Life Style

Whats ticking? News from the bleeding edge of haute horologie

Why wait for your phone to wake up from flight mode? The Glashütte Senator Cosmopolite – now in life-proof stainless steel – always knows the local time, whichever of the worlds 36 timezones youre in.

With the notable exception of IWC and a few other of Switzerlands more pragmatic watchmakers, the term GMT is still used to describe watches that display a second time zone. But Greenwich Mean Time hasnt existed since we stopped looking to the stars in the Sixties, turning instead to the digital readouts of a global network of atomic clocks – aka UTC, or Universal Time Co-ordinated. The zero hours reference point on the globe is still Greenwich, but even London is UTC +1 from March to September, aka British Summer Time. And the number of time zones circling the Earth is no longer 24, in helpful increments of 1 hour; no, its 36.

Confused? You will be, unless you stop worrying and simply invest in a Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite, now priced at a wholly tempting £16,100 thanks to a new case in steel rather than gold. At the dials 8 oclock position, two narrow windows fit snugly into the curve of the dial and present your global destination as an IATA international airport code for both Daylight Saving and Standard Time periods of the year. Those with full-hour deviation from 00:00 in Greenwich are indicated in black ink; a further nine time zones with half-hour offsets are shown in blue; then three in red that remain proudly, if awkwardly 45 minutes off-kilter: Chatham Islands/New Zealand at 12:45, Western Australia at +8:45 and Nepal at +5:45.

But once a year

No one quite knows how theyve done it, but that purveyor of all things proudly Swiss has out-done even its own reputation for great-value watchmaking with the latest addition to Longines Master Collection: an annual calendar that costs just £1,540. To give you some idea, the next up the scale is Omegas Globemaster at £6,240 (albeit kitted out with some top-flight base mechanics).

Readers may already be aware of the vaunted perpetual calendar watch, which keeps the perfect date, every day, without adjustment, even on leap years – invented 222 years ago by Breguet. The annual calendar just takes into account the four 30-day months, so only needs adjusting once a year at the end of February. Extraordinarily, this far simpler and far more cost-effective calendar complication was invented just 21 years ago, by Patek Philippe. It might not be perpetual, but its proved just as alluring, and fine watchmakings other players, including Montblanc, A Lange & Söhne even the mighty Rolex have wasted no time in catching up. Just not quite as cost-effectively or unfussily as Longines.

Great scott!

It may resemble the dashboard of Emmett Browns DeLorean time machine, but this particular device goes far further back than 1955 – 1795 in fact. Urwerks otherwise futuristic AMC is the direct descendant of Breguets famed Sympathiques symbiotic master/slave, clock/watch device. Once a day, the watch was placed into a recess at the top of the clock, thereby setting it to correct time, winding and regulating it. Urwerks still-conceptual Atomic Master Clock aims to do those three things using a portable (albeit 25kg) ytterbium atomic clock that mechanically engages and adjusts the watch movement.

Up HRHs sleeve

Royal-wedding fever may have long calmed down, but horological fanatics are still revelling in one of the few decent watch spots that Harry and Meghans nuptials afforded, beyond Archbishop Justin Welbys quartz Seiko and Wills ever-present Omega Seamaster: the formidably connoisseur, devastatingly rakish choice of Parmigiani and its Toric Chronographe, peeking from who elses Anderson & Sheppard cuff than that of HRH The Prince of Wales. The traditional-with-a-twist styling of the watchs fluted caseband was perfectly suited to the father of the groom (though the actual model is long out of production) but, crucially, it finally proved to stuck-in-the-muds one important sartorial argument: you really can wear a sporty stopwatch function to a formal occasion. Well played, your Highness.

Café Olé!

Zeniths recent adventures with the oil-stained dapper dans of the Distinguished Gentlemans Ride have clearly had an effect on the Swiss watchmaker, now driven to adapting its vintage-inspired Type 20 Pilot chronograph to the needs of two-wheeling biker boys, rather than equally leather-clad flyboys. The black-coated Ton Up is a tribute to the café racer culture, where motorcycles stripped of all unnecessary weight and parts gather at a remote café to race beyond the titular 100mph. Despite the freewheelin overtones however, it remains – by design – a true pilots watch. Highly legible thanks to a 45mm diameter, with a massive onion-type crown designed for easy handling with gloved hands and prominent pushpieces for definitive activation of the El Primero stopwatch function, it is – come to think of it – all rather handy for motorcyclists as well as aviators.

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