Some time ago, Matt from London (UK) sent us his question about the choice of a GMT, or Dual Time Zone watch. Matt would like to actually use a dual time zone function on a watch while travelling to locations with other time zones.
Matt’s dream watch, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5164, here pictured in rose gold instead of stainless steel; our review of this watch can be found here.
Here’s the full text of Matt’s question:
Dear Fratello Watches,
I’m keen to hear your thoughts on what watches you might recommend which have a dual time zone feature.
I travel frequently for work and whilst the short haul from London into Europe is not a problem, it would be nice to have a complication which shows the local time in addition to GMT when I’m heading west into the US…
The current collection includes a Seamaster, Speedmaster (Dark Side of the Moon) and Submariner so I’m all set for date and/or chronograph complications but I’m now looking for that dual time zone ability.
I’m particularly keen to hear what your recommendations are outside of the usual GMT Master-II, Sky-Dweller (which is a personal favourite) and my dream watch the [red. Patek Philippe] 5164A Aquanaut.
Bonus points for anything under £10k with a blue watch face would be fantastic (both the Omegas I own are black and the Sub is a Hulk – so I’m keen to add some more colour into the collection).
What I like is that Matt doesn’t want to have a Dual Time Zone watch just for the pleasure of the complication. No, he actually wants to use the function of it. This certainly determines the available watches of choice as well.
For practical use, the setting of the local time has to be easy and quickly. The watch has to have a possibility to adjust the local time, without changing the reference, or home time of the watch.
Watches using an ETA 2893-2 or Sellita SW330-1 movement, for instance, do not have that possibility. With that movement, the 24-hour GMT hand can be easily adjusted separately from the 12-hour local time indicated by the watch. However, changing the local time is not possible without simultaneously changing the 24-hour reference time.
This effectively rules out many of the cheaper solutions for a GMT or Dual Time Zone watch. But looking at the content of Matt’s question, and the level of watches he’s looking for, in this case, that seems not such a problem. Although ticking the blue dial box, the following Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time (found here) might probably be a bit too far up.
Our recommendations can’t go much further than the advice to look for a Dual Time Zone watch possible of easily adjusting the local time, separately from the home-reference or GMT time. For the rest, it’s very much a matter of personal taste. A personal preference for a brand, a taste for casing-shape, and a tase for dial color and details.
While Matt asked us not to look at the usual suspects, I’ll include a picture of one of them, which is his personal favorite, here below. Just to be sure. Especially because he indicates that a blue dial would add bonus points, from which the Rolex Sky-Dweller has a beautiful steel and white-gold version (reference 326934). Unfortunately, with a retail price of € 13.250,= (approximately £ 11.880,=) it won’t get Matt’s under £ 10k bonus points.
What many people sometimes forget is the, for instance, white dialed Explorer-II (reference 216570) of this same brand. It would add a different dial color to Matt’s collection, and with € 7.450,= (£ 6.680,=) it would be in the under £10k bonus points. More important possibly, the Rolex Explorer-II does have the same easy to operate changing of the local 12-hour time. It’s able to just change the hour hand per hour, without changing the 24-hour GMT hand.
Matt didn’t mention that he would consider a pre-owned watch, however, I like to mention here that the ancestor of above mentioned Explorer-II, the reference 16570, can still be found as a complete set and in like new condition for less than € 5.000,=. Here’s an example of the 16570.
The Dual Time Zone watch which still amazes me most is the Ulysse Nardin GMT +/- Perpetual. This brainchild of Ludwig Oechslin was introduced by Ulysse Nardin at the end of the nineties. A marvel of complexity, however, as easy to operate as possible. Two little pushers, signed + and -, change the hour hand forth- and backward while leaving the 24-hand alone. Mind you, these pushers don’t only advance the hour hand, they operate the complete perpetual calendar. Indeed, back and forth that is. A review on this watch including some background information and my personal experiences with it can be found here.
Of course, this is not a watch in the same price league as we’re looking for here. However pre-owned they can be found just above the £10k mark. Not sure if Matt is into yellow or rose gold watches at all, but I found a white gold one at this price level as well.
Further Dual Time Zone watches can be found with many brands, like IWC, Breitling, Panerai, and Omega. While browsing I found two watches which I would like to specifically mention here because they’re probably not that obvious.
The first one is the Chopard LUC GMT One. LUC’s first watch with GMT functionality, and a very attractive one. It has a black dial, however, sports some color in it as well. And with CHF 9.880,= it doesn’t cross the £ 10k line. Might be a watch to consider for Matt. More information on this watch can be found at Chopard’s website www.chopard.com
And my second proposal is to have a look at Grand Seiko. They have GMT models in almost any of their movement types, Quartz, Spring-Drive, and Hi-Beat Automatic. And in all of their model lines, like Elegance, Heritage and Sports. Grand Seiko dials are among the most beautiful in the world, and the finishing of case and movement are absolute top-level. Certainly worth further investigation at www.grand-seiko.com.
This article is in no way meant to be complete on GMT and/or Dual Time Zone watches. Our goal was to emphasize the importance of an easy adjustment of the local time, without disrupting the reference time. And to propose Matt and our other readers, watches which one would probably not immediately think of when thinking of GMT watches.
If you should have a question for us to answer as well, please don’t hesitate to contact us through our contact form.
Gerard has been in the watch industry for over two decades now. He owned a watch shop in The Hague, The Netherlands, and besides that he has journalistic and photographic activities in the field of watches. Collecting watches since he... read more