The 24-city world timer is a rare bird, made by few watch companies. For Patek Philippe, it is a signature complication, as closely associated with the brand as its perpetual calendar chronograph and famous Nautilus.
Patek introduced its first World Time watch, ref. 1415, in 1939, replacing it in 1953 with the ref. 2523. In 1965, it stopped manufacturing both models and didn’t make another World Time watch until 2000, when it debuted the ref. 5110. This milestone reference represented a new generation of World Time watches at Patek Philippe, equipped with an automatic movement instead of a manual-wind caliber and with a pusher at 10 o’clock for setting the local city instead of a second crown. Since then, several more World Time models have appeared, some more decorative than others, but the ref. 5110 remains a coveted collector’s piece, an icon of the category.
“Patek Philippe makes fewer than 60,000 watches a year, which is less than 1/20 what Rolex produces,” says Michael Cash, of SwissWatchExpo, which is offering this platinum ref. 5110. “Part of the reason is the passionate pursuit of perfection. Every component of a Patek Philippe watch is produced by the company in-house and finished by hand. It can take almost a year to make Patek Philippe’s simplest watch. More complicated ones, like the World Time, can take two years or more.”
A large part of the ref. 5110’s appeal lies in the guilloche work on the blue center dial, one of the subtlest treatments in the World Time class of watches. “The guilloche pattern, a hallmark of Patek Philippe’s attention to detail, adds a layer of texture and visual intrigue,” says Cash. “It’s not only an aesthetic marvel but also a nod to the vastness of the world and the global nature of timekeeping.”