World Timers are among Patek Philippe’s most popular complications, with a history spanning over almost 80 years (thanks to the collaboration with Cottier). A cult status confirmed at Phillips May 2016 auction, when a rare Patek 2523/1 from 1954 achieved US$ 2.5 million. At Baselworld 2016, Patek Philippe introduced two new models featuring this practical function, the 5930 World Time Chronograph and the 5230, replacing the now iconic reference 5130. Monochrome takes a closer look at this new take on an icon.
The story of Patek Philippe World Timers is indissolubly linked to Louis Cottier. The son of a watchmaker, Cottier earned horological fame for developing mechanisms indicating the time for our 24 time zones on a single dial. From the 1930s onward, Cottier manufactured such watches for prestigious clients among which Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Rolex or Agassiz. In 1950, he created the first World Timer with 2 crowns, allowing to change the reference city when travelling. This practical innovation was presented to Patek Philippe, inspiring the cult 2523 series, manufactured from 1953. For more details about the World Timers and for Louis Cottier’s contribution, see our technical guide here.
More recently (in 2000 to be precise), the launch of the Patek Philippe reference 5110 marked a revival for World Time watches. The 5110 was replaced in 2006 by the 5130, itself replaced today by the Patek Philippe 5230.
The new Patek Philippe 5230 (right) side by side with its predecessors, the 5130 (center) and 5110 (left), evidencing the recent evolution of the iconic Heure Universelle design. With regards to the case, winglet-style lugs, the absence of a crown-shield and a new bezel design are the main evolutions. The diameter of the 5230 is 38.5mm versus 39.5mm and 37mm. The hands, center-dial and cities featured are amongst the other visible evolutions.
Reading the official press release, the Patek Philippe 5230 World Time has been introduced because some changes in time zones designations were needed. For instance, Moscow has shifted one hour closer to Western Europe, relocating from UTC+4 to UTC+3. The new international city ring was the opportunity for a redesign of the model.
The case design of the Patek Philippe 5230 is one of the main evolutions of the model. The new winglet-style lugs are directly inspired from the Patek tradition. The impression is nonetheless (and surprisingly) modern with sleek and dynamic lines; a balanced design owing much to its thin inclined bezel and slender profile. The pusher on the left of the case allows to advance local time by one hour increments, while rotating the city ring at the same time – no technical evolutions are to be seen, compared to the previous reference 5130.
The hands have been reworked as well and contribute noticeably to the new look. The shape of the hour hand is a reference to the southern constellation while the minute hand has a more traditional lozenge-shaped contour. These are nicely facetted and crafted in rose or white gold to match the colour of the case.
The center dial features a new, beautiful hand-guilloche pattern, inspired from a pocket watch exhibited at the Patek Philippe museum. Definitely worth a close look. The precision of the finishing is exquisite, precise and extremely elegant – don’t consider this closer look too much, the visual experience is much different and certainly more discreet when the watch is worn on the wrist.
The Patek Philippe 5230 is powered by the fine and well-known Calibre 240HU (HU= Heure Universelle). This 27.50mm automatic movement features an elegant 22K gold micro-rotor, allowing a height below 3.9mm; despite the multiple time zone mechanism, placed on top of the movement, on the dial side. Among the recent enhancements of the movement, the spiromax balance spring made of silicon-based silinvar and working in conjunction with the beautiful Gyromax balance wheel. The 240HU sports superb finishes with finely applied Geneva stripes, perlage and angle – if these words are not familiar to you, take a look at our guide on finishing.
The Patek Philippe 5230 World Time is available in pink gold or white gold, with a dark grey center dial. Both versions are worn on black or chocolate brown alligator strap, with Patek Philippe folding buckle.
A worthy heir to the Patek Philippe worldtime tradition, the 5230 is an elegant and beautiful watch in every respect. Refreshing a classic is not simple but the 5230 is convincing. Better than its predecessors? Just charmingly different. The price for this superb watch is 42,300 CHF.
- Case: 38.5mm diameter x 10.23mm thick – 18k pink gold or 18k white gold – sapphire crystal on the front and on the back – 30m water resistant
- Movement: 240HU, in-house – automatic winding – 48h power reserve – 21,600 vibrations/h – hours, minutes, world time with day/night indication. Patek Philippe Seal.
- Strap: alligator leather strap on gold folding clasp