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 GMT-Master II. You probably know that GMT means Greenwich Mean Time. And you also probably know that GMT 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. They’re not hard to figure out and pretty useful when you do get a handle on how they function.

Rolex GMT-Master II

How Does GMT 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 its 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.

Rolex GMT-Master II

So You’re Not a Jetsetter?

No, probably not. If you’re like most of us 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, 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 your time is also up.

How Does it Work for You?

So we’ve looked at the what, the functions, the uses, the 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

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 GMT, 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 because of how it looks, because it complements the way you dress, because it’s a piece that exemplifies how you see yourself. And, in turn, how the world sees you. Leave the gears to the geeks, you want something cool on your wrist.


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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