This much-travelled triple time-zone model by Carl F. Bucherer has been circling the globe for 10 years and has now become a familiar sight on the watchmaking scene – where it had to assert itself quite forcefully in that COSC-certified models providing this particular function were definitely not legion at the time. The triple time zone is indeed a category that Carl F. Bucherer has done much to enrich, to the point of basically forging its 21st century identity.
Nonetheless, the apparent stability of the TravelTec collection conceals substantial evolutions, while its user-friendly nature entails a wealth of ingenuity. Very few people realise that this timepiece has played a crucial role in forging the stature of Carl F. Bucherer as a bona fide Manufacture.
The forerunner of the TravelTec was called the TravelGraph, a model that is still part of the collection and features an architecture closely akin to that of its heir: a chronometer with date and dual-time display. While the difference with the TravelTec may thus seem minimal, ‘merely’ involving adding a time zone, these evolutions were to durably shape the destiny of Carl F. Bucherer.
First steps with THA
In the late 1990s, the brand relied on the competence and reliability of ETA, mainly by using a considerably reworked version of the 2892 base calibre. In 1998, when Carl F. Bucherer expressed its intention of adding a second time zone to its TravelGraph, its partner ETA recommended that it consult an expert on this type of development: a firm named THA, standing for Techniques Horlogères Appliquées (Applied Watchmaking Technologies). While the two companies were not previously acquainted with each other, their cooperation gave rise to a dual-time chronograph calibre in 2001 and the story did not end there.
Carl F. Bucherer soon decided to take things up a notch by offering a third time zone, leading to a complex new construction named Calibre 1901, which was to power the evolved version of the TravelGraph: the TravelTec, duly launched in 2005.
"The Manufacture Carl F. Bucherer was founded on the TravelTec project"
Meanwhile, the professional understanding established between Carl. F. Bucherer and THA was such that it opened up unexpected prospects of further collaborative endeavours. And the rest, as they say, is history. Following these developments, the brand became a regular client of THA which it ended up incorporating within its own corporate structure, leading to the birth of the Manufacture Carl F. Bucherer founded on the joint TravelTec project.
An innovative construction
This calibre brought with it a certain number of major technical breakthroughs for the time-zone complication. Carl F. Bucherer developed an entirely in-house-made new decoupling and fast-adjustment module, based on a 24-hour indication of a first time zone (hometime) by a red hand; a second time zone shown by traditional central hands; and a third directly driven via the case and shown by the red hand pointing to a dedicated 24-hour mobile inner bezel ring.
It was the latter time zone that called for the addition of a single pusher at 10 o’clock, which Carl F. Bucherer once again wanted to make as intuitive as possible: moving the display eastwards in one direction and westwards in the other. Adjusting the main time zone is equally simple, since the single crown moves it in either direction, while also driving the date. In concrete terms, this means that the traveller can set the hours backwards (and not just forwards) as desired and that the date will also move back accordingly.
Over and above the technical side of things, the TravelTec also distinguished itself on an aesthetic level, since Carl F. Bucherer opened the case in such a way as to reveal a section of the Manufacture-made complication. This type of side opening is particularly rare in the watch industry and serves to both see and understand exactly how the third time hone is directly integrated into the case.
The end of this first decade of the TravelTec also opens up a whole new era embodied by the TravelTec II, a model recently unveiled at Baselworld and which represents an optimised version of the TravelTec, since the third time zone is now directly engraved on the bezel. This means the double inner bezel ring is replaced by a single one, thereby making read-off even clearer and easier.