What is a GMT watch?

You may have heard of the Rolex GMT Master and if you’re a ‘watch person’ the term ‘GMT watch’ will be old news to you but for those still in the dark: a GMT watch is a watch that simultaneously shows the time in two different time zones. I’d never owned one before so I decided to build one and try out the concept during a trip abroad.

For the record, the one I built for myself was essentially a deconstructed Rotary Havana. Rotary are a solid brand at the affordable end of the market and I needed something robust and relatively inexpensive to play with, so I tracked down a second-hand one, took it apart, replaced the dial with one of my custom vintage pieces and replaced the bracelet with a cork strap (obviously). It’s a keeper.

Tom Corneill GMT shot by @paulosbornephotography

Tom Corneill GMT shot by @paulosbornephotography

I had a trip to New York coming up so figured what better way to try out the two-timezone thing. Cue another ‘one watch challenge’. Generally speaking - though there are now many elaborate variations - a GMT watch will feature the usual hour hand, minute hand and second hand but in addition there will be a fourth hand which completes only one rotation every 24 hours and is complimented by an outer bezel marked with intervals 1-24. When pulling the crown out to set the time, one of the stops is designated to the 24 hour hand (or ‘GMT hand’) so you can set it independently of the other hands. Once I was on the plane bound for JFK, I set the regular hands to the local time in NYC and set the GMT hand to…well, GMT.

Tom Corneill GMT taken on iPhone 7

Tom Corneill GMT taken on iPhone 7

Initially, having to work out the GMT time was a bit tricky as my eyes (and brain) just weren’t used to doing 24 hour analogue time but the further I got from home, the more fascinated I became with the time difference and (now checking every hour) I quickly became expert. It also meant I was able to catch up on People Just Do Nothing without having to back out to the info page on my little travel screen.

Tom Corneill GMT shot by @paulosbornephotography

Tom Corneill GMT shot by @paulosbornephotography

I was in NYC for 4 days in total and the 2-time thing became second nature pretty quickly so I can see why a frequent traveller would want one of these in their collection. I’m also pleased to say that my modified Rotary Havana was - in spite of the two-tone theme, which is normally not my thing - a pretty versatile piece to wear and it comfortably accompanied me to bars, guitar shops, thrift stores and even on an axe-throwing adventure (more on that soon). My biggest problem is that one watch is never quite enough and no matter how perfect, I’d always rather have a few options. So when travelling, do I now need a bunch of different GMTs?! I realise this is very much my problem and one which I’ll no doubt overcome in time ;)

Happy travelling.

TC

Tom Corneill GMT taken on iPhone 7

Tom Corneill GMT taken on iPhone 7