As the old saying goes, travel should broaden the mind. On a recent trip to Tokyo, however, I was struck by how samey the world has become. This isn’t a groundbreaking insight – globalisation isn’t exactly a new thing – but it’s still jarring to witness idiot millennials walking into lamp posts playing Pokémon GO, gaudy Hooters outlets enticing patrons with the promise of chicken and retro 1970s whatever-it-is, andTaylor Swift’s insipid corporate pop lull a generation of unsuspecting girls into thinking it’s OK to be overtly manipulative and fake for the sake of success. OK, rant over.
My conniptions aside, Japan was great and I can confirm that the land of the rising sun hasn’t yet been ruined by augmented reality and hot wings. Additionally, I got to use all three of my world-time watches, so this week I’m in the mood to look at three great GMT/world-time pieces.
The major trend in watchmaking, or at least Swiss watchmaking, is the shift to steel cases, which are markedly cheaper. One of Blancpain’s big launches for the year was the Villeret Quantième Annuel GMT Steel, the first version of this watch to come in a steel case. The standout elements here are the classic design, a signature of the Villeret collection, and the unusual way Blancpain has presented the date, day and month windows. The second time zone is shown on the minimalist subdial. The watch has a 40mm case and comes with a classy black alligator leather strap. The Villeret Quantième Annuel GMT Steel is priced at HK$218,500.
Where the Villeret majors in classic simplicity, the Carl F Bucherer Patravi TravelTec FourX is all about in-your-face complexity. With a name more suited to an SUV than a watch, this new iteration of the Patravi collection is made for the very modern globe-trotter, featuring as it does three time zones. The picture doesn’t do the watch justice, making it look a bit confusing and cluttered, but the three time-zone indicators are easy enough to read. The 46.6mm case also contains a chronograph (which you will almost certainly never use). The four in the name refers to the number of materials – palladium, ceramic, rubber and titanium – that make up the watch. Prices are available upon request.
Lastly, something for people who travel a lot and are looking for a well-made, reliable and affordable mechanical world-time watch. The Alpina Worldtimer Manufacture straight up looks the part, with 24 city time zones and a rotating world-time disc that will match the hour in your desired location by a simple turn of the crown. The 44mm steel case comes with a black crocodile leather strap and power reserve runs to 48 hours. Limited to 8,888 pieces, the Worldtimer Manufacture is priced at HK$27,000.