Q&A: IWC’s Thomas Gaümann on tracking time zones


IWC Schaffhausen head of R&D movement Thomas Gaümann takes to the spotlight, talking about IWC’s travel-friendly watch offer.

WatchPro: How important is a decent travel-friendly watch offer and why are they so popular with consumers?
Thomas Gaümann:
Especially for people who travel the globe, such as pilots, Formula 1 drivers, as well as frequent flyers and international business people who communicate around the world, it is becoming increasingly important to keep track of what is happening in different time zones. Therefore, a watch that includes additional time zones is a very helpful function to keep track of things when moving continuously from one continent to another.

The new Ingenieur Dual Time Titanium by IWC Schaffhausen takes the hard work out of it by showing a second local time of the wearer’s choice. On the dial we see the current local time. This can be advanced or moved back in one-hour steps, even beyond the International Date Line. While the white-tipped seconds hand relentlessly circuits the dial, the white triangle in the outer 24-hour ring shows a second time and ensures that the wearer’s home time is always visible. To make it easier to differentiate between day and night, the upper half, from 6pm to 6 am is darker than the lower half.

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The Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer has a 24-hour ring that enables the wearer to look at all 24 time zones, including the Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). The city ring shows the names of 23 places around the globe, each of which represents a time zone. The dial shows local time, which can be adjusted forwards or backwards in one-hour steps – also when crossing the International Date Line.

WP: Are consumers’ demands from travel-friendly watches greater these days and what functionality do they seek?
: The user is seeking a watch, which is readable at a glance and can be set quickly and easily. The IWC Worldtimer und the Ingenieur Dual Time Titanium can be set quickly and easily using the crown. On the dial, the current local time is indicated. If the wearer passes through one or several time zones, the time can be turned back or advanced in one-hour steps to show the new local time, even when crossing the International Date Line.

WP: What do you know of the history of travel watches and how they have evolved over time?
In the history of technology, some problems have taken a great deal of time to solve, occasionally in the most literal sense of the word. The introduction of Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) is a perfect example. It was only from the mid-18th century that local time in Greenwich, near London, became the standard for astronomical navigation. Around 100 years later, in 1884, the International Meridian Conference divided the earth into 24 time zones. These start with the prime meridian, which runs through Greenwich Observatory. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) became the legally accepted standard time. Curiously enough, each new day begins at 12 noon because astronomers, who tend to work at night, have little inclination to change the date in the middle of their calculations. Nevertheless, most people prefer it if the new day begins at midnight. After experimenting with other time scales, agreement was finally reached in 1972 on the introduction of UTC. This is the currently prevailing world time: the time by which everything is measured in this global village of ours. And for many people, it is enormously important – for pilots and travellers who change continents and time zones in rapid succession, and for business people who communicate with colleagues all over the world. In 1998, IWC Schaffhausen unveiled its first model with two time zones designed specially for contemporary globetrotters: the Pilot’s Watch UTC. It shows world time in a window on the dial with a 24-hour display.

This interview was part of a travel-friendly watch article that first appeared in the October issue of WatchPro magazine. To see the full digital version of the magazine, click here.

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