How to Use a GMT Watch

Thinking about getting a GMT watch but like to know a little more about them before you make the purchase? Well, let’s take a look at these intriguing timepieces that track separate time zones.

You’ve probably heard of the famed Rolex GMT-Master and Rolex GMT-Master II. Moreover, you probably know that GMT means Greenwich Mean Time and that it has something to do with a time-zone line somewhere in England.

For many of us, that’s the extent of our knowledge of GMT (and we’re fine with that!). But, then again, there are these things called GMT watches and they are, well, kind of awesome, especially if they’re from Rolex. They’re not hard to figure out and pretty useful when you do get a handle on how they function.

side view of Rolex GMT-Master II black dial watch

How Does GMT Work?

GMT watches come with the ability to tell the time of an additional time zone. It gives you an idea of the current time in countries all over the world, by using an inexplicably amazing feature to reveal time worldwide. So, what exactly is this feature and how does it work?

Well, basically, the watch has an extra hand that points to Greenwich Mean Time. At least, that’s where we start as a reference. But rather than the 12-hour rotations of most regular hour hands on watches, the GMT hand references 24-hour markers. So, in other words, the GMT hand goes around once a day independent of the watch’s usual hour and seconds hands. The GMT watch hand is often an arrow, often colored red, and varying in shape from the regular hands to avoid any confusion. It sounds simple enough!

But Then There’s the Bezel

Adding to functionality (or confusion depending on your point of view), a rotating bezel can be used to track another time zone. How? Well, imagine you are in Greenwich, England. The tea is strong, the Yorkshire pudding flaky, it’s midnight, and the GMT hand points to zero on your bezel. You’re taking a flight to New York City, where it’s five hours earlier. Click your bezel clockwise five marks and you’re now tracking time in the Big Apple. As all the world’s time zones use Greenwich as a reference, you can do this with any location.

Usually, a GMT watch also has the bezel handily divided into two parts. The bezel of a GMT watch is a bi-colored one. Generally, a black and blue combination or black and red works for the compartmentalization of the bezel. One part has the time zone for the night hours, and the other part indicates the day hours. Thence, the extended time zone shows ante meridiem (before) hours and post meridiem (after) hours in different colors, which makes adjusting the bezel to the correct time zone even easier.

closer view of Rolex GMT-Master II watch

So, You’re Not a Jetsetter?

No, probably not. If you’re like most of us, then you’re not on and off planes all the time, constantly needing to reset to local time. You have a job, a family, a life and they don’t usually include red-eye flights to far-flung corners of the world. So, how does a GMT watch help you then?

If you work remotely with people from across the world, or if your company has a satellite office on another coast, chances are it’s a good idea to have an awareness of time in other places. A GMT watch is an easy maintenance-free way to always have other time zones in your consciousness. Got far-away family? It’s a good idea to know you’re not calling them during dinner time. Got a deadline — an hour in which work has to be done? Just set the GMT hand however much time you have left back from zero and when that hand points straight up, then your time is also up.

How Does it Work for You?

So far, we’ve looked at the functions, the uses, and overall usability. Now, let’s consider the why. Why would you consider buying a GMT watch and how would you wear it in practicality?

Rolex GMT-Master II black dial watch on the wrist

For the prestige. Owning a watch that easily tracks different time zones isn’t just about usefulness. And heck, chances are you’re going to check time zone info on your phone as soon as you land and pass through free airport WiFi on the way to baggage claim. But the GMT watch says something about you. It proudly proclaims to all that you are a citizen of the world, you have knowledge of, and experience in, parts across the globe. You may be at home right now, but your watch has one eye on the local time in London and the other ready to calculate touch-down time in Shanghai.

Because it’s not your phone! Yes, we know you probably won’t pass up the chance to use your phone as a watch, passing WiFi in the airport, or any other hotspots for that matter. That doesn’t make it right. Or at least, the best way to go about things. Just about anyone can (and does) pull out their phone for info, soon lost in the ever-enticing digital landscape, goading you to check that message, consider those likes, respond to every text no matter how banal. Now, contrast that with a cool quick glance at your exquisite watch. You’ll notice the difference in how you feel, and others will take note of your sophisticated move as well.

For the style. Watch aficionados will go on and on (and rightly so) about watch movements. And when it comes to a GMT watch, they’ll totally geek out on its functions. But for most of us, watches are style statements. We focus on shape, dial colors, straps (Dressy leather? Go commando with NATO? All-biz bracelet?). You choose a fine GMT watch because of how it looks; because it complements the way you dress; and because it’s a piece that exemplifies how you see yourself. Leave the gears to the geeks; you’d want something cool on your wrist.

Most Famous GMT Watches

1: Rolex GMT Master II watch

Rolex GMT Master II black dial watch on its side

The ravishing gold bracelet of the watch outclasses all other specs. This Rolex GMT Master II watch has a rotating bezel which is bi-directional. There is an amazing and off-beat contrast as the dial is in green color; however, the watch markers are synonymous to the gold bracelet. The watch can also resist water up to 100 m. There’s a screw down crown attached beside the bezel. There is a regular date calendar at 3 ‘o clock. On top of all that, there are luminous watch markers for the additional time zone.

2: Breitling Avenger II GMT watch

This Breitling GMT timepiece has a stainless steel case whose width is 43mm. There’s a leather-made black strap perfectly suiting the silver steel case. The watch offers 300 mm of water resistance. Moreover, the watch markers and hands (min and hour) inside the fully black dial are silver-toned. The seconds hand is given in red, for a change. The outstanding features also include a 42-hour power reserve. The date can be seen via date calendar at 3 ‘o clock.

3: IWC Pilot Automatic GMT watch

The focal point of the IWC Pilot automatic is a beautiful and stainless steel case. It flaunts a black leather-made strap. The rotating bezel is quite unique as it has city names written on it. The screw down crown alongside the bezel is accompanied by two push buttons. The water resistance is up to 60mm. The black dial has a couple of sub-dials, 12-hour display, and a date calendar, and is a chronograph watch. Along with it, it proffers a 68-hour power reserve.

GMT Watch Conclusion

So, whether you’re a frequent business traveler or more of a cubicle creature, from checking the stock market bell to checking in on grandma, maybe a GMT watch is the right way for you to track multiple spots with one glance at your watch.

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