You’ve got your slip-on shoes, your handsome-yet-rugged duffel bag, your comfortable-yet-cool attire, your dopp kit, your tablet, your Nintendo Switch, your noise-canceling headphones, your camera, your guide book and hopefully your passport is in there somewhere. Yes, packing for a trip can seem overwhelming, but you can take solace in the fact that you only need one watch.

So what watch to wear on your globetrotting adventures? Well, traditionally the GMT (or dual time) has been the de facto travel watch ever since it was conceived in the mid-’50s for Pan Am pilots crossing several time zones at once. By allowing the wearer to monitor two separate time zones at once, the GMT frees its wearer from the grueling mental math required when keeping tabs on whatever is going on in your home time zone.

If you demand more time zones at once, you can opt for the world time watch which, though more mechanically complex (and thus more expensive) than the GMT, has actually been around longer, invented by watchmaker Louis Cottier in the 1930s. Here, the watch denotes the current time for every time zone in the world all at once. So if you’re in Tokyo, need to call a client in London and inundate your mother in Chicago with texts about your trip, no arithmetic is required to keep all that in check.

Whichever you choose depends on your own needs (and the state of your bank account), but rest assured there are options aplenty for the jet-setter. The best of them combine value, durability, good looks and, of course, functionality, all into one handy watch — so there’s no need to burden your carry-on any more than you already have.

GMTs

Farer Lander

Farer, a young British upstart, makes watches inspired by those worn by great 20th-century explorers. Naturally, that means the Lander here definitely owes some debts to Smiths and the Rolex Explorer, but the result is nevertheless handsome and distinct. Its automatic movement is housed in a subtle 39.5mm x 10mm case (perfectly proportioned, if you ask us), and it’s paired with a bronze crown and a beautiful blue mid-century-inspired dial design. At $1,425, it’s not quite the cheapest mechanical GMT you can find (it’s damn close, though), but its excellent design makes it a standout in the entry-level price bracket.

Movement: ETA 2893-2
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 39.5mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Monta Skyquest

It can be tough to find a “tool watch” GMT for less than several thousand dollars, but the Skyquest from Monta is certainly a value proposition if ever there were one. For less than $2k you get a steel GMT with 300m of water resistance, automatic Sellita SW330 movement with 42-hour power reserve and jumping GMT hand, steel bracelet or rubber strap designed by sister company Everest Horology Products (plus a very nice Nato), and much more (see our full review here). If you’re looking for a GMT Master II-alternative that you can take in the water and not worry about having to baby, then the Skyquest is likely the watch for you.

Movement: Sellita SW330
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 40.7mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Sinn 857 UTC VFR

If your travels take you to someplace … unforgiving, this is the watch to have. The automatic movement inside is protected by a burly stainless steel case with Sinn’s “Tegiment” case-hardening technology and built to satisfy DIN 8330, a certification for pilot’s watches that Sinn and the German Institute for Standardisation co-developed. As such, the brand states the watch is exceptionally shockproof and can reliably operate at temperatures between -49 degrees and 185 degrees Fahrenheit. And while this is ostensibly a pilot’s watch, given that it has a ratcheting bezel, loads of lume and a 200-meter depth rating means it could easily do double duty as a diver, too.

Movement: ETA 2893-2
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 43mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Oris Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer

Though it says “worldtimer” in the name, this pilot’s watch from Oris is more of an advanced dual-time watch, though it does go a step further than a standard dual-time or GMT in terms of convenience. It displays the wearer’s home time in the three o’clock subdial and the local hours and minutes on the main dial. When you twist the watch’s bezel, it moves the hour hand on the main dial, meaning that when traveling you don’t need to fiddle with the crown when you change time zones. It may seem trivial, but for frequent travelers, it eliminates the only real hassel of a GMT watch.

Movement: Oris 690 (base ETA 2836-2)
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 44.7mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Nomos Zürich World Time

Similarly, Nomos’s Zürich World Time isn’t actually a world timer, but rather more of an advanced GMT. Yes, it has a world city ring, but it doesn’t display the hour for all 24 timezones individually. Instead, the city name at the 12 o’clock corresponds to the time shown on the main dial, and when the pusher at two o’clock is depressed the ring advances to the next city, while the hour hand advances one hour in synchrony. (The home time is indicated on the ring at three o’clock.) Though this complex take on the GMT function seems to fly in the face of the traditionally Bauhaus approach of “less is more,” the Zürich continues Nomos’s tradition of making incredibly beautiful and modern designs.

Movement: Nomos DUW 5201
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 40mm
Water Resistance: 30m

Grand Seiko SBGJ201

Grand Seikos are loved by hardcore watch guys because of all of the unseen details that make them so technically impressive. For example, this SBGJ201 GMT rocks the brand’s lauded high-beat movement that ticks at 36,000 bpm (most high-end mechanical watches tick at 21,000 or 28,800 bph). This bolsters accuracy, but it also gives the watch a much smoother seconds hand than its cohorts. Enthusiasts will also love the expertly-finished dial and the almost paper-like texture of the dial.

Movement: Seiko 9S86
Winding Automatic
Case diameter: 40mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Rolex GMT-Master II

Yes, it’s the obvious pick, but the Rolex GMT-Master is the definitive travel watch and an all-time classic. Gone is the old-school “Pepsi” rotating bezel of the original (unless you want to shell out $40,000 for the white gold version), replaced by a ceramic black number (Rolex also makes a black and blue variant, called the “Batman” by enthusiasts). Driving the watch is a COSC-certified automatic GMT movement, and the watch comes with classic Rolex details like an oyster bracelet and cyclops date magnifier.

Movement: Rolex 3186
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 40mm
Water Resistance: 100m

World Timers

Montblanc 1858 Geosphere

The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere has a lot going for it. For starters, its world time display is decidedly unique. While world timers with Lambert projection maps only display one hemisphere (usually the north), this shows both on two globes at 12 and six o’clock. Further, while most world time watches have a dressy look to them, this has the look of a classic tool watch, thanks to a black and gold color scheme, a rotating ceramic compass bezel and a chunky case design. The best part, though, is the price: about $6,300, making it one of the most affordable world time watches you can buy.

Movement: Montblanc MB 29.25
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 42mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Girard-Perregaux 1966 WW.TC

Given their complexity, world time watches inherently have larger cases and crowded dials, but despite this, Girard-Perregaux’s latest take on the style has an uncluttered dial design and a very nicely-proportioned 40mm by 12mm case. What’s more, it’s relatively well priced, considering that for around $13,000 you’re getting an in-house automatic world time movement (not exactly easy to manufacture) from a highly regarded legacy watchmaker.

Movement: Girard-Perregaux GP03300-0027
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 40mm
Water Resistance: 30m

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time

In addition to having a world time function, the Geophysic Universal Time packs another complication, and it’s one of the geekiest and stealthiest in horology: the deadbeat seconds. While mechanical watches are most easily identified by the smooth sweep of their seconds hand, a deadbeat seconds watch ticks once a second like a cheap quartz watch (which is a bit ironic). This is deceivingly difficult to engineer in a mechanical watch and is the reason most deadbeat watches tend to cost thousands.

Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre 772
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 41.6mm
Water Resistance: 50m

Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time

Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas World Time isn’t by any stretch of the imagination an affordable watch, but it seems to be the perfect convergence of class, durability, high watchmaking, and wearability. Part of what makes it stand out is its movement and world time display, which houses not the standard 24 time zones but rather all 37, including those that are offset by 15- and 30-minute intervals. While Vacheron Constantin is mostly known for exquisite haute horlogerie, the Overseas has the makings of a utilitarian timepiece (as far as the Swiss Big Three are concerned), thanks to a solid 150-meter depth rating, and anti-magnetic build and a convenient, quick-release strap-changing system.

Movement: Vacheron Constantin 2460 WT/1
Winding: Automatic
Case diameter: 43.5mm
Water Resistance: 150m

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