Timepieces that inspire exploration
Man’s dream has always been to fly. And when he learned to do so, he found that he could quickly reach foreign countries by flying. And this caused a prime problem, namely, that of having to track time in different places in the world at the same time – for example, in our home country and in the country where we are at that very moment.
And so, someone – an airplane pilot – invented the concept of the watch that shows two timezones at the same time. The concept “landed”, making dual time watches popular. Shall we find out which are the best watches of this type?
03/14/23 Update: We’ve just updated our article, and this article now is now updated with 15 best GMT watches for 2023!
Which were the first GMT watches?
Everyone thinks that this mode of timekeeping was invented by Rolex in 1954, with its famous GMT Master “Pepsi.” But, in fact, there is a much different and lesser-known watch that instead launched this timekeeping system in 1953, and that is the Glycine Airman.
The Airman is distinctive in that it adopts a dial divided into 24 hours, not 12, as is usually the case. This makes it possible to determine whether it is day or night because the watch has an external bezel that can be rotated and set to a particular period to reference local time, taking into account timezones. In this way, the watch can show two timezones simultaneously.
The solution introduced in the Rolex GMT Master is more sophisticated: the watch has a second hour hand, calibrated to run on 24 hours and not 12, that marks the time with reference to an external bezel that can rotate, while the hour hand continues to indicate the time as usual – in a 12 hours reference. Nowadays, the majority of GMT watches use this latter system to keep the time. Still, the Glycine Airman continues to be produced with its intriguing design, so unique and distinctive, even today after almost 70 years.
What are the best GMT watches fo 2022?
As in any case, it is virtually impossible to determine which is the best watch of this type in absolute terms. The only way to define it is to assess what is the best timepiece featuring this complication, or at the very least, a watch that we consider noteworthy, with these characteristics aimed at a specific market. That is why we have rounded up a selection of GMT watches, comprising timepieces from established brands and microbrands, among which you will probably be able to find one that meets your needs.
1 – Best GMT watch under $1,000 – Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT
Christopher Ward is a British Maison that has made a name for itself lately for its productions, which are of an excellent standard and affordable. So we want to comment on this Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT, a perfect watch for adventure that, thanks to its small size (only 39 mm in diameter), proves ideal for dressing almost any wrist.
It has a pleasant retro style, with an arrow-shaped GMT hand, mounts a Sellita SW300 caliber that provides an impressive 56 hours of power reserve, and offers a water resistance of 150 meters. Its list price is $1,050, but you can often get it in the three figures.
2 – Best GMT watch under $2,000 – Davosa Ternos GMT “Batman”
The Davosa Ternos GMT “Batman” is the Swiss company’s homage to the famous House of the Crown timepiece. But although there is much in common between the two, this model from Davosa succeeds and surprises with its excellent quality of materials, finish, and features for a list price of only $1,400, which considering the overall quality of the watch, is really justified.
We are talking about a 42 mm diameter timepiece equipped with automatic movement DAV3032 on a Sellita base and blue/black ceramic bezel with excellent finishing and smooth rotation. What’s more, it belongs to the Ternos series, perhaps the most balanced line in the entire Davosa family. Finally, its 200-meter water resistance makes it perfect even for apnea and leisure diving.
3 – Best GMT watch under $5,000 – Tudor Black Bay GMT
Rolex has shown us that it intends to pursue a policy of quality, which also applies to the group’s cadet line, namely Tudor, whose Black Bay has become something of an obsession in recent years for its undeniable quality and design. Rooted in the vintage Rolex of the 1960s, the Tudor Black Bay GMT “Pepsi” offers a very vintage and fashionable aesthetic and marries it with the proverbial technical quality of timepieces produced by the Geneva-based group.
Its MT5652 movement, encased in the 41mm-diameter case,m is chronometer-certified, is made in-house, and offers an impressive 70 hours of power reserve. In addition, the watch provides as much as 200 meters of water resistance and is offered in several wristband and bracelet configurations, starting at under $5,000.
4 – Best luxury GMT watch – Rolex GMT Master II “Pepsi”
In this category, we cannot but include the archetype of GMT watches, namely the Rolex GMT-Master II “Pepsi” Ref. 126710 BLRO. The nickname comes from the red and blue colors, which have always represented its most popular edition, which has changed little over the years, adapting to the public’s tastes and becoming more and more luxurious, starting from the ceramic bezel to the perfection of the finishing.
This model is sold with a Jubilee steel bracelet, which gives it a more elegant character, and mounts in the 40 mm case a recent and technological movement, caliber 3285, which ensures this timepiece a power reserve of 70 hours, with Superlative Chronometer precision. The Maison’s list price would be under $10,000, but everyone knows that this model’s waiting list is very long, and the ticket to get one quickly costs around $5,000 more.
5 – Best quartz GMT watch – Victorinox Field Force GMT
If you want a Swiss watch with a GMT function that is good-looking, ready for everything and provides an excellent presence on your wrist without spending a fortune, The Victorinox Field Force GMT is definitely for you – and doesn’t set you back more than $400. It is a reasonably large (42 mm) and solid-looking timepiece, offering a dial with highly visible indicators decorated with the famous red Helvetic cross logo.
It mounts a sturdy and precise Ronda movement complete with a date indicator – an industry standard among quartz watches – and offers a water resistance of 100 meters, so you don’t have to worry if it gets wet. In short: a perfect companion for all your adventures, at a very reasonable price.
6 – Best automatic GMT watch – Yema Navygraf Marine
Many GMTs are automatic watches, and this is no exception. The Yema Navygraf Marine is a beautiful GMT watch that shows the potential of the French company, which designed it for the needs of the French Navy. And it is a handsome, sporty, practical watch that wins you with its character. The Navygraf Marine has a beautiful deep blue dial with white indexes and a 39 mm case inside, which houses an in-house caliber, the Yema3000, with 42 hours of power reserve.
The watch offers professional features, such as water resistance of as much as 300 meters, and a very attractive list price of just over $1,000, which makes it appealing to all fans of this type of complication.
7 – Best diver GMT watch – Squale 1545 GMT
For a long time, savvy practicioners have associated the idea of professional diver watches with a small but important brand, Squale, that has always been a reference in this field. And again today, timepieces from this Maison don’t skip a beat. The Squale 1545 GMT (called “Giramondo” – globetrotter) is a GMT watch with the performance of a professional diver – 300 meters of water resistance – and a design that comes straight from a model of the Maison from the 1960s.
If we add that this timepiece mounts a Swiss Made ETA 2893-2 automatic movement with GMT in and date function and more than 50 hours of power reserve in its 42 mm case and is available for a figure of about $950, we know that many among you will raise your antennae.
8 – Best vintage GMT watch – Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT
One watch that will catch your eye at first glance is this homage produced by a house that has become famous for this type of production, namely Steinhart. The German house has chosen to make this Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT, which echoes the legendary 1970s Rolex Explorer II line. It has a diameter of 42 mm and a beautiful black dial on which the baton hour markers and GMT hand arrow in orange color stand out.
The Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT mounts a Sellita SW330 movement with 38 hours of power reserve, offers a water resistance of as much as 300 meters, and can be ordered from the manufacturer for only $550-a great temptation placing it among the most affordable watches of our selection.
9 – Best dress GMT watch – Chopard L.U.C. GMT One
A very elegant timepiece, the Chopard L.U.C. GMT One 168579-3001 is a modern rendition of the stereotypical dress watch, combining the most distinguished industrial dress watches aesthetic features with the GMT functionality to produce a magnificent timepiece that cannot fail to catch the eye. In its 38 mm steel case, the Chopard L.U.C. GMT One displays a harmonious and assertive dial, played out on a primary display and a rotating subdial to show the second timezone indication.
The watch mounts an in-house automatic caliber, the L.U.C 01.10-L, visible through the sapphire crystal case back, offers as many as 60 hours of power reserve and a 5-position regulated movement. This champ in mens GMT watches is an assertive watch for people who don’t have to follow fashion, this classy timepiece is available for about $10,000.
10 – Best pilot GMT watch – Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage GMT
We really like this model from Alpina – a historic Swiss company now part of the Citizen Group – the Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage GMT. Its 42mm cushion case is reminiscent of WWII military watches. The GMT timezone is read via an inner disc on the rotating dial, showing the time on a Supercompressor-style outer bezel, which can be adjusted thanks to a dedicated crown.
In summary, it doesn’t look like a GMT, but it is. It mounts a robust AL-555 automatic movement on a Sellita base, with 38 hours of power reserve, water resistance of 100 meters – and costs roughly $1,500.
11 – Best small GMT watch – Glycine Airman No. 1
A watch that faithfully reproduces the first GMT ever created in the world is this Glycine Airman No. 1, an authentic reissue of the classic that started the fashion for GMT watches. The watch is faithfully reproduced, starting with its small size, precisely 36 mm in diameter, and the design of the dial, which faithfully features the same indications, graphics, and lettering of the first Airman ever produced.
Of course, the movement is different: today, it is a Sellita and no longer a Felsa or AS Schild, but the charm of this piece of history continues to be undeniable. This model is no longer in production but can be found on the second wrist market for less than $1,000.
12 – Best chronograph GMT watch – Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT
The Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT is a true aviation classic. This is a watch that has made history in the skies and trans-Atlantic routes, a genuine old-school tool watch equipped with a chronograph and a GMT function. Over the years, the Maison has modified and repurposed it to suit the tastes of its audience, culminating in this version, which has a diameter of 44 mm, and is a golden standard in chronograph watches devoted to airline use.
Despite the very complex dial bristling with functions, this version of the Chronomat is surprisingly straightforward in operation, and the movement, a B04 caliber with column wheel and GMT function, proves precise and smooth in its operation. In addition, the watch is large and solid and offers 200 meters of water resistance — the list price is about $9,800.
13 – Best Seiko GMT watch – Grand Seiko SBGE201 Spring Drive
Indeed, this is not the Seiko you might expect. The Grand Seiko SBGE201 GMT Spring Drive combines all the quality of the Japanese Maison’s high-end watches with the advanced technology of its Spring Drive movement. This hybrid mechanical movement combines an electronic control system for virtually absolute precision, superior to traditional mechanical movements.
It is an important watch, at 44 mm in diameter, but it fits perfectly on the wrist and displays incredible quality in every detail. It offers a water resistance of 200 meters. It has a hefty list price, as do its features, but its $5,700 list price is worth it all.
14 – Best titanium GMT watch – Bremont Supermarine Descent II
The Bremont Supermarine Descent II is an excellent model from the British manufacturer that combines the features of a true diver (an impressive 500 meters of water resistance) with GMT function and a helium release valve with a very light 43 mm titanium case.
It has a contrasting bronze bezel and is offered with a powder blue technical rubber strap.
The watch mounts the in-house automatic caliber BE-93-2AV, with COSC chronometer certification and 42 hours of power reserve. A timepiece of great character, available at a list price of just under $5,000.
15 – Best Casio GMT watch – Casio G-Shock GW M5610
When we talk about GMT watches, we often forget that there are not only “traditional” analog watches. Several timepieces offer complex GMT functions, such as quarter-hour differences of certain places on earth.
And one of these is one of the best-known Casio watches, the G-Shock, namely the Casio G-Shock GW M5610. In addition to being virtually indestructible (the G-Shock is one of the most widely used watches in the armed forces around the world), with its 200 meters of water resistance and ability to withstand falls from more than twenty meters in height, it has a solar accumulator that makes it practically eternal, and in addition, has the virtue of costing very little: less than $200.
As you can see, the complication that allows us to consult two timezones simultaneously has declined in various ways, producing extremely elegant or technical watches, and is still a favorite among global travelers.
In fact, from a philosophical point of view, it is nice to know that, down there somewhere, everything we left behind continues to be there and flow precisely as we left it: it is a reassuring concept that makes us remember that we have roots, and how strong those roots are. And even if we detach from them for some time, we cannot forget them.