A chronograph, a moon phase, a tourbillon… all are ingenious complications that represent the art of watchmaking. When it comes to everyday use and practicality, however, the GMT complication comes very much in handy. The GMT complication is a sensible investment that originated in the 1950’s when transcontinental flights became more common. Since then, the watch has remained on the wrists of pilot’s, jet setters, and watch enthusiast who find the practical functionality of a GMT timepiece worthwhile.
Some of the most popular GMT models in the world of fine timepieces today include the Rolex GMT Master II, the Breitling Navitimer GMT and the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT.
A fitting complication for globetrotters
For those of us who find ourselves starting the day in London but winding down for the night in New York, the everyday use of a GMT complication is invaluable. Indeed, the ingenuity of the GMT watch lays in its simplicity. The dial of the watch features 2 hands – one that points to the home time and another which points to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or alternatively to the local time in the current time zone of the wearer.
Another special feature incorporated into some GMT timepieces is a compass function. These watches allow their wearers to orient themselves by synchronising the GMT with the current time. As long as a wearer of these watches orients the bezel to align with the direction of the sun, they will be able to orient themselves. If the watch is being worn in the northern hemisphere, the 12-hour hand will point north, whereas if the watch is being worn in the southern hemisphere the 12-hour hand will point south.
Attractive bezel aesthetics
It goes without saying that GMT watches are loved for their convincing design elements. These timepieces are often the favourites of those with a tendency to favour colourful accents. One of the most popular GMT watches in the world of fine timepiece today is none other than the Rolex GMT-Master “Pepsi”, which, as made evident by its playful nickname, features a bold blue and black bezel. Simple yet distinctive colour pronunciations are an undeniable benefit of GMT watches. Other popular models include the Nomos Tangomat GMT and the Panerai Radiomir GMT. In addition to vibrant aesthetics, GMT watch bezels are also popular thanks to an addition function of the bezel. GMT timepieces feature bi-directional bezels, meaning that they can be rotated in both directions.
A remedy to jet lag
Frequent flyers are well aware of dreaded and unpleasant jet lag symptoms. There are many tips to circumvent fatigue and exhaustion when travelling – the most helpful being to switch to the local time of the destination before the trip. Here is where a GMT watch comes in handy. Owners of these exquisite timepieces are able to set the home time to the local time of their destination one or two days prior to their trip. The GMT hand can then be set to the home time, allowing the wearer to try and adjust their circadian rhythm prior to their trip, which is a clever solution for a widespread problem.
The perfect complication for pilots and aviation enthusiasts
GMT timepieces have always been interlinked with air travel. After all, the GMT complication was developed by Rolex for pilot’s, as they needed and easier way to keep track of multiple time zones when intercontinental became more prevalent. Interestingly, the GMT-Master was designed in cooperation with PAN Am – a popular American Airline in the 1950’s. Since then, GMT timepieces have been valued tools for pilots and frequent travellers as well as beloved instruments for aviation enthusiasts.