What are common analog world time watches?


In modern times, you can download apps in your smart phones to show time anywhere in world. This is somewhat negated the necessity of having a traditional watch which can show times in multiple zones around the world. But don’t ever think that such watchmakers are losing money! A lot of people still prefer elegant and prestigious looking of branded watches on their wrists! In this post, I shall list some very common world time analog watches. Typical characteristics of world time watches:

  1. Should be able to show at least dual times at once.
  2. Seeing time for any time zone should not be overly complex.
  3. There should be a mechanism to swap primary and secondary time quickly.
  4. Should be able to cater for all time zones (including half hour GMT offsets like India – which is GMT+5:30)
  5. Accurate (should be radio controlled or able to pick signal up via GPS – not all watches have these facilities)
  6. Solar powered is preferred so that you don’t have to change battery.
  7. Affordable (you should not have to sell your kidney to buy one)

We shall see in this post how difficult it is to achieve all those parameters within budget. Please bear in mind that there are probably over hundred models of such analog world time watches. Some of them are very expensive. Not all of them offer half hour GMT offset. A quick way to figure that out is to look at dials and see if Delhi is featured. It should feature between Karachi and Dhaka. If Delhi is missing, that means the watch cannot show half hour GMT offsets! This means, in those watches, the minute hand for second time will be always synchronized with primary time. Even some very expensive watches have these problem! Some watches can only show GMT/UTC as a second time. You can’t set second time zone as any city in the world. Ok, enough talking, now let’s see some watches. Note: Prices shown are RRP on July 2014. Specific models may be retired anytime although other models in same series usually available in market for a long time. If you can find deals, often you can buy them at cheaper prices. The list is not in any particular order.  

Citizen eco-drive World Time AT 9010-52L [£379] w01   This is a typical world time watches. It does feature Delhi so covers all time zones. The smaller dial shows secondary time in 24-hr format (this is common for many of such watches).  The main dial shows time in 12-hr format but a separate dial (at upper left) indicates whether it is AM/PM via a 24-hr needle. The watch allows you to check time at any shown city by pressing couple of buttons. It also allows to swap primary and secondary cities by pressing 2 buttons at once.

Seiko Astron SAST003 [£1995] w02 This watch picks up GPS signal (as long as it can see sky) and automatically adjusts the time! This one is solar powered too. Mind that, there is a difference between radio controlled time and GPS controlled. Radio signals are emitted from only few places (typically USA, Germany, Japan etc.) and from the world and watch needs to be within 1500 km of that zone. However, a GPS signal can be picked from anywhere in the world – as long as access to sky is available. All satellites have atomic clocks in them – the signal that is picked up by this watch. So, in theory, this watch never needs time adjustment.

 Casio Edifice EQS-500DB-1A2 [£226]

w03 This one is also solar powered.  

Patek Phillippe 5110 Worldtime [£18000]

025110ORROSE Yes, you read the price right! More of a glamor statement than utility watch. The clever design here is at middle ring, which rotates counter clockwise. In the above image, the home time is Paris (indicated by Paris being at 12 o’clock position. The time at home is 10:09. As per dial, it is 12:09 at Moscow and 00:09 at Anchorage. Note that, this watch can’t show half hour offset zones – in spite of hefty price tag!  

Rolex GMT Master II [£5500]

w05   Another glamorous watch! On a quick glance, it does not feel like it can show world time. In fact, it is just a dual time watch. You can see the main home time screen. The outer bezel rotates manually. The blue hand with triangular pointer  is GMT hand. You can set this hand to show any other city’s time.  But here as well, as you only have an hour hand for dual time, the minutes hand is same for both home and secondary time zone – which in turn means this watch too can’t show half hour GMT offsets. I think now it is fair to say that spending more does not automatically mean having more functionality!

Casio SPF60 [£75] w06   This is also not a true world time watch but a dual time watch. The analog and digital times can be set independently. However, alarm/calendar works only on the basis of digital time. The watch also provides reading for barometer (with last few hours trend), altimeter and a thermometer.

Citizen Eco drive Skyhawk AT [£350]

w07   This watch can show 3 times at once. The main one, GMT/UTC in upper middle and another one for selected city (showing TYO in above image). The home time can be set against any of world’s main cities. In above image, it was set for NYC. However, the GMT/UTC will always show UTC (in 24-hr mode) and you can’t set it to show any other time.

Casio AQ-S810W-1AVEF [£55] w08 Even though you can’t immediately recognize it, this is actually a world time watch! There is only one analog dial though. The second time is displayed digitally (not shown in above image). The digital time can be set for any of world’s main cities. However, you can easily toggle between home (analog) and secondary (digital) time zones. For example, if you set your analog hands for LON and digital for DEL and then you went to Delhi, then you can easily toggle analog hands to show Delhi time and digital one showing London time. This is a solar watch and also available with steel band.

 Nomos Glasute Tangomat GMT [£3100] w09 Another watch which, in spite of high price tag, can’t show true world times. The smaller window shows home/second city but because there is no secondary minute hand, it can’t show half hour GMT offset times. The main dial shows time for selected city (at 9’o clock position).

Ball World time GM2020D-LCJ-BK [£2400] w10 Another watch where Delhi is missing!

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony World Time [£26000] w11 This is another status symbol! This has got 37 world time zones (including half hour offsets which are marked in red). You can rotate the city name dials. In the above image, the home town is set for Geneva (because it points to black triangle at traditional 6-o’clock position). You can now read time at any of world’s cities in 24-hr format.

Blancpain Villeret [£9500]

6661-1531-55B

As you can see in the dial, this one can show half hour GMT offsets. This is an automatic watch with 8 days of power reserve.   There are many other similar watches at varying price range. By now you must have got some good idea of what to look at world time watches. My advice: For functional and affordable watches, stick with Casio, Citizen or Seiko. For glamor statements, buy whatever your bank balance permits.

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