Welcome to his week’s Sunday Morning Showdown. Imagine yourself flying from one time zone to the next. You are an international person of mystery, traveling in style. You find yourself moving from boardrooms to beaches and anything in between. So what do you wear? Well, how about a steel and gold GMT watch to suit your globetrotting, fashionable lifestyle? How about a Longines Spirit Zulu Time or a Tudor Black Bay GMT? Which of these smooth travel watches would you pick?

In today’s Sunday Morning Showdown, Longines faces off against Tudor. Thomas will defend the Spirit Zulu Time as Jorg takes the side of the Black Bay GMT S&G. But first, let’s have a look at the results of last week’s showdown.

Last week’s Sunday Morning Showdown

In last week’s battle, we pitted two 75th-anniversary Seamasters against each other. It was the battle of the vignette-blue 300M and 300. As it turns out, you preferred the vintage-inspired Seamaster 300. It won by a landslide, raking in 67% of the votes.

Reading through the comments, we noticed it was primarily the cleanliness of the 300’s design that made the difference. Some commenters liked the lack of fauxtina on this version of the 300. Others felt the 300M was a bit too glitzy and involved.

In any case, we were slightly surprised by the large margin by which the 300 won. In general, the 300M is the bigger seller and the more popular watch. It is good to see that this does not seem to cloud your judgment and you just go with the one you prefer. Kudos, Fratelli! But now, let’s get on with today’s battle of the bicolor GMTs!

Today’s showdown: Longines vs. Tudor GMTs

You can probably see why we pitted these two watches against each other. They really do follow a rather similar recipe. They are both “true” or “flyer” GMTs. Both are styled with vintage sports watches in mind. And, of course, both are adorned with yellow-gold details. Both take a largely gold-capped approach, with some more solid gold parts.

There are differences too. The Black Bay has a bicolor bezel, whereas the Zulu Time does not. Most notable, perhaps, is that the Tudor bracelet features gold-capped center links. The Longines comes on a fully stainless steel bracelet, making for a more subdued overall aesthetic. Or you could pick both with a leather strap. Although pictured, both Thomas and Jorg wouldn’t go that route. You can have your pick of a 39mm and a 42mm version of the Longines. The Tudor, on the other hand, only comes in a 41mm case.

Price-wise, the Tudor rings in at €5,850 on the bracelet and €4,490 on a leather strap. The Longines will require parting with €4,650 on the bracelet or €4,590 on a leather strap, regardless of which size you pick. Now, let’s see what Jorg and Thomas have to say about their respective picks. Gloves off; Sunday Morning Showdown is on!

Thomas: Longines Spirit Zulu Time

You may know that Jorg and I are both design freaks. And that is a good thing because today’s showdown is primarily a matter of aesthetics. Both watches are made to pretty much the same technical standards. There is little between the specs. Both are chronometers with high levels of manufacturing and finishing all around. Granted, the Black Bay GMT is more water resistant at 200 meters, but then that comes at the expense of an extra millimeter of height. With these two being so similar, we really have to get into the nitty-gritty of the designs.

Now, I have always been particularly critical of Longines. For a long time, I felt the brand was neither here nor there in design. Tudor, on the other hand, tends to really speak to me. But I agree with RJ that Longines is on a roll lately. The 39mm version of the Zulu Time took me by surprise. It is a thoroughly impressive and desirable watch.

Overall, in my eyes, the Longines has more flow to its design. It is a little simpler, more cohesive, and more ergonomic, with a better stance on the wrist. This, to me, is the first thing to look at in a watch design. How does it sit on the wrist? The Tudor feels like it sits on top of the wrist, whereas the Longines hugs the wrist a little more. But there is more to it…

Vintage inspiration done correctly

I don’t know about you, but I am experiencing some vintage-inspired fatigue. I love watches that pay respect to their heritage. Watches that emulate vintage aesthetics, on the other hand, don’t age well in my eyes. It is a subtle but crucial difference. The Longines is a watch that feels contemporary, built on a design language set over decades. The Tudor is more of a straight-up vintage-styled watch.

I think Longines did well to omit the two-tone bezel. To me, it is a bit of a GMT cliché that makes most multiple-time-zone watches look alike. I also like that the bracelet is just full steel. These two choices make the Spirit Zulu Time feel fresher and more contemporary to me. The case is just lovely, with the muscular lugs emphasized by surprisingly high-level finishing. The date at 6 o’clock is another point to the Spirit.

The Tudor, on the other hand, takes certain details a bit too far for my liking. I happen to like the signature snowflake hand. But there are three of them there, which makes it look cluttered. The riveted bracelet and the clasp with its pointy end that scratches the bracelet don’t do the Black Bay GMT any favors either. Granted, many of the arguments are subjective, for sure. But you have gathered by now that I would keep €1,200 in my pocket and get the Longines Spirit Zulu Time. Over to you, Jorg! What makes you pick the Tudor over the Longines? Take it away!

Jorg: Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G

Thanks, Thomas! I’ll be the first to admit that this is a tough matchup at first glance. Ultimately, I do not find it that hard to defend the Tudor Black Bay S&G as it appeals to a sentiment I love. But let’s start at the beginning. First of all, I love what Longines has done with the new 39mm versions of the Spirit Zulu Time. The stainless steel version with the dark green bezel, anthracite dial, and gold-tone details is an absolute stunner. While I liked the 42mm model a lot, the new 39mm version is a serious contender in my quest for a great GMT. Not coincidentally, it has to compete with the Black Bay Pro in a very personal showdown for my cash.

But we’re not here to discuss that matchup. It’s all about the glorious combination of steel and gold for this one. And coming back to that sentiment I talked about, we know that Tudor has raided the Rolex archives and brought back some silhouettes from Rolex’s past that are far more specific than previous Black Bay models. That’s why I was initially disappointed that Tudor had simply introduced its version of the Explorer II ref. 1655 and the GMT-Master II “Root Beer.” It just seemed too easy. But we all know that Rolex hardly ever looks in the rearview mirror for its new designs. And the ability to look back is the key to the great success of Tudor.

Finding the right sentiment with the Tudor-infused “Root Beer”

The truth is that I will never buy a “Freccione” because it’s simply too expensive. And when it comes to the GMT-Master ref. 1675/3 or ref. 16753 that I love, it remains to be seen. That doesn’t mean that I do not love the aesthetic of both watches, though. And over the last 15 months or so, I’ve found peace with Tudor bringing back the sentiment of these two classic silhouettes and giving them the Tudor spin. When it comes to the sentiment of the GMT-Master “Root Beer,” it’s simply one of the coolest watches ever created. It’s two-tone glory at its best. Get a Root Beer on a Jubilee bracelet, and you’ll not only feel cool but automatically be cool as well.

All jokes aside, I do think that the Root Beer vibe is very cool indeed, and hinting back at that gives the Tudor immediate cool points in my book. Unlike you Thomas, I am not bored of the day/night division on a GMT bezel. If done well through the right combination of colors and font, it can make a GMT watch look brilliant. Tudor’s combination of black and brown looks classy, especially with the gold details thrown in the mix. Furthermore, the color combination is not a one-to-one copy of the GMT-Master. This is an important detail that we see a lot when it comes to Tudor’s Rolex-inspired models. The brand injects the pieces with enough Tudor elements to make them its own.

What are the defining elements?

The defining element in its presence is, quite obviously, the handset. Have the designers gone overboard with three snowflake hands? Maybe they could have used a lollipop seconds hand, as they did on the Black Bay 54. But does it bother me? Not really. The Tudor snowflake hands have grown on me tremendously over time. Whereas I originally thought that they lacked elegance, I greatly respect them now for their quirky but standout character. They make sense, especially if you take a deep dive into the brand’s history.

And that’s also what I think about this Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G. I don’t question why it’s there. I get the story of the watch, and I like the defining spin that the Tudor designers put on it. And if there is one thing that I am personally a bit scared of with the Zulu Time GMT models, it’s that they are very likable based on generic elements. They look good at first glance, but won’t they get boring after a while? And Tudor critics will say, “Will you not get bored of not owning the real deal?” Perhaps they are right. But I know what I want from a watch, and it’s definitely not generic but defining elements.

A reason of being for these two watches

Thomas, as design freaks, you and I both know that good design is about these defining elements. They give designs appeal and longevity. And from experience, I know that intriguing designs that take a bit of time to get used to often stand the test of time better than designs that immediately feel comfortable. The question with the Longines Spirit Zulu Time is, what are its defining elements? What makes it more than an easily digestible design? Its attraction is that it feels very comfortable. For me, though, the most exciting version would be the stainless steel version with the green bezel. With this two-tone version, I just don’t feel any kind of spark, so a slimmer profile and better price become irrelevant to me. That’s why I’d choose the Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G every time.

Time to vote!

There you have it, folks — the battle of two hot two-tone GMTs. Will the steel and gold Longines Spirit Zulu Time get your vote, or are you a Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G fan? Make sure to vote for your choice below, and also let us know why you picked it in the comments. See you next week for another installment of Sunday Morning Showdown!

Longines Spirit Zulu Time vs. Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G