The World Time
By its very nature, the world time complication is one imbued in the romance of travel and adventure in varied, exciting locations. Invented in the 1930s by the Geneva watchmaker Louis Cottier, a world time displays real time in key cities across the planet’s twenty-four time zones. Cottier’s ingenious mechanism - used by Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe amongst others - laid the foundation for world time watches ever since.
In the design, the local time zone is set at the 12 o'clock position, with the hour and minute hand set at local time. The correct hours and minutes are then displayed for every time zone in the world simultaneously, with clear local-time indication on a single dial. In 1959, Patek Philippe obtained a patent for Cottier's device, with the manufacture having become synonymous with the complication. In 1953, they released the reference 2523, which has since come to be cemented as one of the manufacturer’s most iconic models. Almost 60 years later, the 5131G carries this legacy forwards.
The cloisonné enamel is the distinguishing feature of this piece. Twenty-four cities are displayed on the outer edge of the dial, in an italicised font, with the signatures "Patek Philippe" and "Genève" engraved on the bezel. Requiring meticulous attention to detail to craft using cloisonné enamel, this World Time is limited by Patek Philippe’s available supply of these specialist dials - with only a small number of these produced each year. In this example, the enamel shows an array of vibrant tones, finely outlined in yellow gold.
The oversized Observatoire-style hands are reminiscent of Patek Philippe's great world time watches from the past, also providing enhanced legibility against the colourful centre portion of the dial. At 39.5mm in diameter, the case of the 5131G is both contemporary and classic in its design. Its rounded shape, from its curved crown guards to its elongated lugs, lend fluidity and elegance to the watch. Polished throughout, the white gold case complements the ornate design of the dial. The pusher on the left side of the case is used to advance the hour hand forward in one-hour increments to set the local time when one is travelling. A truly functional complication, which may still prove useful today.
Powered by the above-mentioned ultra-thin 240 HU ("Heure Universelle"), this self-winding movement features an elegant 22K gold micro-rotor, allowing a height below 3.9mm; despite the world-time mechanism, placed dial-side on top of the movement.
The 240 HU features a Spiromax balance spring, made of silicon-based Silinvar, working in conjunction with a Gyromax balance-wheel. The movement is beautifully finished, with finely-applied Geneva stripes, perlage and anglage, as well as exquisite chamfering on all angles.
This Patek Philippe World Time 5131G is accompanied by its Patek Philippe inner and outer boxes and Certificate of Origin, stamped by the original retailer in Novara, Italy. It also has its product literature inside the leather folder. The watch comes on our Tokyo grained grey leather strap, with its original alligator strap and corresponding white-gold deployant buckle.