The vast majority of people are comfortable with watches displaying hours and minutes. But for those on the move or doing business around the world, multiple time zone watches might just make a better wrist companion. A case in point is the luxurious yet functional Carl F. Bucherer Patravi TravelTec II, which displays not one, not two, but three time zones simultaneously. Moreover, I have had a bit of a crush on the TravelTec ever since it was introduced, so a perfectly good reason to go hands-on with this practical traveller’s watch.
The Patravi TravelTec II is both a bold chronograph and it also stands out because it indicates the time in no fewer than three time zones. It’s already twelve years ago since the Lucerne based brand Carl F. Bucherer introduced the TravelTec and I remember that it just made a huge impression on me. Although it’s only twelve years ago, taste was quite different in those days, and such big and bold luxury sport/travel watches were quite rare. The TravelTec managed to combine three time zones, a chronograph, an easy way to adjust time, and a date, altogether in a luxury sports watch. Good for the boardroom, and equally befitting next to the swimming pool.
A short step back in history and more about traveller’s watches
As far back as the late 1990’s Carl F. Bucherer wanted to introduce another traveller’s watch than what was mostly available in those days. You either had to go upmarket to brands like Patek, Jaeger-LeCoultre or Lange & Söhne, or choose a Rolex (GMT Master II or Explorer II). A third option, also the most affordable option, would be to choose one of many brands using an ETA 2893 movement. The latter simply did not offer the functionality that a traveller needs. The tried and tested ETA 2893 indicates time in two time zones, however it does not offer the possibility to adjust the hour hand independently when traveling across time zones. We usually refer to watches with this ETA 2893 movement as “office GMT” watches. What you want as a world traveller is a watch that allows you to adjust the central hour hand independently, like for instance on the aforementioned Rolex models. That’s what we would call “traveller’s GMT” watches. And that’s exactly what Carl F. Bucherer was aiming for.
While the company did not have such watchmaking expertise in-house they sought help from THA (Techniques Horlogères Appliquées, which translates to Applied Watchmaking Technologies) and together they realized a new three time zones construction and a new movement named Calibre 1901. This movement with a rather complex mechanism to allow for adjusting home time back and forth, while the date will follow the changing of the local time (central hour and minute hands.) as the basis for a new watch named TravelTec, and was launched in 2005. Later THA was bought (or incorporated) by Carl F. Bucherer, which led to the birth of the Manufacture Carl F. Bucherer.
Back to the TravelTec II at hand, this one keeps the same three time zone indications as offered by the first TravelTec. The main difference is that one of the 24-hour scales has been moved from inside the watch to the bezel. This means better legibility and a cleaner dial.
Carl F. Bucherer TravelTec on the left hand side, and to the right is the TravelTec II
Its design is powerful and masculine, and maybe even unorthodox. For me, Carl F. Bucherer found the right balance with this new version of the TravelTec: it feels luxurious, functional and highly technical at the same time. The case is fashioned out of pink gold and blackened titanium (case back and pushers) and crafted to impressive standards. At 47.46 mm in diameter and 15.9 mm thick, it is massive and boasts bold, tough and angular lines, while it feels pleasantly balanced on the wrist.
Functions of the Carl F. Bucherer TravelTec II
The local time is displayed traditionally, with a central hour and minute hand, while the running seconds are in the sub dial at 3 o’clock. The red central hand allows the indication of a second time zone on the adjustable inner GMT ring, and the 24-hour indication on the bezel provides a third time zone indication. The date is displayed through an aperture between 4 and 5 o’clock, and Carl F. Bucherer made it extra legible by means of a small magnifier under the sapphire crystal (and it works very well.)
The time can be adjusted through the crown, and when you pull the crown into the first position, you can adjust the hour hand with 1-hour increments both forward and backward. The date will follow along when adjusting the local time, even when adjusting only the local hours when travelling. A small red indication on lower end of the dial reads “←West | East→” to remind you of how to adjust the hand when travelling through time zones one way or the other.
The inner rotating 24-hour ring can be adjusted easily via a ‘locking pusher’ at the 10 o’clock position. When you push the button the rotating 24-hour ring will rotate with 1-hour jumps, and the locking mechanism allows you to change the direction of rotation of the 24-hour ring. Flying to the east or to the west, change that locking mechanism and adjust the 24-hour ring accordingly.
Of course we should not forget about the chronograph! At the usual positions are pushers to start and stop (pusher at 2 o’clock) and to reset all chronograph counters to zero (pusher at 4 o’clock.) The chronograph second hand is mounted on the central axis, and at the 9 o’clock position is the 30-minute counter, while the 12-hour counter is located at 6 o’clock.
A nice touch, the lateral sapphire window offers a view on the inner workings of this patented GMT adjustment mechanism. The rectangular chronograph pushers are made of lightweight titanium clad with black DLC. Despite this complex case the TravelTec II is water resistant to 100m. The case back has both an aesthetic and functional purpose, as it’s engraved with a GMT-scale allowing to determine the time in different cities – a useful addition when setting the different time zones of your watch.
The TravelTec II movement, Calibre 1901.1
The TravelTec II is powered by the automatic caliber 1901.1. The movement is based on the ETA 2894, and this is a chronograph module, with 3-6-9 sub dial layout for the running seconds and chronograph registers, on top of the tried and tested ETA 2892. The chronograph module is operated by cam-and-lever. The entire movement has been substantially modified by Carl F. Bucherer to accommodate the additional time zone indication, and the possibility to change the hour hand with 1-hour increments. It runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour and can store 42h of power reserve, and it is chronometer certified by the COSC.
Carl F. Bucherer TravelTec II on the wrist
The TravelTec II is not a small watch, and is not really material for your next black tie event. It’s quite big and hefty, and the diameter of 47.4mm combined with a thickness of 15.9mm sounds big and hefty as well. On the wrist however, it does feel less chunky or massive as the numbers might indicate. So before those impressive numbers scare you away, I would advice you, as always, to try it on your own wrist. Especially on the rubber strap it wears pretty comfortable.
The 18k rose gold with titanium case features strong angular and masculine lines, and makes a powerful impression. Black and rose gold make a great combination to start with. When you add to that the build quality of the case, dial, bezel, pushers, crown and not to forget the rubber strap with 18k rose gold adjustable folding buckle, it becomes a very nice complete and luxurious package.
The Patravi TravelTec II boasts a black lacquered dial with a technical look. The hour markers and applied sub counter rings match the luxurious color of the case and add a sense of depth. For enhanced legibility, the skeleton hands and indexes feature luminescent material. For more information, visit www.carl-f-bucherer.com
Technical specifications – Carl F. Bucherer Patravi TravelTec II
- Case: 47.4 mm x 15.9 mm pink gold and blackened titanium case – screw-down crown – sapphire crystal with antireflective coating on both sides – sapphire caseback – 10 ATM / 100 m water resistant
- Movement: caliber CFB 1901.1 mechanical with automatic winding – 28.6 mm – 42h power reserve – 28,800 vibrations/h – 39 jewels – hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph, three time zones. COSC certification.
- Strap: rubber strap with folding buckle
- Price: EUR 35,800