Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone

2016 Top 8 Worldtime Watch for Globetrotter Part 1: Luxury Tier $5,000 to $9,999

In Gears, Travel, Watches by blakbook1 Comment

With the advent of New Year, most of the watch blogs tend to write up retrospective piece on best of 2015. As such, I thought it best to go against convention and ring in Year of the Monkey with 2016 Top Worldtime Watch for Globetrotter.

The bottomline is that our readers travel across timezones on regular basis for both work and personal purposes. At the same time, our readers like to travel in style and are selective about what goes into their overall travel ensemble. A proper wrist watch that can tell multiple timezone is an essential part travel gear. For this review, I’d included all complications that can fulfill this function; GMT,  Timezoner and Worldtime.

I divided the price point into 4 different tiers;

– Entry Tier $2000 to $4,999,

– Luxury Tier $5000 to $9,999,

– Haute Horologie Tier $10,000 to $19,999

– Ultra Haute Horologie Tier $20,000 to $39,999.

I’d also come up with my own Wrist Watch Rating System to help keep everything in perspective as much as is possible:

Prestige/Respect. As much as we’d like to say we don’t care about what others think, we secretly do with those people who matters in our book. For this rating, it means our watch aficionado peers, boss, and yes opposite sex.

Resale Value. If we ever need to sell your timepiece to finance a more ambitious purchase or (God-forbid ) support those financial rainy day, resale value as well as market demand will be very important.

Practicality. Case finish/durability, water resistant, luminescent, readability, reliability.

Movement. As Blakbook readers, we understand and appreciate #CasebackThursday. Our pleasure at seeing well-finished watch movement is equally if not more joyful than seeing nicely designed dial.

Emotive. Good design, personal satisfaction, pride of ownership that continues to delight us six months later

The contenders are both the usual and unusual suspects. All are watches that I personally make serious purchase consideration (or in the case of more expensive ones, put on my grail list). Therefore, the watches you see here are more or less my semi-finalists. 

As I wrote this article, I quickly realized that it would be rather epic in length as far as blog-piece is concerned. So I’d decided to divide it up into 5 parts with Part 5 a summary of the first four parts. I chose Luxury Tier as the first segment because it is arguably the most competitive segment as well as the most achievable (from financial perspective) for Blakbook’s audience. 

The list is pretty much an all-star line-up and you honestly can’t go wrong with anyone of them. Unfortunately, our pocket book has its limit and we can only choose one…or two…or three. 

Without further ado (subsequent parts will not have such lengthy forward), here are the final scores. Note: Click on the blue square below to go through each page.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer. $9,650 USD.

IWC Pilot Worldtime

IWC is the unofficial watch among the financial douche set…umm I mean sector. That dubious distinction aside, IWC is an equally respectable watch brand for those in-the-know. Unfortunately, this true worldtime watch does not command the same type of demand as its stablemate seeing that you can find it at street price of around $7,000 new. That’s over 25% cheaper than retail. 

The watch has closed caseback although its movement finish is pedestrian with proprietary worltime module on top of ébauche base (likely ETA). While the closed caseback helps with anti-magnetic property, modern Omega can achieve same feat with display caseback.

The IWC scores well on Practicality and even more on Emotive. What I love most about the IWC Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer is its signature pilot watch design with intuitively beautiful dial and high legibility for day/night reading. If I sound critical of the IWC Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer it’s because I feel that it can be so much more considering the company behind it.

Rolex Explorer II Polar Ref 21650 $8,100 USD.

2011-Rolex-Explorer-II-Orange-Hand-Side-Portrait

It’s a Rolex and that automatically comes with Prestige although this is one of the lesser known models. Good thing; you’ll not find it on every other wrist. Bad thing; demand/resale value for this particular model is not as high as its stablemates. Rolex purists chide its too large 42mm size although I do see several good reviews in various forums and blogs. Rolex Explorer II Polar Ref 21650 is a more practical watch than the GMT-Master II sister thanks to its brushed oyster bracelet and vertical planes which mean better resistant to scratches.

The watch also has excellent readability thanks to its maxi dial, 42mm size and excellent lume. The use of surgical grade 904L stainless steel gives the watch the kind of deep quality polish that only come with high quality metal. Closed caseback hides durable but utilitarian finished manufacture movement. This was my first Rolex and it still holds special place in my heart.

Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710BLNR $9,895 USD.

Rolex GMT Master ii BLNR

A more classically designed Rolex with subtle twist due to patented first-of-its-kind two-tone Cerachrome bezel (Rolex’s version of ceramic). It explains the watch’s highest Prestige scores when I regular get recognition and props from broad range of people; sidewalk cafe owners in Vietnam, hostess at high-end restaurant Los Angeles, and watch nerd friends everywhere. Rolex purposely adds more bling (although they would likely never admit to it) to the watch with its polished centre link on the bracelet and vertical plane.

While it looks gorgeous, it also pick up scratches like crazy. You can still swim (and I do) in it and have wonderful legibility (thanks to Chromolight lume) at night although lack of AR coating is surprising omission. 6 months later and I still get consistent compliments and joy of ownership whenever I put it on.

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT $7,000 USD.

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 3600 GMT

The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT scores high on Movement with is hand-finished movement and signature polishing technique throughout the dial, case and movement. It’s not outrageous to say that the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT case finishing is on par with the Rolex. I would personally go with the titanium version for its lightness, lume and durability (although it’s closed caseback means no view of the beautiful movement). The dial is austere but very legible although lack of lume (for limited edition) limits night time visibility.

grand-seiko-hi-beat-gmt_9s86_04

Unfortunately, non-watch aficionado will not know the difference between a Grand Seiko and the cheaper Seiko you’ll find at your neighbourhood Price Club. But who cares about those plebes when the limited edition of this bad boy won the prestigious GPHG 2014. And those GPHG (yes even John Meyer) juries do know a thing or two about watches.

NOMOS Zurich Worldtimer True Blue $6,100 USD.

Zuerich Worldtimer True Blue Front

While unknown to non-watch nerds, you’ll get a lot of props from your watch aficionado peers. NOMOS ties with Seiko for best Movement finish of the bunch…the kind of finish that won’t be out of place in the Haute Horologie tier. The NOMOS Zurich Worldtimer True Blue adds in-house escapement and its own dial manufactory are part of the reason why NOMOS garnered so much respect from those in-the-know.

Zuerich Weltzeit True Blue Back

While not a true worldtimer, NOMOS’s implementation is similar to its more heralded Glashütte neighbors, A. Lange & Söhne. A press on the 2 o’clock button results in confident click and rotation through 24 different timezones. While easy to read, its Bauhaus dial design might be too austere for some people looking for more wrist presence. Other cool details like Horween Shell Cordovan strap means its leather will last longer than most. The only real downsides are lack of lume and not-for-everyone Bauhaus styling.

Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum Worldtimer $6,000 USD.

Pre-SIHH 2015: Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum

If the NOMOS and the Grand Seiko have the best movement of the bunch, the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum Worldtimer has the most beautiful dial design in this round-up hence its top Emotive scores. While the design has semblance (on purpose?) to the Vacheron Constantin Worldtime, I do love the clever rotating day/night sapphire disc over the world map. I wish the hands were flame blued as the current polished silver sometimes blend into the dial too much and lend it poor legibility.

Movement-wise it’s similar setup as the IWC, in-house world time module on top of ebauche base. While open caseback, the finish is average at best with poor proportion to the 42mm case.

Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone $7,700 USD

 

Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone

Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone

Louis Vuitton name is synonymous with travel so it makes complete sense to include the fascinating Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone in this round up.  Vuitton Escale Time Zone is the more sensible sibling to the Louis Vuitton Escale Minute Repeater Worldtime. It’s still attention getting piece that will generate extreme love/hate reaction.

Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone worldtime disc is printed as opposed to hand painted. Case dimension reduced to 39mm. While LV claimed in-house movement status, I think that’s misleading market speak.  The truth is that the movement is ebauche base like ETA with in-house worldtime module by  La Fabrique du Temps. Even the design of the lug has subtle inspiration from LV trunk. With thickness at a very svelte 8.9mm, it’s a very easy to wear timepiece. You can even purchase additional excellent but expensive LV color straps. In all, a very fun and elegant travel companion.

And the winner of the 2016 Best Worldtimer Watch in the Luxury Tier ($5,000 to $9,999) is…

Winner by the narrowest margin is the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710BLNR. Skeptic may say it’s a loaded comparison because I already own this watch. However, I’m actually looking to add another GMT/timezoner/worldtimer to my collection and was biased toward the Mont Blanc and the NOMOS.

Leather Watch Roll

It’s a second-place tie between the NOMOS and the unexpected Grand Seiko. The NOMOS has the best combination of dial design and movement finish, outer/inner beauty. Something you can proudly wear on #CasebackThursday. The Grand Seiko is not that far off although dial design might be too austere for some. However, it’s Rolex caliber case and wonderful movement finish that you can also show off on #CasebackThursday makes it a win.

If you’re looking for classically beautiful true worldtime with strong wrist presence, you can’t go wrong with the Mont Blanc. At the lower end of the price spectrum, you do get quite a lot of watch for the money. LV Escale Time Zone offers equally strong wrist presence in a design that can’t be mistaken for anything else (except perhaps its older sibling which cost 10 times more). I especially love its very thing profile. If you’re leaning more toward a more sporty pilot worldtime look you have the IWC.

Finally, I can’t forget my first love, the Rolex Explorer ii. Perhaps it’s sentiment in my advancing years but I won’t mind reacquiring this particular Rolex again in the near future. While no perfect world time watch exist at any price point, you really can’t go wrong with any of the contenders in this round-up. Do shop wisely (but do shop from reputable dealer please or penny save will result in penny saved pound foolish) since you can get some of these watches at very reasonable discount from retail.

Price USD Resell Value Practicality Movement Prestige/Respect Emotive Total Score
NOMOS Zurich Worldtimer

$6,100

7

8

9

8

8

40

Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum Worldtimer

$6,600

6

8

7

7

9

37

Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710BLNR

$9,895

9

8

7

9

8

41

Grand Seiko

$7,250

7

8

9

8

8

40

Rolex Explorer II Ref 21650

$8,100

7

9

7

8

8

39

LV Escale Time Zone

$7,700

6

8

7

7.5

8.5

37

IWC Pilot’s Worldtimer

$9,650

6

8

7

8

8

37

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