Patek Philippe Reference 5930: World Time Chronograph
Omniscient time. Chronograph complications and world time, though appreciated by men of influence, are rarely combined in a watch. With the reference 5930, Patek Philippe has risen to the challenge.
To be perfectly honest (but also because we are aware that watchmaking experts know Patek Philippe's history inside out) we must first and foremost acknowledge that this is not a first. Indeed, the Genevan maison owned by the Stern family since 1931 had already come forward with a chronograph equipped with world time display. It was just the one piece (reference 862 442) and it was made in 1940. It was most probably designed for a physician as its dial featured a pulsimetric scale (to take someone’s pulse) and a rare asthometric (number of breaths per minute). Exhibited at the Patek Philippe museum, it is not unknown to experts and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Aficionados who might have been longing to get a similar piece one day will be happy to learn – should they not know already – that Patek Philippe has made their wish come true.
Globe-trotters as target
The fact that reference 5930 was placed at the center of the new pieces the brand exhibited at Baselworld was undeniable proof of the manufacturer's will to resume production of travelling watches for busy globe-trotters. As competition is fierce in that growing market and in order to set the basis, the noble Maison had to take a well thought-out and rational choice. After all, men of influence prefer simplicity. As Stern put it: “Creating a chronograph in which the sun never sets because it always displays the 24 time zones is a challenge of the highest order”. On top of that, the brand needed to combine the two complications without hindering the requirements of the Patek Philippe Poinçon that requests to aim always for elegant and as thin as possible.
Taking on every challenge
Incidentally, the Manufacture’s watchmakers are known for their ability to always go one step further. This explains how they managed to embed a vertical coupling-clutch and a fly-back function (World Time mechanism patented by Patek Philippe) in the self-winding chronograph CH 28-520 HU caliber that is equipped with a traditional column wheel. Initially developed by Louis Cottier in the 1930s, the system has been reinterpreted by Patek Philippe more than once (in 1959 and 1999) to provide extreme simplicity and to ensure safety, despite its technical complexities. The highly sophisticated mechanical assembly is housed in a 39.50-mm white gold case whose timeless design will allow it to grow old without wrinkling. Its classic blue guilloché dial provides an efficient and modern display. Indeed, the blue disk of the cities, inscribed with the names of 24 places – each representing a time zone – is on the rim of the watch. Patek Philippe has decided to modify the city scale and hence there are some time zones indicated by new names whilst some cities’ local time has been changed. For example, the brand used Dubai instead of Riyadh, Brisbane instead of Noumea, and the modified local time in Moscow that went from UTC+4 to UTC+3.
World time at a glance
With an air of noble sobriety, there is no doubt that the piece is highly user-friendly as the information that the central hour and minute hands display is quite simple to read. They always indicate the time of the time zone whose "name" is displayed at 12 o'clock whilst the time displayed on the 23 other time zones can easily be read thanks to the disk inscribed with the names of the cities and the (rotating) 24-hour ring placed closer to the center. The latter's white and black division iindicates whether it is day or night in the different locations.
When the traveller arrives in a different time zone, they only have to press the pusher at 10 o'clock. The city disk and the 24-hour ring then advance counter-clockwise in one-hour steps while the central hour hand rotates clockwise, also in one-hour steps. The operation can be stopped when the name of the city required reaches 12 o'clock. During this process, the World Time mechanism and the hour hand are uncoupled from the base movement to avoid disturbing the amplitude of the balance or the accuracy of the minute and chronograph hands. The latter may, at the same time, be activated to display time or to serve as a permanent trotteuse. How good is that?