2022 is the year of affordable GMTs. More than it is the year of a new dial color. The 2022 edition of the Wind Up Watch Fair in New York City highlighted a few trends—handmade dials, smaller but more robust cases—but more importantly, affordable GMTs. By affordable I mean watches that don’t cost several thousands of dollars to acquire, but something like around $2,000 and well below. With a few exceptions, GMTs that cost around that much have a “caller” GMT caliber and not a “true” GMT one, meaning that in the former case, it is the GMT hand that jumps and not the local hour hand. Rolex created the first true GMT (I will no longer use the quotation marks starting…now) when it launched the GMT Master 2. But how much does a GMT Master 2 cost? Exactly my point.
In this article, I will discuss the reasons why I personally prefer a caller GMT over a true GMT. Mainly: ease to use and to service. So let’s dig in!
What Are True GMTs?
I travel a lot (or used to before COVID-19) but not enough to need a true GMT movement. The point of a true GMT movement *a la* GMT Master 2 is that adjusting the local hour hand only takes a few seconds once the GMT hand has been set. As a reminder, the GMT Master 2 was designed for airline pilots that jump from one time zone to another and back and forth all the time. They set the GMT hand to indicate GMT time (the reference time used by all pilots) and adjust the local hour hand when arriving at their new destination.
It does make sense, doesn’t it?
I can easily imagine being a pilot flying out from Los Angeles and landing in Paris the next day and only having to adjust the local hand one direction or another when landing, whilst always knowing the GMT time so that I don’t miss my next flight. It’s a process, I imagine, that takes one minute at most. However, a true GMT really only makes sense for pilots. I would argue that 99.99% of the human population doesn’t need a true GMT movement, but a caller GMT instead since most of us don’t travel that much. And even if you travel a lot, you don’t actually need to change the local time that often.
You truly don’t.
Caller GMTs are Easier to Setup
So, as someone who does travel but who mostly needs a GMT to keep track of time in different time zones where my family or a client lives, I need a caller and not a true GMT. For my intended use, a caller GMT is easier to set up because I can adjust the GMT hand quite easily to change which time zone I want to track. I switch back and forth between a sister-in-law who lives in a different part of Europe, or my best friend lives on the East Coast of the United States, or a client who is located in Singapore and who I’m working on an important project with.
If I had a true GMT, I would have to change the GMT hand first and then adjust the local hour hand when switching the target time zone, and perhaps the date as well by moving the local hour hand clockwise to change it (instead of pulling the crown to the second position which is not possible with a true GMT.) As you can imagine, that would be a process that isn’t practical, at least not for my intended use. That’s why I prefer caller GMTs as they are easier to use. And you know what, they’re always much cheaper!
Caller GMTs Are Cheaper
Indeed, in 2022 one can acquire a good quality caller GMT for less than $500. Yes, I’m talking about the Seiko 5 GMT SSK line that was released earlier this year and that retails for $470. I’m also referring to the new Nodus Sector GMT that retails for $450. (The Nodus has better specifications than the Seiko and it uses the NH34 movement.) And one can go up the price ladder to get Swiss made watches, for example the Maen Hudson GMT that retails for $799 on pre-order and the newly released MONTA Skyquest that retails for $2,400.
GMT watches are all the rage in 2022. Actually, I think that people have always liked this style of watch but they are more popular now because they are more affordable. Two years ago, there was no sub-$1,000 GMT available. And although affordable GMTs became a reality thanks to Seiko’s NH34 movement—a true revolution for the independent watch industry—now brands manage to release Swiss made caller GMTs for less than $1,000. But regardless of how much they cost, I prefer caller GMTs over true GMTs for the fact that they are easier to setup, to use, and also to own.
What are your thoughts? Please leave your comments below.
Featured image: @mainspring.watch