GMT stands for Greenwhich Mean Time, which is actually an antiquated idea that uses pre-1955 technology to determine time zones. The name was applied to timepieces that bore a 24-hour clock and a secondary hour hand, allowing travelers to keep track of time in two separate places. In spite of the acronym no longer having any bearing, GMT watches still carry the moniker honorably, and are more brilliant today than they were when they first began.
GMT Watches in Short
GMT watches were made when jet airplanes came into common use, allowing people to move over many time zones extremely quickly. They were initially crafted by Rolex and allowed individuals hopping across hours or days to keep track of what time it was where they were, and where they were going. These watches were elegant simplicity with dual hour hands that could keep wearers mentally in two places at once; avoiding impolite gaffs such as calling home at 3am.
Though we now sync our time via one of our many ever-connected devices, GMT timepieces are still a suave, chic way to live a jet-setting lifestyle. Each of our 18 best GMT watches is a functional work of art.
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#18 – Casio Baby-G
Beginner’s Luck: Our most modest choice is generally reserved for women or younger buyers without the monetary clout to go bigger. Though lean on price, the digital and analog combination along with broad color schemes make it a choice that doesn’t look nor operate as cheap as the price would have you believe.
#17 – Victorinox Infantry GMT
Standard Issue: Swiss-Quartz movement from the company who actually invented the Swiss Army Knife, there’s a highly functional feel to the Infantry. Clearly meant for everyday carry, it’s the kind of piece that would appeal to an enlisted soldier, right down to the flexible mesh metal band.
#16 – Seiko Kinetic GMT
Motion Activated: Surprisingly easy to operate for a kinetic watch, the quartz movement is powered entirely by the motion of your body, yet won’t come unwound the second you touch the dial to set your additional hour hand. Ideal for long trips, it’s alive as long as you are.
#15 – Hager GMT Traveler
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Uncomplicated: Everything you need to know about this timepiece is written on the 316L Marine grade stainless steel face. It’s large, running 50mm from lug to lug, but doesn’t use the increased size for clutter. Rather, it just runs its automatic HGR 60 movement along, hacking seconds off and looking damn good doing it.
#14 – Shinola Rambler
Home Cooking: An enormous chunk of real American-made metal, the Rambler series comes right out of the Motor City and it shows. Laser-etched steel that creates a notable profile on your wrist, this could be used as a weapon as easily as a timepiece.
#13 – Brera Orologi Eterno
White Knight: One of the oddest semi-unisex watches on the market, it takes a moment to process the white on white design, but when the gentle refinement of the piece kicks in, the Swiss Ronda 5030D quartz movement is just icing on this very bright cake.
#12 – Nixon Diplomat
Large Print: There’s no mistaking a Diplomat, even from afar. The colossal numerals and thick hash marks give it a bold appearance, even while the three-hand quartz toils behind the scenes. Completing the package is the large crown, which is often set on the left side for simple wear by southpaws.
Sky Racer: Triple chronos on the face make this much more than a GMT, turning it into an item Howard Hughes might wear when attempting to break the air speed record. Vintage style with a simple face and more hands than you will ever need, die-hard gearheads will love it.
#10 – Kobold Langley
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Time Honored: Named after inventor Samuel Pierpont Langley, this was the first watch civilians could purchase that had real quartz movement. It’s made of sturdy stainless, complete with impact resistance mechanisms inside that allow it to absorb a lot of punishment without missing a minute.
#9 – Omega Diver 300 M
Secret Agent Man: Most commonly associated with James Bond, the Diver 300M is a serious diving watch that just happens to carry GMT elements to it. The mixture creates a dynamic operation that is hidden behind steel and sapphire. Also comes in petite 28mm women’s models which bears quartz movement.
Information Overload: 46mm of self-winding silver masculine glory, the Navitimer will let you plot a course, create algorithms, and solve a few equations. It might also tell time, but we haven’t gotten that far yet.
Watch & Learn: It’s easy to get transfixed staring through the sapphire crystal on the back at the oscillating titanium weight in the back of this watch. Hypnotically beautiful, it has a 10 beat caliber 9S85 that barely loses time through its automatic movement, and can quickly be hand-wound so it won’t drop a second, even after days of layovers in the airport terminal.
#6 – Baume & Mercier Capeland 10106
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Thin Blue Line: Self-winding Swiss automatic movement on a striking blue leather strap, you’ll likely spend the first week just marveling at it every chance you get. Below the looks, front and rear sapphire crystals with a satin finish make it tough to damage, even after a few hundred reckless TSA searches.
#5 – Rolex GMT-Master II
Genesis: A similar model to the watch that started it all, the Master II uses 904L stainless steel for the body with Swiss 3186 movement. Cerachrom on the exterior shifts with the lighting, appearing blue then black as you move it through different lighting arrangements. Just as good in the office as heading into the wild blue.
Ultra-Sized: Using an immense 48mm face, the Navitimer shoehorns in a buffet of information. It has a bi-directional slide rule like a pilot’s watch, a fistful of chronos like a racer, and the extra time-zone tracking that gives it its name. Supremely comfortable for extended red eye flights around the globe, it’s in for the long haul.
#3 – Chopard L.U.C. Regulator
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Golden Child: Styled after the clocks used by watchmakers to set their creations, the Regulator takes a little time to learn, since it splits up measurements all around the dial. Once mastered, it can be used as a basic stopwatch or minute-minder without needing any adjustment.
Chrono Map: GMT watches are often focused on simplicity rather than grace, but the Hora Mundi seeks to break from that tradition. The striking global background is reminiscent of professorial globes and the roman numerals call to mind ancient texts (or Super Bowls). Done in platinum, it’s the juxtaposition between modern and archaic.
#1 – Greubel Forsey GMT
True Transparency: More than just a gimmick, the GMT carries two barrels with a 72-hour power reserve and works at 21,600 vibrations each hour. The body is 950 platinum backed by an alligator band, but all you need to know is it is amazing and worth the money to collectors seeking bragging rights.