Time For Travellers – Five Dual Time Zone Watches

Specialist Picks • 20 May 2016

Time For Travellers – Five Dual Time Zone Watches

by Victor Toth

Complicated timepieces with chronographs, chiming mechanisms, or ever more complex tourbillons are hugely impressive – but if there is one type of complication that has been enjoying more and more attention, that is going to the slowly but surely growing group of travel watches.

The so-called “travel time” indications are one of the most practical and genuinely useful features in a luxury timepiece. Today, we bring you five stellar examples of dual time zone watches for any adventure no matter where tomorrow brings you.

Rolex GMT-Master II
To start with the quintessential GMT watch, the Rolex GMT-Master II. Originally designed in 1954 in collaboration with Pan-American Airlines, the GMT-Master was conceived as the ideal watch for pilots who needed a reliable tool that could help keep track of the time on any two places on Earth. “GMT” stands for Greenwich Mean Time, originally the international civil time standard centred on a point outside London.

The key innovation of the GMT-Master was the extra fourth hand that indicated the time on a 24-hour scale on the bezel. This allowed the wearer to not only see the local time, but to also instantly read the time in another location. Today, the Rolex GMT-Master II is a true classic and certainly one of the most popular travel time watches available today.

Travellers appreciate the Rolex GMT-Master II for its ability to display different time zones.

MB&F Legacy Machine 1
A much more niche offering by the tirelessly amazing independent brand MB&F is the Legacy Machine 1. Where the Rolex GMT-Master II had one additional hand to keep track of hours, the Legacy Machine 1 actually offers a secondary time indication that is totally independent from the main time, with individual sub-dials for each time zone. This means that one can set both the hours and minutes on both dials to indicate the time in places that deviate by only 30 and not a full hour, or also to set the hands to 12:00 and use this secondary display as a 12-hour chronograph.


The MB&F Legacy Machine 1 offers a secondary time indication that is totally independent from the main time.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524G
Patek Philippe refers to its dual time zone watches as “Travel Time”, and the latest is the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524G, inspired by vintage aviation watches. In a constant search of refined and elegant aesthetics, Patek Philippe has opted to display the second time zone with an hour hand that moves on a 12-hour scale, with the addition of an AM/PM indicator that helps identify at a glance whether it is the morning or evening hours in that additional location.

This design allows the wearer the hide the additional hour hand underneath the main hour hand, elegantly concealing it when not in use. This goes to show that not all travel time watches have to look unnecessarily complicated especially since the dual time zone feature is only needed when travelling.

The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524G features an AM/PM indicator that helps identify the morning or evening hours.

Hublot King Power Unico GMT
In contrast, Hublot takes things to the next level in terms of visual complexity with their King Power Unico GMT. The King Power Unico GMT uses four large, domed discs that rotate continuously underneath the set of main hour and minute hands. Printed on the bezel and on an internal ring around the periphery of the dial are a number of key city names associated with some of the more important time zones of the world. Red lines respective to each of these city names mark the actual hour on one of the four discs, allowing the wearer to quickly read the time in any of these places. Again, Hublot has really found a way to display world time in a bold new way and one that works remarkably well with the King Power aesthetic.

The Hublot King Power Unico GMT display world time in a bold new way that is aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Dual Time
Audemars Piguet’s preferred way of displaying time in a secondary time zone is rather fascinating, as it adds a certain unbalance to the calculated and poised design of their famed collection, the Royal Oak. The Royal Oak Dual Time relies on two sub-dials above the six o’clock position to give you the hours, minutes and indicate day and night. Notably, while the dual time sub-dial has both hour and minute hands, the minute hand of the secondary time indication is linked to the main minute hand – both move in sync. In other words, only the hours are adjustable on the sub-dial, unlike on the MB&F Legacy Machine 1.

Audemars Piguet relies on a Jaeger-LeCoultre movement that has been modified in a way so that all indications, including the main and secondary time displays, as well as the date, can be set through the crown. One final addition is that of a power reserve indicator, a handy feature that warns you to add some extra winding to your automatic-winding timepiece, should you forget to do so in the haste of globetrotting.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Dual Time features two sub-dials above the six o’clock position to give the hours, minutes and indicate day and night.

There you have it, five very different answers from five very different brands that answer the same question. Since all five have been well thought out and executed, no matter which one you go for, you’ll be getting a reliable travel companion for life.

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