All The Time In The World

A new world-time watch from iwc, inspired by its highly coveted historical mark timepieces

The enforced passivity of modern air travel has probably been responsible for more fantasies of actually sitting in the cockpit of a high-performance fighter jet than The Right Stuff, Top Gun and all of the Iron Eagle movies put together. But for most of us who find ourselves more often than not staring moodily at yet another pre-takeoff safety film from inside of a pressurized aluminum tube, fantasies are exactly what they will remain. For watch enthusiasts, this in turn poses an interesting dilemma in what to wear; do you go full-on faux-Maverick and strap on an ultra-legible sports chronograph (preferably one actually used by air crews), or do you turn your back on the whole thing, put on a dress watch and withdraw psychologically into a resentful pose of disdain for the whole business of flying?

Watch lovers are only human, and like most of our fellows, we’d like to have our cake and eat it too. We’d like a watch redolent of the adventure of flight — something that lets us keep a shred of our micromanaging, pretense-of-control self-image intact — but we’d also like a watch that’s wearable enough, versatile enough and practical enough for us to shrug off the faint otaku-fanboy taint that hovers around many so-called pilot’s watches.

We were very pleased, therefore, to see in IWC’s lineup of pilot’s watches at this year’s SIHH one that fits the bill very nicely: the Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer. The most iconic of IWC’s pilot’s watches, the Mark series, have always had clean designs that transcend mere utilitarianism. One of the most attractive features of the Worldtimer is that, like the Mark series from which it’s derived, it’s clearly both an instrument watch (one which, thankfully, does not indulge in superfluous signals of its heritage), and at the same time, possessed of the same clean, genre-transcending qualities as those classic IWC Mark watches so coveted by collectors.

IWC is no stranger to dual-time-zone watches (the brand’s UTC watches, which showed home time in a window with a rotating, Arabic-numeral-decorated disc, were models of clarity), but this is the first world-time watch IWC’s ever offered. The IWC Worldtimer shows the time in 24 time zones around the world via a classic world-time complication: a rotating disc, divided into AM and PM sectors, with reference cities and a one-hour UTC offset representing each of the 24 time zones. UTC itself is represented in red. Though “UTC” and “GMT” are often used interchangeably, there are differences. First, historically, GMT has been defined as starting both at noon and midnight (astronomers, in particular, prefer the former). Second, GMT is defined by a mean solar day, whereas UTC is based on an atomic time standard. For that reason, “UTC” is the preferred term for those seeking to avoid ambiguity, and it’s generally the term used in a technical context — as in flying.

One of the nicest touches in the Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer isn’t visible from its exterior. There’s a soft-iron inner case that protects the movement against the effects of magnetic fields — a feature included in many authentic aviation watches. The only purely decorative touch is the date window, which displays three dates at a time, intended to be reminiscent of an altimeter.

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