Given how advanced smartphones and smartwatches have become, it’s quite interesting to me that the demand for mechanical tool watches hasn’t decreased. The latest Apple Watch Pro does more than any mechanical watch ever could: better, more accurately and for less money as well. So, technically, we don’t need mechanical tool watches. Then again, we do ask for them, and we want them to be better and cheaper. If there is one type of watch I could see adding to my collection one day would be a GMT diver: a dive watch to which a GMT complication was added, not where a dive time bezel was replaced by a 24-hour bezel. These watches are incredibly functional, and today, we’re going to take a closer look at them.
The GMT Divers I Don’t Like
Oftentimes when brands create a GMT, they tend to transform one of their divers into a traveler’s watch instead of creating a brand new model. Think of the Rolex GMT Master II which is simply a Submariner with a GMT hand and bezel (I would add that Rolex is guilty of having used the same case and dial design across too many of its collections). Many brands have done the same; micro and independent brands are to blame as well. Personally, I find transforming a dive watch into a GMT a bit lazy as it only requires changing the movement and bezel insert of an existing model. This means one cannot longer time a dive but instead can track time a different time zone. What’s the point? These watches tend to retain their original water resistance so it’s a bit odd to see, for example, a 300m GMT watch which cannot be used to time a dive.
This trend has become quite popular in the past two years ever since Seiko released the NH34 movement and Miyota the 9075 true GMT caliber. Although I don’t know what goes into making a GMT bezel compared to making a dive time one, or if adding a GMT movement requires more than just swapping calibers inside a case, I would imagine that it doesn’t require extensive work. This is why, all of a sudden, dozens upon dozens of divers became GMTs overnight. This was low hanging fruit for many brands but, two years later, we finally see brands designing more thoughtful GMTs that offer additional functionality: tracking a second time zone and timing an event up to 60 minutes.
My Ideal Modern Tool Watch
I’m an officially certified amateur diver which means that I can dive down to 40 meters of depth maximum (anything deeper is considered professional diving). I wouldn’t dive anywhere near my home — in the suburbs of Paris — which means that I would have to hop on a plane and fly for at least 10 hours to find myself a nice diving spot. This means I’m in a different timezone and I would appreciate being able to keep an eye on the time at home (or where my best friend lives if I’m traveling with my spouse). Since I dive, I do find it useful to have a count up or count down bezel. I’m not a dive instructor and I don’t care about using a dive computer. So, I love using a mechanical watch to time my dive. That’s one of my little guilty pleasures which completes the experience for me. Source: www.watchclicker.com
This is why a GMT diver comes in handy. Again, here I mean a watch that combines decent depth rating (at least 100 meters) with a dive bezel, a GMT hand and a GMT scale. This way I can do everything I need a watch to do and more. I don’t care for chronographs as they are generally not the ideal travel companion given their minimum water resistance. I do care for a robust tool watch that has multiple complications. The great thing about being a watch enthusiast today is that we have endless options in the independent market. The photos I’ve been using in this article showcase some of my favorite ones: the Lorier Hydra III, the Circula AquaSport GMT, and the Heinrich Taucher 2 GMT.
Naturally, we all like different things. Most days I prefer to wear small time-only watches as I find them to be just what I need 99% of the time (they are sublimely comfortable to wear all day). However, whenever I picture myself traveling, I do imagine wearing a GMT. I do find GMT-only watches to be limited in their functionality. Why not go all the way and combine the functionality of a diver and GMT? These watches don’t seem to cost that much more to make, especially when using the Seiko NH34 caliber. Nowadays, even true GMTs using the Miyota 9075 are rather attainable and can be found under the magical $1,000 price limit.Featured image: www.hodinkee.com