Today at Baselworld 2016, Patek Philippe presented the new World Time ref. 5230. This new Patek Philippe World Time watch, also referred to as Heure Universelle by collectors, has ranked among the manufacture's most popular complicated wristwatches for nearly eighty years. Because some time zone designations have recently changed or were replaced with new ones, Baselworld is the ideal platform for Patek Philippe to present the new World Time watch Ref. 5230, which is replacing all previous models. The changes were a welcome opportunity to subtly rework the case, dial, and hand designs as well.
It may seem simple to divide the planet into 24 time zones with 15 degrees of longitude each, but the political process behind it is convoluted. Some time zones have meanwhile been assigned different city names, for instance Dubai instead of Riyadh or Brisbane instead of Noumea, to mention only two. Formerly, Moscow was located in the UTC+4 zone, but the Russian capital has now shifted one hour closer to Western Europe, "relocating" to UTC+3. From time to time, such changes make it necessary to modify the place names on the city scales of World Time watches. This is why Patek Philippe is discontinuing the production of its legacy World Time watches and launching the new Ref. 5230 with the updated, globally valid city names.
For Patek Philippe, this was also an ideal cue for reworking the appearance of the World Time watch, subtly retouching details to give it a truly contemporary and distinctive personality. Under the auspices of Sandrine Stern, the president's wife, the design department took inspiration from elements that have reflected Patek Philippe's heritage for decades. As regards the Calatrava case of the new Ref. 5230 in white or rose gold 5N, changes were applied among others to the winglet-style lugs and the narrow, smoothly polished bezel that attractively sets the watch apart from its predecessors.
The hand shapes have been given a new look as well: Instead of the venerable ringed hour hand and Dauphine minute hand, the Ref. 5230 now sports a pierced hour hand with a silhouette that evokes the famous "Southern Cross" constellation, and the minute hand features a lozenge-shaped contour. Both hands have a sharp center ridge between the carefully lapped, beveled flanks. Like the applied baton hour markers, they are crafted from 18K white or rose gold 5N to match the case.
The center for rare handcrafts. This title is deliberately ambiguous. It refers to the Patek Philippe manufacture which since it was founded in 1839 has always been an important center for the pinnacle in decorative handcrafts as well. Then, it also means the centers of World Time watch dials that are perfect stages for traditional forms of craftsmanship. Patek Philippe World Time watches decorated with polychrome cloisonné enamel maps on their dials are nothing short of legendary. The centers of other World Time watches feature hand-guilloched decors, like the black dial center of the new Ref. 5230 with its filigreed woven pattern. The inspiration for this guilloched basket weave motif was taken from a precious pocket watch on display at the Patek Philippe Museum, except that its guilloché was originally coated with blue flinqué enamel. Patek Philippe still masters these nearly extinct handcrafts because the manufacture carefully preserves the required skills and know-how and assures that they are handed down from one generation to the next. This also applies to the equipment. For example, the manually controlled rose engine needed to guilloche dials is almost one hundred years old. But it has been constantly serviced and works as reliably today as when it was first commissioned.
Patek Philippe World Time watches show all 24 world time zones at a glance. The local time ismost prominently displayed for the time zone whose assigned city name is just above the small red arrow at 12 o'clock —in the classic manner with the hour and minute hands. In the other 23 zones, the times are directly readable on the 24-hour ring that rotates counterclockwise within the city disk. The minutes indicated by the minute hand are the same for all time zones. Patek owes this ingenious functionality to an invention in the 1930s by Genevan watchmaker Louis Cottier. The mechanism was later refined and patented by Patek Philippe. When traveling into a different time zone, the pusher in the case at 10 o'clock is pressed as often as needed to align the respective city name with the red arrow at 12 o'clock. Each time the pusher is pressed, the hour hand will advance by one hour while the city disk and the 24-hour ring will move by one increment in the counterclockwise direction. During this process, the time zone mechanism is uncoupled from the movement so that the accurate progression of the minute hand and the amplitude of the balance remain unaffected. Consequently, the time in a 24 zones is always displayed with the precision specified by the directives of the Patek Philippe Seal. The calibre powering the new Patek Philippe ref. 5230 is the automatic in-house calibre 240 HU composed of 239 parts and 33 jewels. The calibre provides a power reserve of 48 hours when fully wound and is visible via the display case back.
The new Patek Philippe World Time ref. 5230 is available in 18K white gold or 5N rose gold. Wristshots coming up later this week.
Sticker Price $47,000 USD. For more info on Patek Philippe click here.