The aviation industry took off in earnest throughout the mid-20th century. Beginning with the first nonstop intercontinental jet ride from England to South Africa in 1952, the age of commercial air travel officially began. With it came the ability to cross oceans, continents, and, by default, time zones in a matter of hours. This subsequently shrank the size of the world but increased modern-day ailments such as jet lag and sleep deprivation.
Almost 80 years earlier in 1884 GMT was developed to declare Greenwich, England the world’s “mean time” by which all other time zones would be established. The reason? The Prime Meridian (0-degrees longitude) runs directly through the town. From here, pilots traveling great distances across the earth’s surface needed a way to keep up with both the current time and their local time. The advent of GMT watches assisted in that manner, working to keep track of two time zones simultaneously.
In terms of functionality, the GMT watch is genius in its simplicity. All GMT tracker watches require is a second hour hand that’s set to run half as fast as the primary hour hand; making a full rotation around the dial once ever 24 hours. This prevents jumping to any conclusions as to whether it’s a.m or p.m while keeping in line with a simple, minimalist attitude. Now, any Jetsetter or travel junkie looking to keep track of their local time when abroad can get their hands on one of these convenient timepieces. And if you yourself are in the market, might we suggest you take a look at our picks for the 12 best GMT watches out there.
Victorinox Infantry GMT
For the price point, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-looking GMT field watch than this bad boy. Swiss made and imported, the Infantry features Quartz movement (losing only a few seconds per month) and is held within a 40 mm stainless steel case. You’ll also find luminescent hands and numerals, scratch-resistant, triple-coated, and anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and water resistance up to 100 meters.
Citizen Nighthawk Eco-Drive
Here’s the perfect traveler’s watch for those who plan on spending some time in the sun. Citizen’s Eco-Drive Technology function continuously in any kind of natural or artificial light for a lifetime of use. No battery required. Which is pretty impressive considering such light powers its Japanese quartz movement, luminous hands and markers, and dual-time display. Impressive right? We know it is. So go ahead, let the light shine in.
Seiko SUN025P1 Kinetic
Many describe Seiko as their favorite Japanese watchmaker. And with this available piece, it’s difficult to disagree. Featuring a handsome white dial with luminous black hands and index hour markers, this travelers watch is powered by Japanese quartz movement and protected by a stainless steel case, and anti-reflective sapphire crystal. It also features a date display and is water resistant up to 100 meters.
Luminox Men’s 9421
Here’s a GMT option that function’s well and won’t break the bank. It boasts analog quartz movement underneath the black dial with luminous hands and Arabic numeral hour markers making it easy to make out the time at night. It’s all held within a stainless steel case and each watch comes with an attractive black leather strap accentuating both quality and comfort.
For those night owls, we definitely suggest checking out this Lum-Tec. Featuring their exclusive Maximum Darkness Visibility Technology, a special eight-layer application of ultra bright glowing Super-Luminova photo-luminescent material, the hands and dials are extraordinarily visible in all light conditions. This piece in particular features brushed stainless steel, all Swiss-made movement and the comes in a limited numbered series of 200. Better act fast.
Filson Journeyman GMT Watch by Shinola
No matter where you may roam in the world, this travelers watch has you covered. Engineered to perform in the harshest environments around the globe, the sturdy American built watch is powered by Aragonite quartz movement, hand-assembled from over 100 Swiss parts, and features a brushed stainless steel case wth matte brass PVD plating and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with glare reduction. It’s ready for the whatever life throws its way. Are you?
This GMT offering brings the already stylish Jazzmaster to new heights. Coming with either a red or blue hand indicating the second time zone, this watch is certainly ready for the world traveler. Its automatic movement ensures the most accurate of timekeeping, and its sapphire crystal dial protector, and stainless steel case ensures elegance in appearance for years to come.
Kobold Langley GMT
Here’s a handsome tribute to inventor, astronomer, aviation pioneer and timekeeper Samuel Pierpont. And what better way to pay homage to such a man than with a sleek GMT watch? It features Ronda 515.24H movement, a 316L stainless steel case, is water resistant up to 300 meters, hosts extra-thick sapphire crystal, and of course GMT functionality.
Oris Big Crown ProPilot Chronograph
As an independent Swiss watch manufacturer since 1904, Oris has the freedom to innovate in whatever manner they see fit. Here, they’ve developed an elite timepiece as an addition to their iconic ProPilot range. With automatic winding chronograph movement, a black dial with luminous numerals and hands, and a stainless steel case, this is a modern cockpit watch featuring imperative flight-worthy features.
Sinn 857 UTC
Paying tribute to the original pilot watches, the UTC series unites all of Sinn’s watchmaking abilities and follows the aesthetic of the traditional navigation cockpit clocks. They feature magnetic field protection, pressure resistance of up to 20 bar, and Ar-Dehumidifying Technology. It also comes with a bead-blasted stainless steel case, anti-reflective Sapphire crystal glass in front, and hosts self-winding ETA 2893-2 movement.
Since 1865, Zenith has maintained their prowess in the watch making industry. And their Pilot is no different, boasting an appearance similar to the first GMT pilot watches of the 1950s. It features Elite 693 automatic movement, build from stainless steel,and the matte-black dial is protected by a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides.
Bell & Ross BR-01-93 Aviation
Bell & Ross base their watches off of four design principles: optimized water resistance, Swiss mechanical movements, clear visual indicators, and special functions for specific uses. Here, they introduce the GMT Aviation watch boasting black carbon coated stainless steel casing, a black dial with white Arabic numerals and indices and sapphire crystal protecting it all. Oh, and water resistance up to 100 meters.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
It’s always pleasant to see partnerships that benefit the earth’s well-being. Designed as a tribute to this partnership between Omega and the GoodPlanet Foundation, this GMT watch pays homage to environmental conservation. It features Omega 8605 movement, a bi-directional rotating bezel, domed, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a steel case, blue dial and is water resistant up to 600 meters. There’s also a transparent case back so you can witness the patented Omega movement yourself.
Breitling Navitimer World GMT
Clearly not a minimalist watch, the World GMT features self-winding Swiss automatic chronometer movement, date features, chronograph features, scratch-resistant glare proof Sapphire crystal, a polished steel case and Navitmer bracelet. Among several other features, this watch is built with an analog display and is ready to partner up with you for the next exploration.
Rolex GMT Master II
What list wouldn’t be complete without a Rolex? Here the famed watchmaker offers special GMT functionality within a stainless steel case and oyster bracelet, engraved and rotating stainless steel bezel, and black dial with luminous hands and dial markers. Its automatic movement ensures accurate time-keeping and scratch-resistant crystal supports a sleek appearance over many years.