ancestors, the dial here is rather sterile, yet charmingly so. The reference cities are cleanly printed in an adequate font, while the center dial possesses thin hour indices and a recessed small seconds register. As is expected, there is also a 24-hour dial disc present in white and black denoting day and nighttime.
Attached to the case is a 9-link bracelet which further elevates the regal nature of this WW.TC. Its innumerable articulations offer different facets for light to bounce off, imparting a shimmer as that of jewelry.
The final component, its in-house GP caliber, ensures watch buyers will have a hard time passing up a world time watch of this quality and pedigree.
- Brand – Girard-Perregaux
- Model – 1966 WW.TC (See on GP’ Site.)
- MSRP – $13,000
World Time Watches By Price Point
Prices listed are the Manufacturer’s retail price unless otherwise noted.
World Time Watches Under $10,000
- Zenith Pilot Doublematic 03.2400.4046 – <$10,000 (Pre-Owned)
- Breitling Transocean Unitime Chronograph AB0510U9/C879 – <$7,000 (Gray Market)
- Montblanc Orbis Terrarium World Time 115071 – ~$3,900 (Gray Market)
World Time Watches Under $5,000
- Breitling Galactic Unitime Automatic WB3510U4 – <$5,000 (Pre-Owned)
- Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture FC-718WM4H6 – $3,995
- Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Worldtimer MP6008-SS002 – ~$4,600 (Pre-Owned)
World Time Watches Under $2,000
- Christopher Ward C8 UTC Worldtimer C8-44-GM-KVK-C-B – $1,535
- Tissot Heritage Navigator Automatic World Timer T078.641.16.037.00 – <$2,000 (Pre-Owned)
- Christopher Ward C1 Grand Malvern Worldtime C01-43AWT2-S00W0-CB – $1,485
World Time Watches Under $1,000
- Hamilton Khaki Aviation Worldtimer Chrono Quartz H76714335 – <$1,000 (Pre-Owned)
- Oris Artelier Worldtimer 01 690 7581 4051-07 5 22 48 – <$1,000 (Pre-Owned)
- Frederique Constant Worldtimer FC255X6B4 – <$1,000 (Pre-Owned)
More Watch Guides & Articles
If you enjoyed our selections of the top world time watches, as well as our recap on this historic complication’s past, make sure to check out our other watch articles below:
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"I had always considered world time watches to be too "busy" or complicated. Learning about their history and seeing these espectacular examples has given me a whole new appreciation for them."Rating: 5.0★★★★★