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MEN'S FOLIO Malaysia|November 2020
The relevance of the dual-time complication should not be affected by present-day circumstances as it is still a compelling complication to own. We highlight what to look out for when getting one.
Asaph Low

Put simply, a dual-time complication displays two time zones (home and local) simultaneously that can be set independently. Of course, horology never settles for simplicity and so there are competing visions. Berner’s Illustrated Dictionary of Horology shows this perfectly, with two definitions for the dual-time complication:

1. Device permitting display of the time of day in time zones of several selected locations.

2. This device makes it possible to move the hour hand in jumps of one whole hour without interfering with the display of minutes and seconds.

The distinctions here are subtle, but they are quite real. Nevertheless, the multi-time zone watch is highly practical and purposeful for globetrotters and frequent travelers alike. However, it would be most unwise to think of the dual-time complication solely as a tool for travelers. There are, after all, many reasons one might want to know the time in another time zone at a glance.

Business remains global, and we have all experienced the ways that the supply chain is impacted by how interconnected we are. This is especially true in Singapore, a nation that traffics in global trade. Even at WOW, this is relevant because we frequently have to know the time in Switzerland as if we lived and worked there. Wherever you are though, you must be able to liaise effectively with your foreign counterparts. On the more casual side of things, Asian sports fans probably want to know (precisely) the broadcast times of the NBA Championships in their home time zones.

This brings us to another detail that adds unnecessary complexity to dual-time watches: the concept of home time and local time. To clarify, home time is the time in your own time zone, while local time is the time in your current location. However, the two time zones can be whatever you want.

One might argue, and we do acknowledge, that the smartphone has made this task a breeze. Unfortunately, a certain gentleman named Sandford Fleming did not have the luxury of such technology during his travels, nor did he live in an era of standardized time zones.

Sir Fleming had to spend an uncomfortable night in Ireland after missing the train in 1876. His frustration was compounded by having to adjust his watch as he traveled to towns that were separated by several miles at most. It spurred him to write a treatise on the need for a standardized global time which culminated with the 1884 International Meridian Conference discussion held in Washington DC attended by 26 nations.

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