GMT Watch: The Perfect Timepiece For the Globetrotter

Apr 03, 2020
GMT Watch: The Perfect Timepiece For the Globetrotter

A lot of people have been bitten by the travel bug. Well, we can’t blame them. After all, it’s fun to jump from one country to another. Travelling can be exciting; however, it has its own drawbacks. Aside from the jet lag, it can be tiring to adjust to the different time zones. And if you’re a watch person, winding your timepiece over and over again can be a chore. Thankfully, a GMT watch will solve your problems.

The GMT is one of the most useful and popular watch complications. With that said, below is an explanation of what a GMT watch is. Along with an explanation on why it is a good investment not only for the jet-setters, but also for those who need to keep track of another time zone.

GMT watch
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

What is a GMT watch?

Basically, a GMT watch is a timepiece that has a 24-hour format. It also has an extra hand which is called the GMT hand. That is in addition to the hour, minute, and seconds hand. This extra hand indicates a second time zone.

While a lot of GMT watches tell two different time zones, others can display more. One example is the Breitling Avenger II GMT Watch, which can tell a total of three time zones.

What was the first GMT watch?

Here’s an interesting thing about GMT watches. It was originally invented for pilots and flight crew who need to take note of two different time zones at once. 

In fact, the first-ever GMT watch was made by Rolex in collaboration with Pan Am Airways in 1954. That watch was called the GMT Master 6542. This watch is the direct ancestor of the now-famous Rolex GMT Master II.

Who should buy the GMT watch?

The GMT watch was originally made for travellers who frequently jump from one time zone to another. However, needs evolve and more and more people are starting to find the second time zone feature useful.

Apart from the globetrotters, the GMT complication can be useful to people who are in constant communication with someone from the other side of the world. One example is when you are living in California but you always have to be on a video call with a client who lives in New York. Or when a significant other lives in Europe when you’re in the US.

Our Recommended 16 Best GMT Watches

Here are some of our recommended GMT watches. So before you go hail a taxi to the airport, make sure you have one of these strapped on your wrist!

Rolex GMT Master II, GMT Watches

1. Rolex GMT Master II

Why is it good?

Number one on this list is the most sought-after GMT watch. And I’ll bet my bottom dollar that even a random stranger that you’ll meet on the street will recognise the Rolex GMT Master II.

It is one of the most reliable GMT watches that you can find. To illustrate, it is powered by the Calibre 3285. It’s a new-generation movement that’s manufactured by Rolex. A few of its features are a 70-hour power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, and high precision.

Aside from performance, the aesthetic of the GMT Master II is top-notch. It even continues the age-old question of “Pepsi or Coke?” Yes, two of their most iconic colour schemes come in red-blue and red-black. In addition to that, the GMT Master II is also available in a black-blue combination called the “Batman”.

To conclude, this model is well respected in the watch community. Whether you’re a watch enthusiast or not, you can never go wrong with it.

Rolex GMT Master II specs:

  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 70 hours
  • Dimensions: 40mm
  • Water resistance: 100m

Tudor Black Bay GMT, GMT Watches

2. Tudor Black Bay GMT

Why is it good?

The Tudor Black Bay GMT can be considered as the previous watch’s little sibling. In fact, Tudor is a sister company of Rolex.

When it comes to performance, you can count on Black Bay GMT. It is fitted with the MT5652, which is COSC-certified. It ticks at 4Hz, offers a silicon balance spring, and can pump up to 70 hours of power reserve.

Following the footsteps of the GMT Master II, this baby is also available in a Pepsi colourway. But Tudor put their own twist to it. The Black Bay GMT is low-key with its matte, desaturated finish. Its colour blue also has a darker shade compared to the other watch.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Rolex GMT Master II, this is your best bet. It is easier to find and significantly cheaper without sacrificing quality.

Tudor Black Bay GMT specs:

  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 70 hours
  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Water resistance: 200m

Steinhart GMT Ocean One, GMT Watches

3. Steinhart GMT Ocean One

Why is it good?

Here’s another affordable alternative to the Rolex GMT watch. The Steinhart GMT Ocean One is considered a homage watch to the previous one. What this means is that its design is heavily inspired by the GMT Master II. Honestly, from afar, it’s hard to spot the difference between the two.

It uses a Swiss-ETA movement that can squeeze in 42 hours of power reserve. The calibre runs at 21 jewels and 28,000 BPH. This is widely considered as a reliable and accurate movement.

This watch is hard to beat if you adore the Rolex GMT Master II minus the hefty price tag.

Steinhart GMT Ocean One specs:

  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Water resistance: 300m
A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia Dual Time, GMT Watches
Photo from A. Lange & Sohne

4. A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia Dual Time

Why is it good?

While a GMT watch is typically cluttered with numbers, the Saxonia Dual Time from A. Lange & Sohne remains simple. In fact, it is one of the most elegant watches around. It can even double as a dress watch.

When you flip it over, the crystal caseback lets you admire the fine craftsmanship of the watch. And as expected from a luxury German brand, the Saxonia Dual Time has an in-house L086.2 automatic calibre. It has a whopping 286 components. Included are Glashutte-style blued screws, pink rubies,  hand-engraved balance cock, and a three-quarter plate.

If you’re looking for a GMT watch that will also look good with a suit, the Saxonia Dual Time should be on top of your list.

Lange & Sohne Saxonia Dual Time specs:

  • Case: Gold
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Dimensions: 38.4mm
  • Water resistance: 30m

Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time

5. Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time

Why is it good?

The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time combines the best of a pilot’s watch and a GMT watch. What’s impressive about this model is that it looks like a time-only wristwatch at first glance. Thus, retaining the brand’s signature classic and elegant look.

But if you look closely at the chocolate dial, you’ll notice that there’s a white skeletonised hour hand. This indicates the home time. Meanwhile, the local time comes in blue, cathedral-style hands.

Inside, it is powered by the calibre CH 324 S C FUS. This ensures an accuracy rate of -3/+2 seconds per day. 

No matter where you’re going, this watch is considered as the ultimate traveller’s companion. So don’t forget to bring it with you on your next adventure!

Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time specs:

  • Case: White gold
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 45 hours
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Water resistance: 60m

Breitling Navitimer GMT, GMT Watches

6. Breitling Navitimer GMT

Why is it good?

Yes, the Breitling Navitimer GMT can do a lot of things. And one of those is having a dual timezone system.

Apart from the GMT, the watch packs a ton of features like a chronograph and Breitling’s iconic circular slide rule for onboard calculations. But despite its cluttered dial, it remains readable.

That’s not all. If you flip it over, you’ll see a surprise waiting for you. The caseback is engraved with the time zones of the world’s major cities. This is especially entertaining to look at while waiting to board your plane.

Breitling Navitimer specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Dimensions: 46mm
  • Water resistance: 30m

Nomos Zurich World Time, GMT Watches

7. Nomos Zurich World Time

Why is it good?

The Nomos Zurich World Time (or the Weltzeit, if you’d like to call it in its German name) is another excellent GMT watch. One look at its dial and you know that it can give you the time from London to Honolulu.

Despite its busy dial, a lot of people swear that it’s one of the easiest GMT watches to read. To adjust the local time, one just has to push the button at the 2 o’clock position.

It is built on the DUW 5201 calibre which can squeeze up to 42 hours of power reserve. With Nomos’ Swing System, this watch tells the time of 24 time zones with precision and accuracy.

Nomos Zurich World Time specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Dimensions: 39.9mm
  • Water resistance: 30m

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time

8. Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time

Why is it good?

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time boasts a very unique dial layout. Beside the 9 o’clock marker, there’s an AM/PM indicator. Meanwhile, there’s a medium-sized date counter that occupies the 6 o’clock position.

If you flip the watch over, you can admire the movement through the sapphire crystal caseback. Its automatic calibre 5110DT has 234 components, of which 37 of those are jewels. 

Like the other versions of the Overseas, the Dual Time features the special interlocking bracelet system. What this means is that you can change your watch’s strap without using tools. Attending a meeting at 4? Quickly change it to a leather strap. Going out for an adventure this weekend? You can replace the strap with a metal bracelet in an instant.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 60 hours
  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Water resistance: 150m

Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT, GMT Watches

9. Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT

Why is it good?

The Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT will take you from one time zone to another with just a single push of a button. It is the ideal watch for thrill lovers, as exhibited by its bulky size and busy dial.

Like the other Hublot models, this one bears an open-worked dial. One of the time zones is printed over the crystal. Meanwhile, the other time zone is engraved on the bezel. The main hand points at the local time. On the other hand (pun intended), a thick arrow-shaped hand indicates the home time using a 12-hour display. 

Furthermore, there’s a blue and silver coloured disc located at the inner dial. The user should only look at whether the hand is pointing at the silver (indicates AM) or blue (indicates PM) part to know if it’s during the day or night.

Inside, it is powered by Hublot’s Calibre HUB 1251. This movement is composed of 358 pieces and runs at a 28,800-vph frequency.

Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Dimensions: 45mm
  • Water resistance: 100m

Timex Allied Three GMT, GMT Watches

10. Timex Allied Three GMT

Why is it good?

A GMT watch can fetch a huge amount of money. But if you’re looking for an affordable but high-quality one, check out the Timex Allied Three GMT. It tells not just two, but three different time zones!

But reading three time zones on a 43-mm watch might sound confusing. Not at all! The illuminated leaf-shaped hands tell the local time. Meanwhile, you can read the two other timezones using the orange skeletonised GMT hand and the 24-hour rotating day/night bezel. 

As expected of Timex, the dial remains easy to read. In addition to the glow-in-the-dark hands, the dial is also applied with their Indiglo. One push of the button and you’ll admire the illumination of the whole dial.

The Timex Allied Three GMT comes in a blue and black colour scheme, which makes it an excellent alternative to the Rolex Batman. With its very tempting price tag, the Timex Allied Three GMT is very hard to beat.

Timex Allied Three GMT specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Power reserve: n/a
  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Water resistance: 100m

Nomos Tangomat GMT, GMT Watches

11. Nomos Tangomat GMT

Why is it good?

If you’re a fan of Nomos but find the World Timer too cluttered, check out the Nomos Tangomat GMT. It retains Nomos’ signature Bauhaus look while giving you two time zones.

Its dial looks like a normal Tangomat with the addition of the current city window at the 9 o’clock position. Apart from that, it also has a window that displays the home time zone.

When it comes to the movement, it uses the same calibre as the Nomos Zurich World Time — calibre DUW 5201. It is fully in-house and is a very accurate and precise movement.

The Nomos Tangomat GMT is perfect for people who need the dual time zone complication but want a minimalistic dial.

Nomos Tangomat GMT specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 43 hours
  • Dimensions: 40mm
  • Water resistance: 30m

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT, GMT Watches

12. Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT Watch

Why is it good?

A GMT watch list will not be complete without the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT. Omega’s well-respected tool watch just got better! It has a very modern aesthetic that will appeal to a wide range of audience.

In addition to its diving capabilities, it also has a dual-time zone function that is easy to read. Thanks to the bright orange GMT hand that contrasts well against the black background. Apart from that, the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock numerals are in Arabic, making the watch more legible.

The self-winding Calibre Omega 8605 is with Co-Axial escapement and stores a power reserve of 60 hours. This movement can be admired at the back of the watch with its transparent case back.

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT Watch specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 60 hours
  • Dimensions: 43.5mm
  • Water resistance: 600m

Chopard LUC GMT One, GMT Watches

13. Chopard L.U.C. GMT One

Why is it good?

The Chopard L.U.C. GMT One is one of the most elegant GMT watches. It comes in a black-grey-orange colour scheme. On the outer ring of the dial, you can see the hour markers for the second time zone. Meanwhile, there is a date window that occupies the 6 o’clock position.

Inside the watch, there is the 01.10-L movement. This self-winding calibre is chronometer-certified and can power the timepiece for at least 60 hours.

Its elegant dial paired with a black leather strap will go well with a blazer and a sports coat. Indeed, it is the perfect companion for your next business trip.

Chopard LUC GMT One specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 60 hours
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Water resistance: 50m

Oris Aquis GMT, GMT Watch

14. Oris Aquis GMT

Why is it good?

Can’t choose between a diver and a GMT watch? Why not get both! The Oris Aquis GMT made it possible. It has the looks and specifications of a diver watch with the addition of the GMT.

Inside, the movement is called the Oris 798. It is self-winding and was based on the Sellita SW330-1. Furthermore, it has Incabloc shock absorption to ensure durability.

Its bezel is a rotatable GMT bezel. Meanwhile, the dial comes in a dark blue colour that exudes an elegant vibe. And when it comes to the strap, you can choose between metal, rubber, or leather.

The Oris Aquis GMT exhibits a good price-performance ratio. Indeed, it is a GMT watch that will bring a lot of bang for your buck.

Oris Aquis GMT specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Dimensions: 43.5mm
  • Water resistance: 300m

Breitling Avenger II GMT, GMT Watch

15. Breitling Avenger II GMT Watch

Why is it good?

The Breitling Avenger II GMT Watch looks like it was made for adventure. Its durable stainless steel case has a water-resistance of up to 300m. Apart from that, it is equipped with lateral reinforcements. The crown also has a non-slip grip for comfort.

In terms of performance, it is powered by the Breitling 32 calibre. It is certified by the COSC and can power your watch for up to 42 hours when fully wound.

Its time zone display is very practical and easy to read. In addition, the rotating bezel can be turned in both counter-clockwise and clockwise movement. Thus, the user can read a total of three different time zones.

Breitling Avenger II GMT Watch specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Water resistance: 300m

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, GMT Watch

16. Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time

Why is it good?

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time keeps it simple. In fact, a lot of people think that it is one of the most user-friendly GMT watches.

Like the Patek Philippe Calatrava on this list, this one is equipped with the Calibre 324 S C FUS. It has a total of 294 parts, 29 jewels. In addition to that, it can squeeze up to a total of 45 hours for the watch’s power reserve.

Patek Philippe has always targeted a younger audience for the Aquanaut. The same goes for this version. Thus, this version is ideal for those who want a GMT watch with a very playful and chic design.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time specs:

  • Case: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 45 hours
  • Dimensions: 40.8mm
  • Water resistance: 120m

Final Notes

The invention of the GMT complication is a breakthrough in the history of horology. It has proven to be very useful not only to watch enthusiasts but to a majority of people. In fact, one of the most popular timepieces (the Rolex GMT Master II) is a GMT watch.

With that said, one can never go wrong with a GMT watch. Whether you’re looking for the 100th watch in your collection or just looking for a watch that can keep up with your daily activities.

While you’re at it, check out our review on Seiko’s powerful dive watch the Seiko Samurai!

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