The simple craft of time-telling is the basic feature of a watch. When you add any additional feature – for example date or perpetual calendar – it becomes a complication. Like the term, it is quite complicated to add anything to a watch, and to get it to work precisely, effortlessly and accurately. Nothing short of a miracle, but watchmakers have managed to get the synchronicities right, and when it came to matching the demands of the aviation industry, the complication of telling dual time – time from the home country and the time of the destination – they have far exceeded expectations.
Right from the time Pan Am commissioning Rolex to make their GMT for the pilots, to a distinct Patek Philippe crafting the Aquanaut, we all have come to appreciate the value of a Dual Time watch. Below is a collection of the best travel watches of our times.
Rolex GMT-Master II
The iconic GMT-Master comes with some serious heritage to its background. We all know the Pan Am story and how Rolex was asked to make watches for the pilots who traveled far and wide, crossing multiple time zones on their way. Continuing the legacy, we have the GMT-Master II BLRO known by many as “Pepsi” and BLNR a.k.a “Batman”, a watch with a bidirectional rotatable bezel, in single or two-colors and 24-hour Graduated Cerachrom insert in two color ceramic. You can set the time on the watch to show GMT time and make use of the bezel to set your second timezone.
What makes the watch stand out, is the use of high-technology ceramic, which is incorporated in the monobloc bezels and monobloc bezel inserts. Said to be corrosion-resistant, you can expect the material to be scratchproof.
I like how the colors of the bezel are intense and remain unaffected by UV rays (Unlike the old ceramic version – but hey don’t we all love some vintage charm of the 1675?). Sporting a Jubilee bracelet for the 2018 and 2019 Basel release, and teamed with Oysterlock safety clasp, the watch sits comfortable on the wrist. Under the hood is a calibre 3285 – self-winding mechanical movement – which is a new generation of movement. It has been developed and made by Rolex and it promises a power reserve of approximately 70 hours.
The steel version goes for $8300, while the other two gold options rage from $33100 to $36000. Overall, the GMT Master is hard to get your hands on, the grey market quoting you above 60% to 70% of the official price.
Nomos Zürich World Time Reference 805
I find most Nomos watches very enigmatic, as if they have a story to tell of times gone by. A look at the dial of the Nomos Zürich World Time Reference 805, and you will know what I mean. It has a lot going, yet Nomos has managed to keep the face very simple, clean and direct – conveying to you that this watch will tell you time for more than one city, without ever confusing you. Think about it, Nomos Zürich World Time Reference 805 is like having 24 watches packed into one. With the push of a button, and you can know what is the time in Alaska, Honolulu or Sydney!
This 40 mm watch has a stainless steel, tripartite case and a sapphire crystal glass back. The DUW 5201 automatic movement under the hood, uses its power to tell you the time at home, and at 23 other cities across the globe. Of course, it shows time for the ‘other’ city, one at a time, and not collectively. That would be so confusing! The power reserve is of 42 hours only, which is not too much. The proprietary escapement, the NOMOS swing system, is the other highlight of the watch.
I like the elegant way with which Nomos bundles the watch with an elegant full grain leather wallet. Teamed with the Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan black strap, the watch looks very classy. Ideal for those who cross many borders on a daily basis, or those who work with several global partners, the watch is not too heavy on your wallet, you can pocket this watch for $4100.
Audemars Piguet ROYAL OAK Dual Time
It is impossible not to fall in love with the iconic design of Audemars Piguet watches, and when they sport complications like Dual Time, the desire of owning a piece, becomes only stronger. What I love about this watch is the blue dial with its “Grande Tapisserie” pattern and the trademark Royal Oak hands.
The stainless steel case matches the blue hue of the timepiece, and it goes well with the hand stitched large-square scale, blue alligator strap. The stainless steel AP folding clasp, just goes on to complete the elegance and smart looks. A simple watch, in terms of the complications – it tells time of only one other city – the one you set it for.
Although the case is only 39 mm wide, it looks a lot bigger and gives the illusion of being a wholesome watch on your wrist. The Self-winding Calibre 2329 / 2846, is powered by the movements of your wrist. This in turn generates a power reserve of only 38-hours. The watch is water resistant up to 50 meters. It does cause a dent in your wallet, at $21,000 a piece.
Patek Philippe AQUANAUT 5164A
Totally loving the rounded octagonal design of the Aquanaut, Patek Philippe made a splash when they introduced the series in 1997. Inspired by the Nautilus, the Reference 5164 Aquanaut Travel Time showcases the time in two different time zones very easily and at a single glance. If you observe the dial, you will notice that the watch sports two differently designed center hour hands.
The hand that is solid in design, showcases the local time (or destination time), and the skeletonized hand showcases the home time. The choice in the dial is between the black embossed dial or the brown embossed dial, and the finishing of Stainless Steel and Rose Gold, respectively.
The ‘tropical’ strap is quite distinct and crafted from materials that are resistant to wear-and-tear of salt water and UV radiation. Water resistant to 120 m, under the hood beats a self-winding movement with 45 hours of power reserve. This 40.8 mm watch has the ability to display only one time-zone if required.
The two hour-hands move as one, if needed. The only thing you need to keep an eye out for, while setting the second time zone – is to check for the day/night indicator. Retailed for $36,400 it is close to $55,000 on the grey market, and just like GMT Master II, it is very hard to get one.
Grand Seiko Elegance Collection – SBGJ217
Very much like the Nomos watches, the Grand Seiko Elegance Collection – SBGJ217, has a very retro vibe to it. The GMT hand for this watch shows the time in the home time zone, and the overall vibe of the dial is very ‘retro-modern’.
Under the hood is Caliber 9S85 (Automatic with manual winding capacity), and as we can see, when compared to the others in this list, a 55-hours power reserve provided by the movement, is the second to the Rolex watch, and not bad! Crafted in Stainless Steel, the 39.5 mm diameter watch reminds me of a family heirloom that can be passed down to generations.
The Crocodile leather strap adds to the elegance of the watch, and I suppose it also compliments the three-fold clasp with push button release. In terms of functionality, the watch only brings out the GTM complication, and nothing more. I like the simplicity of the design, and it may appeal to those who believe in classic styles. Price is approx $7000.