What makes a true GMT? And do you need one?

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What makes a true GMT? And do you need one?

What makes a true GMT? And do you need one?
What makes a true GMT? And do you need one?
18 Jun 2021

When you're a busy entrepreneur or executive, your time is currency. You need a watch that can keep up whatever time zone you’re in, or even synchronize your schedule with a client or colleague abroad. GMT watches are favourites by the business person on-the-go, thanks to their elegant way of telling the time on two different time zones while brandishing a stylish wrist piece that evokes stature and old world charm.


The importance of tracking time in different time zones is not a modern invention. While time standards were already an important part of astronomy, the demarcation of the Greenwich Mean Time was made revolutionary in the 1700s, when British mariners found their positions at sea by measuring the longitude against the time set in London. Because of its effects on trade and commerce, GMT became the world standard time with every other time zone in the world measured against it. Today, the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) has replaced the GMT as the time standard, but we still use GMT to refer to the time zones in the UK, Africa and other European countries.

Rootbeer Rolex GMT-II in Two-tone Steel

Rootbeer Rolex GMT-II in Two-tone Steel, image by Chrono95.com 

As the world became more interconnected with the arrival of commercial flights, the need to keep time in two different time zones led to the invention of the first ever GMT watch in 1953, thanks to a little-known brand called Glycine. Rolex then released their iconic GMT Master in 1954 which led to this classic piece on the wrists of PanAm pilots, and eventually, on every entrepreneur and executive in demand internationally.



GMT watches can easily be confused with dual-time watches, but while they solve the same problem, GMT watches function a little differently. Dual-time watches show time simultaneously with a timeface that bears two sub-dials, while a GMT watch is recognizable through its 24-hour bezel and a third hand tracking the home time. Some, like the iconic “Pepsi” Rolex GMT-Master II, have rotatable bezels that are colour-coded red and blue for an easy-glance division between daytime and nighttime. 


Pepsi Rolex GMT-II Master in Steel

Pepsi” Rolex GMT-II Master in Steel, image from Chrono95.com


“True” GMT Watches

At the same time, not all GMT watches are created equal, at least according to horology enthusiasts who value accurate timekeeping no matter where they are in the globe. 


With standard GMT watches, the 2nd hour-hand points to the GMT home time, allowing for easy reference and you can set it to any time zone you need to keep track of. This is helpful if you’re synching schedules for a Zoom call or trying to find the most convenient time to meet. However, if you need to change the local time after an international flight, you need to stop the watch to adjust the hour hand and the home-time hand, which can lead to inaccuracies that may cost you your flight. This is why standard GMT watches are dubbed as “office” GMTs.


A true GMT watch is a “traveller’s” GMT watch, where setting the local time can be done by simply “jumping” the hour hand to the local time, without adjusting the minute hand or the GMT hand. The date is also tied to the local time, versus the standard GMT’s date which is based on the home time.


Batgirl Rolex GMT-II in Steel

Batgirl Rolex GMT-II in Steel, image from Chrono95.com 


Is It For You?

That said, is a true GMT watch for you? If you’re the kind of wristwatch enthusiast who places great value on accuracy and history, the true GMT watch is a worthy addition to your collection. Not only is it rich in storied background, but its function and impeccable style establishes your world traveller status. 

Find the true GMT watch for you at chrono95.com.