INTELLIGENCE: Travel Times

Regardless of the reason to travel, whether it is the regular business flight or that vacation you are anticipating, the experience in the 21st century has certainly been more user-centric than ever before.

Modern airports throughout the world have become destinations in their own rights in many ways, offering incredible architecture, in addition to a vast array of amenities including retail and entertainment for travellers who are constantly looking for ways to indulge during their time before flights. And to all fellow watch enthusiasts, it could well be the routine detour to visit the duty-free boutiques, showing support to your favourite brand and perhaps pick up a souvenir or two, but what could be better than having that ultimate one on your wrist that you can look at in admiration during a visit to the lounge?

In that sense, a simple watch with time and date would perhaps not be the practical option, requiring jetsetters to set the time at each layover, and ensuring that said setting is not done when it could adversely affect the date change. A dual time zone complication was invented for this specific reason and has remained a dependable companion for travelling. To most, checking the wrist is still a habitual, perhaps nostalgic way to assure the right moment to contact any business partner, or simply as a sentiment of the loved ones and their whereabouts.

Lot 248 Patek Philippe ref 5990A

In response to the 1950s jet age, where commercial flights became readily available, Rolex came out with the reference 6542 in 1953, and not long afterwards Patek Philippe would introduce the reference 2597 in 1958, a dual time zone complication with quick-set buttons neatly concealed in the case band. As a tailored travel time solution for modern nomads, the brand debuted the reference 5990 in 2014, inheriting the crucial design element from the original travel time 2597: the two quick-set buttons for the local time adjustment, which is now cleverly integrated into the shape of the Nautilus. This integrated two pusher design continues to be influential at Patek Philippe as it has been adopted by other contemporary collections, including the Aquanaut 5164 and Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524.

Lot 248 Patek Philippe ref 5990A Dial

Versatility is also an element of consideration in a travelling timepiece, to take care of different trips and occasions. It is a topic easily relatable to the aesthetic of the watch, in the materials and the style. The design from Gérald Genta is certainly a praiseworthy attribute whenever a Nautilus came into a discussion, and the fact that the existing Nautilus collection consists of various case metals and is available in both bracelets and leather strap options depending on the references, really speaks to the values that watch collectors abide by when considering a modern sports watch.

Branching out from a similar concept, the independent watchmaker Laurent Ferrier had a different idea for the ideal travelling timepiece; his interpretation of a travel time solution was debuted just a year ahead of the reference 5990, dubbed the Galet Traveller Globe. Interestingly, they both adopted a similar quick-set button operational mechanism for local time adjustments, and the button design would appear to be a close tribute to the 2597, not surprising given Ferrier’s history at the house of the Calatrava cross. Style wise, the theme of the Galet Traveller Globe is understated elegance; it has a leather strap, dress watch setting which is a great camouflage to avert any attention during the journey, thus leaving all the fruitful details for the owner to enjoy.

Lot 249 laurent Ferrier Gallet Traveller Blue Night Globe

One of the highlights of the watch is the midnight blue enamel artwork on the dial, that depicts a world map with the United Kingdom highlighted in gold leaf as a touch to commemorate this special edition retailed by the UK retailer William and Son. The movement, calibre LF 230.1, was developed specifically for the Galet Traveller series, with the signature Laurent Ferrier micro-rotor and a natural escapement, which took a solid two years to complete. It is not difficult to understand how Laurent Ferrier, despite being a relatively young brand, is capable of delivering a timepiece with a quality execution that is arguably on par with the most prestigious horology house in Switzerland, as a third generation watchmaker, and with his aforementioned time at Patek Philippe spanning 37 years in Patek Philippe.

At the end of the day, one can always take multiple timepieces on a new adventure, with a view to having different watches on hand to adapt to a particular circumstance or occasion. Perhaps it is simpler to take one trusted friend and enjoy the journey carefree, safe in the knowledge that on arrival, it will be easier to adapt to an exciting new location while not losing the connection to home.