GMT or Greenwich Mean Time is the average solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, in the UK and is used to calculate the time zones around the world. Necessity is the mother of invention, and with the advent of air travel, that required pilots to cross several time-zones in a relatively short span of time, thereby needing to accurately track the time at both their original location as well as their destination, the immensely practical GMT Watches were born.
Across the World
One of the first watches to feature a GMT complication can be attributed to Rolex, the brand that symbolizes the epitome of excellence in fine watchmaking. Approached by air-travel pioneers Pan-Am to find a solution to the problem of tracking time in two time-zones, Rolex created the GMT-Master in 1954.
A GMT watch typically includes an additional hour-hand on the dial, a 24-hour hand, which travels around the dial once a day, as opposed to twice a day like the normal 12-hour hand. This is possible due to the complication within the movement of the timepiece itself. The 24-hour hand may be in in a different colour to the regular hour-hand and is often arrow-shaped.
In addition to the extra hour hand, the bezel of most GMT watches display 24 markings to show 24-hours in the day. The bezel also rotates to allow the wearer to select their second time-zone by moving clockwise or anti-clockwise based on whether the second time-zone is to the East or to the West of GMT. Newer GMT watches may also have a 24-hour scale on the dial as well as on the bezel, allowing the tracking of a third time-zone.
While a timepiece with a GMT complication seems like a practical one for a pilot or someone who travels frequently, it is also extremely useful to almost anyone with family on the other side of the world, or a job that requires cross-country coordination, both of which are increasingly common in today’s rapidly shrinking world.
Another interesting use of a GMT watch is as a compass, where, if the 24-hour GMT hand is set to local time at a specific location, the 12-hour hand will point due North in the Northern Hemisphere and due South in the Southern Hemisphere. Definitely handy for those with a penchant for exploring the outdoors!
Here is our pick of some of the HOTTEST GMT watches around:
A traditional Complete Calendar timepiece gets a frequent flier upgrade in the Blancpain Villeret Quantième Complet GMT which includes a moonphase indicator as well as the complete calendar and GMT complications. Making its debut at Baselworld 2018, this exceptionally complex timepiece packs a horological powerhouse into an elegant and sophisticated 40mm case, available in either red-gold or stainless steel.
The Villeret Quantième Complet GMT features a first-of-its-kind use of discreet under-lug correctors in a GMT watch, which results in a completely smooth case. Available with a choice of hand-rolled alligator leather strap or metal bracelet to match the material of the case, we’re glad we didn’t miss out on seeing this timepiece at Baselworld!
The unchallenged maestros of exceptional innovation have once again demonstrated that the world, quite literally is their canvas. The new Greubel Forsey GMT Earth is a spectacular piece of horological craftsmanship and has a 3-D model of the Earth, with a 360˚ view on its dial.
The 33-piece limited edition white gold watch can show three time-zones simultaneously and has a world-time disc with 24-time zones visible through the case back. The world-time disc also indicates which time-zones observe daylight saving time.
In addition to its technical complexity, the Greubel Forsey GMT Earth is a beautiful sight to behold. The timepiece features different finishing techniques including polished beveling and a nickel-platinum finish. The bridges of the tourbillon demonstrate the artistic excellence of the master watchmakers with their difficult-to-achieve flat black polishing.
Panerai’s newest addition to the L’Astronomo collection, dedicated to Galileo Galilei, the Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phases Equation of Time GMT is a mechanical marvel with a story to tell. The watch’s in-house P.2005/GLS movement is personalized according to the specific coordinates of a location chosen by the client, and the ‘home-time’ at that place is indicated by the GMT hand.
The timepiece also shows the phases of the moon at the chosen location as well sunrise and sunset in the home time-zone.
The skeletonized dial of the L’Astronomo Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phases Equation of Time GMT expertly showcases the complex movement inside and customers are able to further customize the watch by choosing the material of the case, the colour of the hands and the colour of the alligator strap. The L’Astronomo Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phases Equation of Time GMT comes in either white or red gold, or a sportier titanium model.
ROLEX GMT-Master II
When the Rolex GMT-Master II was introduced in 1982, it modified the previous GMT-Master I to separate the GMT hand from the regular 12-hour hand. The 12-hour hand could now be set independently of the other hands, which made setting the time on the GMT-Master II much easier than on previous GMT watches.
The GMT-Master II allows the wearer to read the time in two separate time-zones at the same time. In addition to the regular hour, minute and seconds hand which indicate the ‘local’ time, the GMT-Master II has a 24-hour GMT hand, a bi-directional rotatable bezel and a 24-hour scale on a Cerachrom ceramic insert. The 24-hour hand can be used to show either the reference or ‘home’ time, when the triangle on the bezel is set to the 12 o’clock position, or an alternate time-zone if the bezel is rotated.
Three new models of the GMT-Master II were unveiled at Baselworld 2018, an Oystersteel version with a blue and red ‘Pepsi’ Cerachrom insert, one entirely in Everose gold, with a black and brown Cerachrom insert and an Everose Rolesor version that combines Everose gold and Oyster steel with the same brown and black insert. Each of the three new GMT-Master II watches would be the perfect addition to any travelers’ collection!
Celebrating the 55th anniversary of the iconic TAG Heuer Carrera collection, which has included the Connected Modular and the new Heuer 02 line of timepieces, TAG Heuer has unveiled a brand-new chronograph, the Carrera Chronograph GMT, equipped, for the first time with a GMT function.
This practical complication allows the second time-zone to be adjusted using the crown, and the striking black and blue ceramic bezel features the 24-hour GMT scale, which is indicated by the red lacquered hand.
The skeletonized dial of the Carrera Chronograph GMT displays the in-house manufacture Heuer 02 automatic chronograph movement. The steel case has a 45mm diameter and is water-resistant up-to 100m making it ideal for the adventurous, jet-setting youth of today.
The newest addition to Tudor’s iconic Black Bay collection, the Black Bay GMT was introduced at Baselworld 2018 and draws inspiration from the original Tudor diving watches and features the same blue and deep burgundy coloured rotatable ceramic bezel as the rest of the Black Bay collection.
The bezel displays a 24-hour scale, with the 12 daylight hours on the red half and the 12 night-time hours on the blue half. The black dial of the Black Bay GMT and luminescent markers ensure perfect legibility even in the dark and the red 24-hour hand is in the iconic Tudor ‘snowflake’ shape.
Presented in a 41mm chic brushed steel case with a matching riveted bracelet, the Black Bay GMT has a newly developed in-house manufacture movement the MT5652, certified as a chronometer and with a 70-hour power reserve. This classic timepiece is also available with a brown leather strap or a black fabric strap with a burgundy band that matches the burgundy half of the bezel.
Relatively simple, but amongst the most practical of all horological complications, the GMT function is one that is gaining popularity with watch enthusiasts and travelers alike. The timepieces on our list of HOT GMT watches range from the straightforward to the exceptional, and any one of them would be the perfect companion to take us all across the world!