Carl F. Bucherer has been retailing watches since 1919, and in 2008, the firm introduced its own manufacture calibre, the CFB A1000 self-winding movement –one of the very few automatic movements in production powered by a peripheral rotor.
For many enthusiasts, the CFB A1000 movement and its variants are the cornerstone of the Bucherer watch collections but the company also makes a number of watches using outsourced movements that have quite interesting features of their own. One of our favorites, and one of Carl F. Bucherer’s most recognized models since its introduction in 2006, is the Patravi TravelTec FourX, which we’ve recently been able to take for a spin on the wrist thanks to CFB.
This is a large watch –46.6mm x 15.5, and the bulk of that is the platinum-family metal palladium, so it’s got quite a bit of heft. That said, it’s well balanced, with a thick, rugged rubber strap and very solidly built matching tang buckle. There’s a ceramic bezel to guard against accidental injury (to the watch, not you; the ceramic contrasts nicely with the icy coolness of palladium) and the size also accomodates the Patravi TravelTec FourX’s most distinctive feature, which is a mechanism for the rotating inner bezel that lets you set it either forwards or backwards via a locking pusher at 10:00, about which more in a minute.
The TravelTec FourX was basically designed to be the ultimate practical travel watch, and it’s designed to be durable, good looking, and useful as well. If you look closely, you’ll see two 24 hour inner bezels –the innermost one can be made to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise with the pusher at 10:00, while the outer is fixed. There is also a red, triangle tipped 24 hour hand.
Here’s how it works. First, you make sure that the hour hand and 24 hour hand are synched for your home time location. When you travel, you use the crown to re-set the hour hand –which moves forwards or backwards in one hour increments –with the crown. The hour hand now shows local time and the red 24 hour hand shows home time (on a 24 hour scale so you don’t need a day/night indicator.)
If you want to know the time in a 3rd time zone, you can use the pusher at 10:00. Turn it to “W” or “E” depending on whether the 3rd time zone is east or west of your location. Press the pusher for the number of hours the third time zone is ahead or behind you (there is a convenient engraving on the back showing 24 reference cities and their offset from GMT to help out.) The 24 hour hand can now be used to read off both home time (off the fixed out 24 hour bezel) and the third time zone (from the rotating inner bezel.) The additional mechanism for allowing pusher actuated rotation of the innermost bezel is integrated into the (very complex) case and you can see it through a sapphire window in the case flank, just under the pusher and locking crown.
On top of everything else, it’s also a three register chronograph, with the date in red in a cyclops window between 4-5:00. There’s no quickset for the date per se but you can set the date simply by changing the hour hand position, which lets you set the date either forwards or backwards.
The one issue one might have with the watch is legibility –there’s quite a lot of information on display and the dial is transparent, which makes for a great, multilayered visual effect but does take a little getting used to. I’ve flown several times with the watch provided for review by CFB and in practice, I didn’t find information read-off much of an issue at all (even in a dark cabin on a redeye to Geneva.) Besides, this is clearly a watch for the kind of person who finds mechanical intricacy attractive. It’s perfect for someone who travels a lot and is a bit obsessive about time –the guy who likes to know what’s going on in multiple time zones, who maybe also enjoys timing the flight just to see if the announced flight time was accurate, and who wants a very sporty, tough watch on which to keep track of everything. The Patravi TravelTec FourX has since it was introduced carved out a very comfortable niche for itself as one of the most useful and interesting travel watches out there right now.
The Carl F. Bucherer Patravi TravelTec FourX, in palladium, with ceramic bezel and titanium pushers. Locking crown at 10:00 for setting the 3rd time zone inner bezel. Case 46.6×15.5mm; offered on a rubber strap with titanium pin buckle. Caseback engraved with 24 timezone reference cities; water resistant to 50 meters. Movement, Carl F. Bucherer calibre 1901.1, certified chronometer, self-winding with 42 hour power reserve.