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Patek Philippe World Time - The Iconic Traveller’s Complication

27 June 23

One of the most prized Patek Philippe complications, the World Time function allows the wearer to track all twenty-four time zones at once. Here, we explore a few of the current timepieces.

The World Time is one of Patek Philippe’s most iconic complications. The complication was originally invented in the 1930s by Louis Cottier, and the manufacture created its first World Time watches soon after. Since then, Patek Philippe World Time watches have cemented their place as some of the most aspirational timepieces among watch enthusiasts. The current collection contains a selection of models, each with its own unique character and appeal.

The World Time complication allows the wearer to keep track of all twenty-four time zones simultaneously. Two outer discs are inscribed with the names of cities to represent each time zone. The central hands display the local time of the city at the 12 o’clock position on the dial. Meanwhile, a rotating 24-hour disc keeps track of the other time zones. An ingenious mechanism, patented in 1999, allows the wearer to move all displays forwards in one-hour increments with the press of a single pusher, making it easy to adjust the local time while travelling.

Among the models we are highlighting there are two movements responsible for this impressive functionality. The Caliber 240 HU, and the CH 28-520 HU which integrates the World Time complication with chronograph functions. Each watch displays its movement through a sapphire crystal case back, and each case offers 30m of water-resistance for peace of mind. Despite the amount of information on display, each dial is carefully laid out to prioritise legibility. To this end, decoration is kept to centre of the dial, and the 24-hour rotating disc is split into two colours to indicate day and night, with delicate sun and moon symbols at noon and midnight.

The essence of the Patek Philippe World Time is contained in the Ref. 5230P-001. The Ref. 5230 was first introduced in 2016, and this model interprets this timepiece in platinum. The dial is a deep blue, the 24-hour disc partitioned into white and blue to indicate day/night zones. A hand-guilloché pattern adorns the centre, creating visual interest without crowding the dial. At 38.5mm in diameter, this watch sits neatly on the wrist, completed by a blue calfskin strap.

In 2011 Patek Philippe released a ladies’ World Time model, the Ref. 7130. There are two ladies’ references in the current collection; the Ref. 7130G-016 and Ref. 7130R-014. Considering the complexity of the movement, the 36mm width and 8.83mm height of these models is extraordinary. Produced in either white gold with a grey-blue dial, or in rose gold with an olive-green dial, the dial centres pay tribute to Rare Craftsmanship skills with a fine hand-guilloché basketweave motif. For a touch of fire, each is set with sixty-two diamonds on the bezel, and twenty-seven diamonds on the strap buckle, totalling approximately 1ct.

In an even more impressive feat of haute horlogerie, the next two references we will explore here combine the World Time complication with flyback chronograph functionality. Using Patek Philippe’s first in-house self-winding chronograph movement as its base, the Caliber CH 28-520 HU integrates the World Time mechanism so elegantly that the movement remains slim and compact, a significant challenge. With no running seconds hand, the movement is designed to allow the wearer to keep the chronograph running continuously without damage.

The Ref. 5930P-001 encases this movement in platinum, with a green dial that subtly incorporates the chronograph features into the World Time display. Meanwhile, the Ref. 5935A-001 evokes watchmaking heritage with a rose-gilt opaline dial, given a sporty twist with a modern ‘carbon’ motif engraved into the centre. Adding to the sporty aesthetic, this is the first World Time flyback chronograph to be produced in stainless steel.

Lastly, and arguably the crowning jewel of the World Time collection, the Ref. 5231G-001. This timepiece beautifully demonstrates the long tradition of Patek Philippe World Time watches with Grand Feu cloisonné enamel dials showing a section of the world map. For this 2022 model, Patek Philippe has chosen to pay tribute to South-East Asia and Oceania. To create this spectacular dial, an artisan first outlines the continents in gold wire, before filling them with layers of coloured enamel. The Ref. 5231G-001 presents this dial in a white gold case, completed by an alligator leather strap in navy blue.

The Patek Philippe World Time is a complication that has captured the imagination of countless watch enthusiasts. There is a compelling romanticism to a watch which allows the wearer to contain the world on their wrist. The current collection does this complication justice with exquisite craftsmanship and mechanical excellence. Doubtless it will captivate watch collectors for years and decades to come.

If you would like to explore these references or the wider Patek Philippe collection, we invite you to contact Prestons Wilmslow by telephone, online contact form or by visiting us in-store. One of our Patek Philippe specialists will be on hand to guide you through any enquiry you may have.


Our Showrooms

Over the years, generations of families have become customers of Prestons, and many have gone on to become friends. Today, our teams look forward to welcoming you to our showrooms in Wilmslow and Norwich.

Prestons Guildford


Our Guildford showroom, which is now located on the opposite side of the high street, is designed to reflect the architectural merit of the Edwardian building it now occupies. The store features newly extended spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases, alongside a comfortable lounge to allow our clients to explore our bridal and fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Wilmslow


Located in the heart of Wilmslow, this showroom features a selection of spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases. Of course, the bridal collections Prestons have always been famous for remain a prominent feature of the store and surround the famous Aquarium Bar which sits at its centre. Explore This Showroom

Rolex by Prestons, Leeds


This showroom, located in Victoria Gate, features extensive Rolex showcases alongside a discrete VIP lounge. Every element of the interior design radiates the values of the Rolex crown: excellence, precision and attention to detail from louvre walls in walnut, to the careful calibration of colours and patterns within the fittings and furnishings. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Norwich


Located on the historic Norwich high street, Prestons Norwich has been expanded and redesigned to reflect the character of the building it has occupied for over 150 years. The showroom features collections by Patek Philippe, Rolex and TUDOR alongside our fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom
Guildford showroom