Whether we take a plane for work or for pleasure, changing continents can often result in losing our temporal bearings. It can be important to know what time it is around the globe and some watches are made exactly with this in mind.
It’s summertime, time for vacation, time to leave for other climes. Anyone who has ever taken a long-haul trip has surely asked themselves: “Is it daytime or nighttime in that country?” To find out, simply check your watch, provided of course that it has been designed to show several different time zones.
The subdivision of the terrestrial globe into 24 areas where the time is identical dates back to 1884. This is thanks to a Canadian engineer who had set himself the goal of streamlining rail transport throughout the world. At that time, each country was free to live at the time of its choosing! He decided to set the first time zone in England and to make the Greenwich meridian the reference point for this new universal time system.
GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) remained in force until 1984, at which point the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) was established, calculated by atomic clocks of absolute precision.
The globe-trotter watch (designed in the 1950s as a response to airline pilots who were keen to know the time in two different places of the world) offers an additional hand that completes one rotation of the dial in 24 hours and a rotating bezel graduated from 1 to 24. We can therefore see at a glance the time of the country we are visiting and the time of our usual place of residence. Sometimes, a day/night indicator simplifies this reading even further. Very handy to ensure you do not wake up your family on the other side of the world by telephoning them by mistake at 3 o’clock in the morning!
There are also other devices to assist with traveling through time and space: some watches have a bezel bearing the names of major foreign cities so you need only select the city of your choice to know the local time.
In the end, it is not mandatory to cross oceans and hop continents to enjoy this type of watch: contemplating their dials is already a veritable getaway…