Finding The Best GMT Watches Under €5,000 — From Breitling, Tudor, Oris, And More
Here at the Fratello offices, we get a lot of questions from you, our readers. Probably the most-asked questions are centered around the topic of what to buy for different budgets. The most popular budget question is what watch to buy for under €5,000 in different watch categories. That’s why we decided to set up a small series of articles focusing on the best watches that you can buy within that budget. In this first installment of the series, we will look at the best GMT watches available for under €5K. Let’s find out what some of your potential best travel companions are.
With the world opening up again, it’s time to travel! With two years full of quarantining and travel restrictions, it’s time to find out what the world outside of your home country looks like again. What better watch to accompany you on your travels than a GMT watch? The category that the Rolex GMT-Master defined has turned into a popular category of watches. But despite its iconic value and incredible appeal, the GMT-Master is out of the budget for many watch enthusiasts. That’s why it is interesting to look at some of the more affordable options that could potentially provide you with as much fun as a Rolex GMT-Master.
Tudor Black Bay GMT
This was always going to be the first watch on the list. The Tudor Black Bay GMT perfectly captures the vintage spirit of the Rolex GMT-Master. As I explained in our recent article about GMT-Master alternatives, the Black Bay GMT has that Pan Am flair of the 1950s, and that’s what I love about the watch the most. But the Black Bay GMT is the full package. The watch features a perfectly sized 41mm case with a domed crystal, a screw-down crown, and 200 meters of water resistance. It comes with a comfortable bracelet, and inside the case, you will find the chronometer-certified MT5652 automatic movement. For €3,920, this is hard to beat.
Let me clue you in on a personal thought. I think the Black Bay GMT is the only watch that can gloriously get away with copying the Pepsi bezel. While I understand that blue and red have become category codes for GMT watches, watches from other brands always look like a copy of the Rolex GMT-Master. That’s why I appreciate it if brands find other colors or even other ways of designing a 24-hour bezel. The one exception I am more than fine with is the Black Bay GMT. First of all, it’s because of the connection between Tudor and Rolex. And second, I like how the Black Bay GMT perfectly captures the spirit of the past.
Laventure Transatlantique GMT
To further expand on the topic of great color combinations, the Laventure Transatlantique GMT is the perfect example of how different colors can create a different vibe without changing the overall concept of a GMT watch. I know you have seen the brand’s watches pop up on quite a few of our lists lately. The worst thing is that they aren’t available. But we sincerely hope that Laventure owner Clement Gaud will release more Transatlantique GMT models soon. While I love the Marine II that was released in 2021, the better release for me was the Transatlantique GMT that came out in the summer of 2020. I still regret not buying one when I had the chance. Close to two years later, I still wish that I had. The Transatlantique GMT came in two different dial variants limited to 50 pieces each, and they were brilliant.
The Transatlantique GMT features a 40.5mm diameter, and inside the case, you will find the ETA 2893-2. The watch was offered with either a matte green gradient or cream sandwich dial. Everything about the dial has vintage appeal, from the colors to the sandwich hour markers to the vintage logo and handset. But the true star of the show for me is the bezel with its Plexiglass insert. As Rob perfectly explained in his review, “The dark and sage greens mesh perfectly with the dials and the beautiful handset.” And those oversized numerals are brilliant. Their vintage style, color, and lume are spot-on. Add the bracelet with its center links shaped after the brand’s logo, and design-wise, it’s an absolute winner. Let’s hope Gaud can develop more stunning colors for the watch that was CHF 3,350. Then the only issue will be clicking fast enough.
Ball Roadmaster Marine GMT
Let’s move from a watch that is technically sold out to a watch that is on pre-order. In the article about our Top 5 Rolex GMT-Master II alternatives, some of our readers commented that I had missed out on the Ball Roadmaster GMT models. While I do not think they are a real alternative for a Rolex GMT-Master in terms of brand attraction, they are very nice watches. Ball produces two versions of the Roadmaster GMT models in several color variations. The first is the Roadmaster Marine GMT, which features a day-and-date indication and is available as you read this. The second is the Roadmaster Pilot, which features a date indication and a cyclops magnifier. This new addition to the collection will be out in the upcoming weeks and is available for pre-order.
Both watches feature a 40mm titanium case that is 14mm thick with a lug-to-lug of 47.8mm. The end link adds to those measurements a bit, though. The watch is 200m water-resistant and features a bidirectional ceramic bezel and a COSC-certified version of either the Sellita SW220-1 or the ETA 2836-2 with a special mechanism to set the GMT hand through the two pushers on the left side of the case. They are locked and unlocked simply by turning them. Pressing the upper pusher at 10 o’clock moves the hand forward, and the lower pusher at 8 o’clock moves the hand backward. The bracelet features titanium H-links and stainless steel center links. The watch is a lume monster with Ball’s iconic 28 tritium gas tubes on the dial and Super-LumiNova on the bezel. At just under €3,000, this is a very cool option that we will review soon.
Oris Aquis GMT Date
Over the last couple of years, I had quite a few chances to check out the Oris Aquis GMT Date up close. The brand created several limited editions of the watch for the Change for the Better campaign. The one that stuck with me is the Whale Shark Limited Edition with its nice dial and a black and blue bezel. But there is also a regular version with a nice dark blue sunray dial. The watch comes with a stainless steel bracelet or a blue rubber strap. While I generally would always advise buying a watch with a stainless steel bracelet and buying the strap as an extra, the Aquis GMT Date might even look better on a strap. This combination of a diver’s watch and a GMT comes with a nice strap that makes it look super nice.
The watch features a 43.5mm stainless steel case and is water-resistant to 300 meters. Thanks to its short lugs, it still fits various wrist sizes. Inside the case, Oris uses its caliber 798 based on the Sellita SW 330-1. The watch features both a 24-hour bezel and a 24-hour ring on the dial. This effectively makes it possible to check the time in three timezones. The 24-hour ring also gives the dial its character in combination with the yellow-tipped GMT hand and the color-matched GMT wording on the dial. A design detail I love is how the polished hands and hour markers are filled with Super-LumiNova. The watch is available for €2,550 on the stainless steel bracelet, and on a rubber strap, the price is €2,350. It will buy you a watch that will be at home in both the water and the sky.
Breitling Avenger Automatic GMT 43
A watch that took Fratello’s own Mike by surprise during Geneva Watch Days two years ago was the Breitling Avenger 43 GMT. We are used to seeing Breitling’s Avenger models in the bigger 45mm size. I especially like the Avenger Night Mission models, as they hide their size well with their stealthy looks. But most of all, they simply look cool. While Breitling also offers a 45mm GMT version of the Avenger, it was the 43mm variant that stole Mike’s heart. The 43mm case is relatively modest at 12.2mm high but it has a long lug-to-lug of 52.6mm and a lug width of 22mm. Nevertheless, it’s more wearable than its bigger brother and doesn’t lose its character or specs with its 300m water resistance.
Inside the case, Breitling equips the Avenger GMT with its Caliber 32. The automatic movement is based on the chronometer-rated ETA 2893-2. The watch is available with either a white or a black dial, and both feature a bright red GMT hand that contrasts nicely with the dial colors. The Avenger Automatic GMT 43 is available on a stainless steel bracelet that will emphasize the rugged character of the watch, but it looks more versatile and sporty on the black military leather strap. Additionally, Breitling offers a wide variety of rubber straps for the watch. On the bracelet, the Breitling Avenger Automatic GMT 43 is €4,300, and on the leather strap, it is available for €3,950.
Zodiac Super Sea Wolf GMT
A popular option with watch fans looking for an affordable GMT watch is the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf GMT. I loved two limited editions of the Aerospace GMT watches that Zodiac released in 2019. The first model came with a funky light blue and orange bezel, and the second version featured a black and gray bezel. Both looked amazing and sold out quickly. After those two initial releases, the GMT versions of the Super Sea Wolf have become hot property amongst watch fans. The one that immediately stood out for me was the Super Sea Wolf GMT with an orange and cream-colored bezel. It’s these funky colors that the brand has become known for. Late last year, Rob reviewed a limited edition of the same watch by Topper Jewelers. Despite the familiar color combination on the bezel, the blue and red really popped.
The watch features a 40mm stainless steel case that is 14mm thick and has a 20mm lug width. It is water-resistant to 200 meters and comes with a stainless steel bracelet. What I love about the watch’s overall design is that it looks slim, almost graceful. Inside the case, Zodiac uses the ETA 2893-2 that we also find in more expensive GMT watches. Most Zodiac Super Sea Wolf GMT models are released as limited-edition versions with funky bezel colors. At $1,695, these watches offer some of the best value for money currently available. If you are not a fan of the funky colors that the brand offers, there is also the regular stainless steel model with a black dial and stainless steel bezel that comes in at the same price. But it’s the funky colors that make these watches some of the most exciting GMTs around today.
Grand Seiko SBGN019 and SBGN021
“Quartz, Jorg?” Yes, quartz! Because if there is one brand I will not hesitate to buy a quartz watch from, it is Grand Seiko. Last year, we received three new quartz sports GMT watches from Grand Seiko that stood out due to their bright colors and exciting case design. The first was the limited-edition Grand Seiko SBGN023 that came with a spectacular dial with gold details and a gold emblem on the case back. But those 2,021 pieces have long since sold out, and on top of that, they cost over €5K. No, the unlimited red SBGN019 and the blue SBGN021 are the perfect quartz sports GMT watches that offer everything that makes Grand Seiko such a great brand.
The watches feature a brilliant angular 40mm case that is 13.1mm thick and measures 46.8mm lug-to-lug. As Lex explained in the review of the watches, “Both watches feature a scratch-resistant, ceramic, 24-hour bezel, and a two-tone chapter ring on the outer side of the dial, distinguishing night and day hours as indicated by the GMT hand.” So the bright colors are more than just decoration; they add functionality as well. The watches come equipped with Grand Seiko’s quartz caliber 9F86 with an accuracy of ±10 seconds per year. It features a date at 4 o’clock and an independent hour hand adjustment function. At €4,450, these are not the most affordable option, but they are hard to beat in terms of design, accuracy, practicality, and finishing.
Sinn 144 St DIAPAL
The last pick for this list is an iconic chronograph with a second-timezone indication. Sinn offers quite a few models with a second-timezone display. About a year ago, Rob reviewed the two models from the brand’s 105 series, and one of them was the Sinn 105 St Sa UTC with a white dial. It’s a great option for a really affordable price. However, one of my personal favorites from the Sinn collection is the Sinn 144. The Sinn 144 St DIAPAL is an amazing piece that has quite a few tricks up its sleeve. First of all, the watch looks cool with its bead-blasted stainless steel case and bracelet. The watch features a 41mm case that is 14.5mm thick, has a 20mm lug width, and is water-resistant to 200 meters.
The watch features a black and gray electroplated dial. It’s a color combination used for all of Sinn’s DIAPAL models. The brand’s DIAPAL technology refers to the lubrication-free escapement of the automatic La Joux-Perret 8000 movement inside the watch. Further, you will find the Ar logo on the dial, referring to Sinn’s Ar-Dehumidifying Technology. The dial has a lot going on, but it’s not messy at all. The watch features central hands for hours, minutes, chronograph seconds, and the second-timezone indication in a 12-hour format. The black sub-registers display the running seconds and 30-minute and 12-hour counters for the chronograph. On top of that, it is equipped with a date display and an inner bezel with a tachymeter/pulsometer scale. For €3,350, this is as technically impressive as it gets. Most of all, I think the Sinn 144 St DIAPAL looks very cool.
This list is just a very short list of possible picks for the best GMT watches under €5,000. There are plenty of other cool options out there. That’s why I would like to turn it over to you guys. What do you think? Are the eight options I mentioned the best options that are currently available? Please tell us your favorite GMT watch under €5,000 in the comments section below. We will be back with another list of possible options under €5K soon.
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