The double bezel colors on a classic GMT watch are aesthetically pleasing enough on their own. Collectors who buy GMTs, though, aren’t solely interested in aesthetics. If you buy a watch with a GMT movement, you’re interested in utilizing the unique movement complication to track multiple time zones with ease.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that an unexpected global pandemic hampered your access to international travel for an extended period of time. Of course, the possibility of this ever happening seems remote, but let’s just imagine a world in which that’s possible. If that ever were to happen, you might have placed your GMT watches in a gorgeous watch rollrather than on your wrist. After all, wearing a GMT complication would just tantalizingly remind you of what you couldn’t have.
Again for the sake of argument, let’s say that international travel starts to heat up again and borders are easier to cross. It might be time to put a brand new rubber strap on your Rolex GMT-Master II and start tracking time zones again. Yet it’s possible that in the intervening months, your GMT skills may have gotten a little rusty. Never fear. We’re here to refresh your memory on how to set and read a watch with a GMT complication -- specifically the GMT-Master II. (Or, if you’re more of a visual learner, check out our video on setting the watch.)
True GMT watches have a fully independent 24-hour hand, and most use an arrow hand marker to indicate which is the 24-hour hand. When it comes to Rolex GMT movements, both caliber 3186 and caliber 3285 have a fully independent GMT hand. On the GMT-Master II, placing the crown in the third position moves the GMT hand and the minute hand. With the crown in the second position, the hour hand can move independently from the GMT hand. That’s important to recall before starting the setting process.
How to Track Two Time Zones With a GMT Complication
Let’s start small, with domestic travel. It’s not hard to remember that New York and L.A. are three hours apart, but a GMT watch saves you from having to do that constant calculation in your head. So first, we’ll cover setting 2 time zones without using the bezel.
How to Track Three Time Zones With a GMT Complication
Now let’s move to international travel. We’ve already established that you’re based in NYC and your business partner resides in L.A. You’re heading to Basel, Switzerland to check out the 2021 HourUniverse exhibition, of course. How can you use your GMT complication to track all three of these time zones?
We hope this quick primer helps you review the GMT complication if you’re hoping to get on a plane any time in the near future. Plus, don’t forget to prepare for travel by changing the look of your GMT-Master with a new rubber or leather strap.
Written by Meghan Clark