Travel watches, along with blue dials and vintage aesthetics, are all the rage these days. With the advent of globalisation, GMT/UTC watches are no longer the exclusive domain of jet-setters and Pan Am pilots. Today, a wider audience of frequent flyers – and people with business interests or friends dotted around the world – are taking an interest in watches that can give them two distinct time references at a single glance. When it comes to adjusting local and home time on GMT watches, few can beat the practicality and simplicity of the Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC. Unlike so many GMT models that need adjusting at the crown or via correctors, the Globetimer offers travellers a simple, intuitive way to set the local time and dons the sleek, minimalist Porsche Design aesthetic many have come to love. Released during Baselworld 2019 in four different versions, we got to spend some hands-on time with the titanium model and brown dial.
Taking the hassle out of adjusting the time
Many GMT or dual-time models are operated directly from the crown, but as any traveller possessing one of these watches knows, once you start fiddling with the crown, things can get complicated. How many notches of the crown have to be extracted to set the reference time, how many for the local time? Did you bring the instruction manual? Will setting local time paralyse the minute and second functions? Other systems, like tiny correctors on the sides of a case, require a corrector, but how often do you pack your corrector stick in your hand luggage? Somewhat simplistic, but you get the idea.
The Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC dispenses with these traditional systems. Two pushers on the right side of the case, which are very similar to the chronograph pushers on other Porsche Design models, are responsible for making this watch so easy to use. The top pusher (+) advances the local (current) time in one-hour increments, while the bottom pusher (-) causes the hour hand to move in the opposite direction.
The beauty of this system is that the time-setting function does not stop the minute and seconds hands, meaning you don’t lose chronometric accuracy. What’s the point, after all, of having a COSC chronometer-certified movement if every time you set the watch the minute and seconds hand come to a halt? Designed like the pedals of a car, the buttons are ergonomic and operate smoothly and precisely. Naturally, the date is linked to the local time jumping forward at midnight and there is a reassuring day/night indicator (white for day, black for night) at 9 o’clock.
Case, dial and design
You are all familiar with the aerodynamic anatomy of PD cases and their indebtedness to the aesthetics of the Porsche 911. As one of the first watch brands to use titanium for its cases (1980), Porsche Design has endowed the 1919 Globetimer UTC with cool grey-coloured armour. The classic cylindrical case has a contemporary diameter of 42mm and a height of 14.90mm. Lightweight and supremely ergonomic thanks to the signature hollowed sloping lugs, the watch hugs the wrist nicely.
The Globetimer, like so many Porsche Design watches, is also a tactile experience. The featherweight titanium case, the slightly gritty texture of the sandblasted areas and the spiky tread on the crown are all tempting surfaces to explore. Underpinning its vocation as a traveller’s watch, the caseback is engraved with the name of 24 cities and their respective time differences. A nice detail is the inclusion of Zell am See, the headquarters of Porsche Design’s studio in Austria.
By using the dynamic pushers instead of a crown to adjust the time, the case is sealed against dust and is water-resistant to 100 metres. The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal glass with no fewer than seven coatings of anti-reflective treatment and the hour, minute, central seconds and home time hands feature luminescence – as do the hour markers.
The thin polished bezel allows for a deep-set, generous size dial and I was won over by the delicious chocolaty colour of the dial and the sharp legibility of all the markings. As you can see, the peripheral 24-hour ring with white markings for home time is followed by the hour and minutes track for local time with applied hour markers. The innermost ring, picked out with its silvery background, is for the date.
Indicated with a white-tipped pointer hand, there were moments when I had to check whether I was looking at the date hand or the home time hand. Admittedly, the home time hand is longer and thicker, but I can see how this could create some confusion in an otherwise impeccable layout. For the record, the model with the black dial features a bright blue arrow-tipped hand for home time, which is much easier to distinguish.
The Globetimer UTC is in a class all its own. If you want to get an idea of the almost ‘incestuous’ synergy between Porsche Design watches and the mythical sports cars, don’t miss Frank’s interview with Rolf Bergman. You can also watch our Baselworld video where Bergman shows us former Porsche Design travel watches and a live demonstration of how the latest 1919 Globetimer UTC collection works
Powering the Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC is the new calibre Werk 04.110. Based on the Sellita Caliber SW 200, the movement has undergone serious modifications (for instance, a ball-borne, bidirectional winding rotor). On top of the base movement is a time-zone mechanism specially developed for Porsche Design by Dubois-Depraz. This push-button time-zone mechanism was not available on the market and had to be created (only brands like Patek or Ulysse Nardin have this in their collection). The movement has a frequency of 4Hz, a power reserve of 38 hours and is COSC certified.
Would you agree that this could be one of the most practical, user-friendly UTC travel watches on the market today? Operating pushers just seems to be more intuitive and natural than fiddling with a crown or hunting for a hairgrip to poke a corrector. The fact that local time can be set without paralysing the minute and seconds hands makes a lot of sense given the COSC-chronometry status of this watch. You can really feel that a lot of thought has gone into the design of this watch. It’s also a pretty sleek-looking timekeeper with high-quality finishes and those unmistakable Porsche Design genes.
This Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC with a brown dial comes with a matching genuine Porsche car leather strap with a folding clasp and pusher and is priced at EUR 5,950. More details at www.porsche-design.com.
Note: The Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC is available in 4 versions, including this titanium case/brown dial/brown leather, but also in titanium case/black dial/black leather, titanium case/blue dial/titanium bracelet and in 18k rose gold case/black dial/black leather.