The Rolex GMT-Master made its debut in the 1950s. While it wasn’t the first travel-focused watch, it definitely set the standard and cemented the connection between timepieces and globetrotting.
It showed two time zones at once, didn’t require any mechanical resetting, and was extremely easy to read. But things have come a long way since the ’50s, so while the GMT is classic, there’s a new group of travel watches pushing the genre even farther.
Here are five top choices for your Memorial Day weekend getaway (even if it’s just to that bar down the block).
Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite
The Senator Cosmopolite is a dressed-up travel watch that can display both your home time and local time in any of 37 time zones. I bet you can’t even name all 37 time zones. City codes pop up in the daylight savings time and standard time windows around 8 o’clock, with the special half-hour and quarter-hour zones shown in blue and red.
Setting is easy: You just rotate the crown by the windows. And unlike many watches in the genre, the Senator Cosmopolite can go forward and backward without harming the mechanism. $43,500 (red gold) $45,300 (white gold)
Georg Jensen Koppel GMT
The Koppel GMT is about as minimal a travel watch as you’re going to find. The long, slim hands and subtle dot markers are the same as what you’ll find on the more reserved time-only Koppel, but there are two important additions to the dial.
At 12 o’clock is the graphic power reserve indicator (bigger dot, more power) and the 24-hour dial down at 6 o’clock. You just set it to another time zone and it acts like an out-of-the-way GMT hand without requiring that you clutter things up with a fourth central hand. $3,850
Seiko Spring Drive GMT Limited Edition
While it uses the familiar GMT format pioneered by the Rolex GMT (a central hand that makes one rotation every 24 hours to track the second time zone), the proprietary Spring Drive movement keeps things interesting.
Essentially Spring Drive uses a wound spring as a power source, just like any other mechanical watch, but then regulates the motion of the hands with an electronic regulator. Think of it as a middle ground between a mechanical and a quartz watch. Only 200 pieces will be made with the limited edition green dial, which you could easily stare at for hours. $5,100
Arnold & Son DTE
The Double Tourbillon Escapement (DTE for short) is all about symmetry. There are two tourbillons and two time zones, each logically placed across from the other. The top dial with Roman numerals can track the time back home, while the Arabic numerals (better for days off) make sure you keep your dinner reservation.
The pair of clear dials is useful, and the pair of tourbillons entertaining (if excessive). I wouldn’t expect anything else from Arnold & Son. $215,850 (red gold) $218,865 (white gold)
Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum
Confusing name, great watch. The Orbis Terrarum is a full world-timer that lets you see the time concurrently in 24 time zones. You also get a nifty map of the northern hemisphere (sorry, friends Down Under) that changes from light to dark as the sun rises and sets across the continents.
It was one of my favorite watches from SIHH this year and four months later, I’m still wishing for one on my wrist. $5,800 (steel) $16,100 (rose gold)
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