World time watches tell a story of wealth and power

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Using a world time watch — a timepiece with global cities arrayed around the dial or bezel, one per timezone — to find what the hour is in, say, Denver or Dubai is one thing. But we can learn much from these watches about history, politics and economics if we look at them in the right way.

That is why the Financial Times has examined 25 world time watches, dating from a 1951 Breitling to 2016 models by Vacheron Constantin, Louis Vuitton and IWC Schaffhausen. We fed all the cities on the watches’ dials and bezels into our system and came up with two lists: the places most mentioned on watches between 1951 and 1971, and those most mentioned between 2005 and 2016. You can see the results of this endeavour in the graphic below, the earlier ring on the inside, the later on the outside.

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This is for more than curiosity. Given the relationship between these watches and wealth — their cost runs into the tens of thousands of pounds — we expected the cities chosen would reflect where wealth has grown and diminished.

And so it has proved. Some cities have remained constant in wealth and on watches: London, Tokyo, Sydney, New York and Rio de Janeiro are all six-decade stalwarts. But there are many more replacements: Baghdad has given way to Moscow, Réunion to Dubai, Bombay to Karachi, San Francisco to Los Angeles.

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2011 Vacheron Constantin

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1960 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Memovox64e2157c-2790-11e6-8ba3-cdd781d02d89.img

 

1992 Porsche design by IWC1355966a-2791-11e6-8ba3-cdd781d02d89.img

1992 Porsche design by IWC
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1951 Breitling Unitime
04150e74-2791-11e6-8ba3-cdd781d02d89.img1992 Porsche design by IWC

 

World time watches tell a story of wealth and power Clip

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