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Watches: In the Zone

By Kristen Shirley

This story originally appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of Elite Traveler.

You probably have a dual-time watch, and you might have a worldtimer—what else do you need to track time around the globe? If you’re a frequent traveler to India, Australia or even some parts of Canada, whose time zones are offset by 30 or 45 minutes instead of one hour, you’re missing the ability to see that exact time at a glance.

Recently, two independent watchmakers showed pieces featuring independent time zones, elegantly solving this problem. While it’s not a new complication, it is not found in many brands’ collections. These watches have independent gear trains, sometimes even independent barrels, essentially putting two movements with the same winding system inside one watch, allowing you to change minutes, not just hours. If it’s 1am in New York and 10:30am in India, it’s easily visible. Even if you don’t regularly use these offset time zones, you might find a reason to pick one up—a watchmaker told us that a client used one time zone as his perennially late partner’s personal time zone.

Arnold & Son’s design codes, including its dedication to symmetry and impeccable finishing, as well as its skill at skeletonized movements, are on brilliant display in the manual-wind DBG Skeleton. There are two dials of smoky sapphire crystal, each showing a different time zone. The left uses Roman numerals, has open hands and is set with the crown at 9 o’clock,while the right uses Arabic numerals, has closed hands and is set with the crown at 3 o’clock, making the watch very clear to read and
easy to set, with no risk of accidentally setting thewrong time zone.

At 12 o’clock you’ll find a 24-hour dial with an open hand and a closed hand, which can be used to calculate the difference between the time zones, as well as serving as a day/night indicator. There’s also an elegant seconds hand shared by both time zones, because thankfully seconds don’t vary around the world.

This complicated movement was designed and manufactured in-house at its base in La Chaux-de Fonds and is the first time Arnold & Son has used this complication in its modern era. In addition to being very useful, the movement is absolutely beautiful. The dials, gears and balances forma harmonious composition, and the exceptional finishing includes chamfered bridges with polished edges, satin-finished wheels and Côtes de Genève stripes.

Having a similar function is just about the only similarity between the two watches pictured here. Manufacture Royale, known for pushing the envelope with its avant-garde timepieces, takes a different approach to independent time zones with its automatic 1770 Haute Voltige. The main time display is more traditional with large hands, and the second time zone is displayed on a quilted guilloché subdial at 5 o’clock. Both time zones are set through the crown at 3 o’clock. The black sunray guillochémain dial provides a dramatic background to the architectural movement, where sculpted bridges support a raised balance wheel and counter, dominating the display.

Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton in rose gold, limited to 30 pieces, $38,850, available at Cellini Jewelers in New York, contact Joel Block, joel@cellinijewelers.com, +1 212 888 0505, arnoldandson.com Manufacture Royale 1770 Haute Voltige in steel, $36,800, contact Scott Rosen, +1 917 740 7885, manufacture-royale.com