The Rolex GMT-Master line has always been the kind of perfect travel watch. Hugely reliable, subtle or with a bit of flash, a good reason for having come into existence.
Yet in today’s world, way too attention-getting for some. When walking around even the right areas of the right cities (outside Harrod’s, really?) can make wearing your favorite watch a bit of a challenge, what do you do? Let us forego the question of whether or not you can get your hands on a new GMT, let us assume you can but just don’t want to use it.
Let us look then at some travel-oriented watches that can be more usable and less attention-getting and why they work.
The cream dial Grand Seiko GMT (SBGM221)
I always go to this watch. In any showroom in any country, I always go check this watch. I find it a wonderful elegant piece at a fantastic price point. It isn’t limited or a special edition, it is just a wonderful example of why many enthusiasts loved Grand Seiko before it took off for the rest of the world. Not at all too attention-getting, flexible enough for most uses.
PF Tonda GMT
This is a new one from an old-ish name. Michel Parmigiani is the name many connect to keeping priceless vintage timepieces going in the style to which they have become accustomed. From him was born the brand Parmigiani Fleurier, which always has a small presentation booth in Geneva at the SIHH and held presentations just around the corner. PF (the logo you see on their watches) has made great strides over late with the involvement of industry hand and PF CEO Guido Terreni in charge of an energized new team. We have always liked Parmigiani Fleurier because of the level of detail they bring to their watches, and for the innovations they brought to movements. Sometimes though one complicated the other. This new PF GMT Rattrapante has kind of everything gotten just right. It is a stainless steel case on a stainless steel bracelet, but it has wonderful dial detail with a barleycorn guilloche face. The hands, there are three of them but no seconds hand, are skeletonized and sleek so you actually see the dial through them as well. The case lugs are the teardrop-shaped type familiar to those who know the brand, but take on a different feel with the integrated bracelet and look wonderful. They seem supportive of the overall look with a push-button being the nod to the sumptuousness of previous teardrop lugs. The shaping and finishing of those lugs was always a hallmark of the level of attention to detail that all parts of the Parmigiani Fleurier watches would show. Plus they are functional in that the push button acts on the third hand, the “Home is Gold” hand which I think is the way it should be and is perhaps my favorite detail. The local time-telling hands are rhodium-plated white gold, the 18k rose gold hand slides underneath the local hour hand when not travelling. When you activate the pusher, the local time moves to wherever it needs to be, keeping the gold pointing to home time. It is a 12-hour GMT, not a 24 so you just need to keep track of AM or PM which isn’t a big deal at all and in fact may make you feel more connected to home. Also, the cleanliness and minimalism of the dial really puts focus on the craftsmanship.
Tudor Black Bay Pro
Quite an interest-gatherer, this one. A two-time one watch because the bezel doesn’t move. Subtle and clean but looking quite the tool watch. The slightly smaller dimensions maybe make it more wearable for some than the other GMTs of the brand. And you can really look back to see some of the models of the crown with a similar look. This may well be the low-key everyday travel watch for most. Perfect on the steel bracelet.
A favorite small independent watchmaker, they bring a different aesthetic and level of attention to the enthusiast world. The Ming 22.01 is their latest release, a nice clean GMT with a clean face and a look that manages to combine thinking of the past with a vision of the future. Two different versions actually, using Sellita movements decorated and shown through a sapphire crystal back. Ming is one of those companies that is pretty much internet-only purchases, which actually levels the playing field for those that complain that only the privileged get the watches they want. Which is kind of how this whole article started. Learn more please before you decide you want what everyone else wants. Ming is a great independent started by enthusiasts with great horological chops. They have been awarded a GPHG prize, and are both serious and fun. And in tracking how their sales process goes, we can safely say that if you want one when they are released you have every chance of getting one.