When it was first popularized in the 1950s, the GMT watch was made for pilots. After all, who else needed to keep track of a second time zone?
Calling the GMT a “pilot’s watch” today, though, is a bit of a joke. The way we travel and are in constant contact with family, friends, and business associates halfway around the world has made the GMT a much more universally practical feature. Yes, the GMT watch’s stock has gone up, and in the past few years, the market demand has been met by great watchmakers, who see that extra, arrow-tipped 24-hour hand as a great marker of prestige and a unique design element. We’ve even started to get affordable versions. This newfound popularity was on full display at Baselworld 2019, one of the biggest moments of the year for watchmakers and watch lovers. Here are our favorites from the new wave of the GMT trend.
Monta Atlas GMT
The new frontier for GMTs is affordability. What’s not to love? Monta’s version combines a lot of style and design from other watches of theirs that we like — the Skyquest and Triumph come to mind — with a GMT hand that, in a fun twist, is slightly stepped at its tip so as to avoid the dial’s raised markers.
Movement: Sellita 330 automatic
Zodiac Aerospace GMT
Zodiac’s Aerospace GMT was originally released in 1966. It was affordable then, and it’s affordable now. In fact, it’s an extremely faithful homage to the original, down to the black-and-grey and blue-and-orange colorways. The biggest change is its size, which Zodiac’s blown up to 40mm from the especially small 35.5mm of the original.
Movement: ETA 2893-2 automatic
Oris Aquis GMT Date
The Oris Aquis is one of the value-focused, independent brand’s tentpole collections. It got a few upgrades, including a new blue colorway, a circular date window, and this — an affordable GMT, which also features a deep blue dial and that circular cutout, but here for the GMT’s 24-hour track.
Movement: Calibre 798, based on Sellita SW 330-1 automatic
Porsche Design Globetimer UTC
Porsche Design has hit some watch home runs. In the ‘70s, their Chronograph 1 was the first all-black timepiece ever made; in the ‘80s, they made the first ever titanium chronograph. Most importantly, Tom Cruise wore one in Top Gun. Their new GMT is just as sleek and unique, with a day-night indicator, pushers to adjust the local time, and a second time zone hand.
Movement: WERK 04.110, based on Sellita SW200 automatic
Rolex GMT-Master II “Batman”
Part of the Rolex buzz this year was a simple uncertainty: which color duet would the GMT get next? It wasn’t the “Coke” (red and black), but the “Batman,” a black-and-blue duo that gained popularity after Rolex stopped making the massively popular “Pepsi” between 2009 and 2018. Otherwise, the watch is exactly the same as last year’s Pepsi re-release; unlike that one, however, you’ll likely be able to find this on the secondhand market without an enormous markup.
Movement: Rolex 3285 automatic
Patek Philippe Alarm Travel Time 5520P
Everyone agrees that this is a very weird watch. What they’ve made is a GMT watch that also has a 24-hour alarm. Makes sense — you’re traveling, you need to keep track of a second time zone, and jet lag is a bitch. Where it gets weird is that it pairs a gong alarm, a mechanically very complicated feature, with a digital readout for the alarm time on the dial. Oh, and it costs $200,000. Go figure.
Movement: AL 30-660 S C FUS automatic
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