In the grand scheme of human history, the wristwatch has only been around for a small fraction of it. But in that time, the functional style accessory has evolved and branched off to suit a huge variety of needs that range from simple time-telling to calculating complex physics equations and everything in-between.
Perhaps one of the most seemingly-simple-yet-useful advents, however, was the creation of GMT functionality. You see, by adding a secondary, adjustable 24-hour hand and a 24-hour bezel, watches were suddenly given the ability to track two separate timezones at once. Named after Greenwich Mean Time — the clock time at 0° longitude, AKA the Prime Meridian — these timepieces are absolutely perfect for jet setters, pilots, and international businessmen alike — or really anyone who frequently finds themselves globetrotting. If you fit into any of the aforementioned groups, then you’ll want to check out our list of the best GMT watches for travel below.
Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk
The first thing you’ll likely notice about Citizen’s Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk is that the dial is quite busy. But there’s a very good reason for that: this is a remarkably functional analog timepiece. On top of GMT functionality, it has a date window at the 3 o’clock position, and a pilot’s slide rule — a device used to calculate things like metric-to-imperial conversions, fuel consumption, speed, distance, etc. Essentially, this is a pilot’s best friend in the case that an aircraft’s instruments, for whatever reason, fail. And, when paired with the simple and straightforward GMT function, makes this an excellent travel watch for flyboys everywhere.
Victorinox Infantry GMT Watch
Far more minimalistic and simple than the previous entry, Victorinox’s Infantry GMT is a perfect example of a barebones time-teller that’s superb for those who find themselves traveling often. It’s elegantly-executed with a sturdy raw stainless steel case and a comfortable brown leather strap — which contrasts beautifully against the black dial and striking red GMT hour hand. It also boasts a reliable quartz movement, is water-resistant to 100 meters, and has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
Luminox Men’s SXC PC Carbon GMT Watch
Luminox made a name for themselves building ultra-tough military dive watches. And while their expertise still lies in that venue, it also pares beautifully into the GMT watch you see before you. Sinister in its nearly all-black styling, yet still striking thanks to its silver hands and red GMT hand, this timepiece boasts a reliable quartz movement, a carbon fiber case, has a sturdy rubber strap with a buckle closure, and is water-resistant to 200m. If your travels take you out onto or under the surface of the ocean, this might just be the perfect GMT watch for you.
Hamilton Broadway GMT Watch
The first offering on our list to boast automatic functionality, this limited-edition GMT watch from Hamilton comes with a brand-new exclusive H-14 movement with a whopping 80-hour power reserve that will keep right on ticking without ever needing a battery swap. And while its case is constructed from sturdy stainless steel, the bezel is actually made from high-end ceramic, adding even more durability and exclusivity. What makes it even better is that, along with standard GMT 24-hour markings, the bezel also has markings for 24 major cities around the world — which means you can technically track up to 26 different locales all with this one watch. If you travel the globe and just two timezones aren’t going to cut it, this is the watch for you.
Kobold Langley GMT Watch
You’d think it might be easy to create a minimalist GMT watch, but the reality is that many of them are quite busy and complicated. That’s not the case, however, with Kobold’s Langley GMT you see before you. Named after and inspired by Samuel Pierpont Langley — an inventor, astronomer, and aviation pioneer — this is actually the very first Kobold watch built for civilians, rather than the military. And while the standard edition is plenty tough and handy, there’s also the option for a number of upgrades — like a unidirectional or bi-directional rotating bezel, a DLC coating, and even a diver’s edition that’s rated to 500 meters.
Oris Rega GMT Watch
Started in 1904, Oris has a long-standing tradition of building superb pilot’s watches. So it should come as no surprise that one of their best offerings is also a GMT watch. This limited edition is an exclusive take on their iconic Big Crown Propilot made in collaboration with Rega, the Swiss air-rescue service. It also comes with an automatic movement, a date window, and a seconds sub-dial. But only 2,000 of these were built, so if you want one you’ll probably want to act quickly.
Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT Watch
Like many of the brands on our list, Bell & Ross have a long history of creating travel- and aviation-inspired timepieces. And while we’re missing their signature square-shaped case in this watch, it’s no less a gorgeous travel GMT watch that excels at its purpose and would make a stupendous addition to any style collection. On top of its clean, timeless appearance, it also features an automatic movement, an exhibition case-back, a bi-directional rotating bezel, and is water-resistant to 100 meters.
Breitling Avenger II GMT Watch
Whereas most GMT watches boast the ability to tell time in two different timezones, Breitling’s Avenger II GMT watch doubles down on that and adds a third into the mix, thanks to 24-hour markings around the edge of the dial and a secondary set of 24-hour markings around the bidirectional rotating bezel. And that makes this an even more capable time-teller, especially for frequent travelers. It also features a 21-jewel automatic movement, a 42-hour power reserve, a stainless steel case with 300m water-resistance, and more.
Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT Watch
Not to be confused with the electronics brand of the same name, the Swiss watch brand, Zenith, is an under-the-radar watchmaker that deserves a good deal more recognition than they currently get. Well-equipped to go toe-to-toe with the likes of TAG Heuer, Breitling, and more, they offer a wide range of superb timepieces. And this GMT watch, based on their legendary PILOT Type 20, exemplifies exactly why. Done up in a unique black-blue-and-white colorway, this watch capitalizes on the aeronautical influence with a GMT hand added onto it for dual timezone tracking. It also has a 50-hour automatic movement, 100-meters of water-resistance, and a leather strap.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT Watch
Leave it to a fabled brand like Omega to take their diving heritage and imbue it with a bit of travel-friendly functionality. The Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT is a dive watch first and foremost — boasting a water-resistance that’s good for depths up to 2,000 feet — but it also has a secondary hour hand that pairs with a bidirectional rotating bezel for exemplary two-timezone tracking. It also has a subtle date window at the 3 o’clock position, comes with your choice of strap — be that a link band, NATO strap, leather strap, and more — and it has a self-winding movement that’s good for a lifetime of usage without any battery swaps or hand-winding. Bravo yet again, Omega.
Rolex GMT-Master II Watch
Rolex’s GMT-Master II isn’t just a good GMT watch; it’s one of the most significant and important watches of all time. And, as it turns out, they’ve just revamped it for the 2019 year. While it’s iconic styling is still very much intact, it now boasts a new automatic movement, has a bezel built from an exceedingly tough ceramic material (called Cerachrom), and comes with a five-link Oystersteel Jubilee band. Beautifully bringing together the old and the new, this might just be the most iconic GMT watch ever made.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT Watch
Because they dabble primarily in quartz movements, the horological world likes to downplay Seiko as “just another Japanese watch brand.” And we think that’s a tremendous shame because, in reality, they make some exceedingly beautiful and impactful timepieces. And that goes double for their Grand Seiko premium sub-brand. For instance, the GMT travel watch you see here is carefully crafted using 18k gold accents — with inspiration taken from the morning sun floating on the horizon. It also boasts the brand’s legendary Spring Drive automatic movement (with a 72-hour power reserve), is water-resistant to 20 bars, has a stainless steel construction, and has a date window. You might not have thought Seiko would make one of the absolute best GMT watches, but here it is.
The GMT Watch Explained
Though it’s a seemingly simple prospect — giving watches the ability to track time over two separate timezones — GMT watches are a bit more complicated when you get down to the nuts and bolts. You can find out all about their history, functionality, and more on our guide explaining GMT complications.