Written By: Vahid Moradi
When it comes to a watch that offers both maximum impact and beautiful simplicity, the GMT watch dominates with its ability to showcase dual time zones at once. But what is a GMT watch exactly? Based on the Greenwich Mean Time zone, the GMT function has made it the go-to travel watch displaying both 12-hour and 24-hour period dials. GMT function, or second time zone, watches add style and function to your wrist, keeping you connected whether you’re joining a multi-zone conference call from Chicago or on vacation in Tokyo.
While the Rolex GMT Master might be the holy grail of GMT watches,1 there are plenty of luxury timepieces giving it a run for its money. Let’s explore our top picks for the best GMT watches to sport in the new year.
#1 Go-Anywhere Style
The Chronomat Automatic GMT 40 from Breitling is a GMT watch that’s built for travel. If you’re looking for a timepiece that’s practical, understated, and elegant, this is the watch for you.
However, you wouldn’t want to invest in a watch that’s only ideal for travel. The design features of the Chronomat Automatic GMT 40 go with any outfit, pairing as well with your travel attire as it does with the clothes you wear every day. Those features include:
- Subtle dial colors
- A refined all-steel case
- A stainless steel bracelet
In other words, this is a sports watch that goes where you go, featuring a two-time zone display and a 24-hour scale that offers at-a-glance information.
#2 Modern Monochrome
If you want a GMT watch that tells you more than the time, the Luminor BiTempo from Panerai is the perfect choice for a modern timepiece that’s sleek, stylish, and refined. In addition to the hour, its display features include:
- Date display at three o’clock
- Power receive indicator at five o’clock
- Small seconds at nine o’clock
This watch’s aesthetic is as attractive as its functions. The dark blue alligator strap features tone-on-tone stitching that matches the sun-brushed face. Illuminated hands and oversized Arabic numerals at twelve, six, and nine make for a watch that’s readable, while the see-through back made of sapphire crystal offers a peek into this watch’s inner workings.
#3 Vintage Charm
With the jet age of the 1940s came a travel revolution that would change the world—and our ability to traverse all corners of it. But with this new era also came the need for a timepiece that could travel just as far and soar just as high. Enter the pilot’s watch.
The appeal of any pilot’s watch is its ability to keep time despite the complications of high altitudes. The Super AVI B04 Chronograph GMT Mustang does just that—all in a setting that takes the design from the cockpit to the passenger cabin and everywhere else.
The Super AVI B04 features an oversized 46mm face with displays for two-timezone tracking. The dial and bezel feature highly readable Arabic numerals, and the strap is available in glinting stainless steel or lush top-stitched calfskin.
#4 Worldtimer Combo
No need to choose between a GMT complication or a world timer complication when you can have both. The gorgeous Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Co‑axial Master Chronometer GMT Worldtimer 43 MM is like having the whole world at your fingertips, from the intricate earth center to the cities spelled out around the perimeter encircling the ocean blue dial.
Another standout feature of this stunning watch is its magnetic field resistance, keeping you ticking without skipping a beat from interference such as smartphone exposure or airport scanners. And if that feature isn’t unique enough, the Seamaster also carries the distinction of being certified as a master chronometer.
#5 Masculine Minimalist
When it comes to GMT watches, “minimal” doesn’t have to mean that a watch doesn’t stand out, as the Luminor GMT from Panerai proves. The standard black leather strap features blue stitching and a stately black ceramic bezel that’s unique and noticeable without being ostentatious.
Likewise, minimal doesn’t mean the watch skimps on display information. One glance at Panerai’s Luminor and you have access to:
- Small Seconds
Whether you’re traversing time zones or dashing across town, the Luminor GMT is the watch to take with you.
#6 Sporty Statement
For a GMT watch that’s sporty, sophisticated, and decked out with readable display features, turn to the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph from IWC Schaffhausen. And for those who find themselves frequently navigating the seas, it's worth exploring sailing watches, which are specially designed to meet the unique demands of maritime adventures.
The Timezoner Chronograph features a stainless steel case and luminescent black dial with a 24-hour function for telling time anywhere in the world. It’s all set behind sapphire glass that’s designed to withstand displacement that can be caused by changes in air pressure, meaning you never have to worry about inaccuracies when you travel.
Who Should Wear a GMT Watch?
Giving you both 12 and 24 hour monitoring, GMT watches provide an accurate connection to faraway locales regardless of your physical distance. Whether you work with international finance markets or just love the way they look, GMT watches are perfect for many professions and lifestyles, such as:
- Pilots and flight attendants
- International employees
- Frequent travelers
- Long-distance families
- Study abroad students
- Digital nomads
Regardless of your motivations, whether you're searching for a pilot watch or a travel watch, GMT watches are a stylish addition to any timepiece collection and are available in designs and price points to fit every wrist.
CJ Charles: Your Trusted Source For The Best GMT Watches
Before you book your next getaway, consider purchasing a traveler’s watch to help you on your journey. Aside from their intricate construction and stylish designs, GMT watches are infinitely practical and the perfect addition to any timepiece collection.
At CJ Charles, we’ve been sharing our love for luxury timepieces and estate jewelry with the San Diego community since 1986. Explore our selection of GMT watches and other extraordinary timepieces and find your next quality heirloom piece to take you from SoCal to Shanghai with the twist of a crown.
Written By: Vahid Moradi
Vahid Moradi’s lifelong passion, dedication, and commitment for the jewelry industry led him to become the respected owner of CJ Charles Jewelers in 1988. From that moment, Moradi’s single focus in business was to become recognized as the pinnacle of value and world-class quality in the his Community. Over 34 years later, CJ Charles continues to grow and thrive as a successful, family-owned business that consistently provides exceptional service to all their clientele.
- Gear Patrol. What Makes Rolex's GMT-Master The Best Travel Watch Ever? https://www.gearpatrol.com/watches/a65658/rolex-gmt-master/
- The New York Times. What to Do if Your Watch Is Magnetized. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/01/style/watches-magnetization.html
- Tudor. The Spirit of Black Bay GMT. https://www.tudorwatch.com/en/watch-family/black-bay-gmt