If you’ve ever shopped online for a watch, chances are you’ve come across the term GMT. This stands for Greenwich Mean Time, but generally refers to a watch that can display two different time zones at once. Hence, GMT watches are also known as dual-time watches. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or simply appreciate the functionality of tracking multiple time zones, a GMT watch is a handy timekeeper to own.

 

Purpose of a GMT Watch

GMT watches were originally developed to help pilots keep track of both local and home time during long-haul flights, providing them with an easy reference tool right on their wrist. But over time, they’ve gained popularity among casual watch wearers for their practical and stylish design. Today, GMT watches are favored by anyone needing to manage two time zones simultaneously, such as military personnel, frequent business travelers, and globetrotters who want to keep track of time back home while exploring the world. (They also have the added benefit of giving you one less reason to reach for your phone to check the time while you're on the move!)

 

Understanding the Bezel on a GMT Watch 

Most GMT watches have a two-tone colored bezel with a 24-hour index indicating the 24 hours in a day. This colored bezel is one of the most iconic features of a GMT, and helps you distinguish between daytime and nighttime hours in the second time zone you’re tracking.

Take a look at our Waterbury Traditional GMT, for example. It has a blue and black bezel, with blue indicating daytime hours and black indicating nighttime:

 

What is the GMT Hand? 

You probably also noticed a bright blue 4th hand on our Waterbury Traditional GMT—this is called the GMT hand. In addition to its primary hour hand, which is usually set according to your current location and completes a full rotation twice every 24 hours, a GMT watch has an additional hand known as a GMT hand. The GMT hand points to the hour in the GMT time zone you’re tracking and makes only one full rotation every 24 hours.

The Waterbury GMT featuring a blue and black bezel along with a textured synthetic rubber strap

 

How to Set & Read Your GMT Watch 

To read both your local time and a second time zone, you can set the GMT hand by adjusting it separately from the main hour hand. This varies from watch to watch but can usually be done by pulling the crown to the first position to move the GMT hand in one direction and set the date in the other.

A common approach is to align the GMT hand with your home time zone and then synchronize the main hands with the local time of the place you’re traveling to. This makes it easy to quickly read your home time, but how you choose to set your GMT watch is ultimately up to you.

 

What is a ‘true’ GMT? 

As we mentioned before, a GMT watch has a GMT hand that can be set independently from the main hour hand to track a second time zone. However, some GMT watches take it a step further by also allowing you to independently adjust the main hour hand—these are known as ‘true’ GMT watches.

The main benefit of a ‘true’ GMT watch is convenience, as it allows for seamless tracking of multiple time zones without disrupting the primary time display. This makes 'true' GMT watches particularly useful for travelers—such as flight attendants, pilots, or digital nomads—who regularly cross time zones and may need to adjust their local time more frequently than most.

 

Timex x James Brand GMT 

If you’re considering adding a ‘true’ GMT to your watch collection or know someone who would appreciate one, be sure to check out our recent collaboration with The James Brand. The Timex x James Brand GMT, featuring a premium 24-jewel Miyota 9075 automatic ‘true’ GMT movement, also boasts GMT indexes on both the reflector ring and the rotating top ring, giving you the ability to track a third zone, too.

  • TWG065500 Timex x The James Brand Automatic GMT 41mm Titanium Bracelet Watch Box Set Primary Image
    Timex x The James Brand Automatic GMT 41mm Titanium Bracelet Watch Box Set
    41 mm Titanium/Titanium
    $749.00

 

Why GMT Watches are Popular 

GMT watches are popular in the watch scene because they give you the best of both words: practicality and style. Their bezels come in a wide spectrum of color combos, with popular choices including black and blue, red and blue, or even bold contrasts like black and orange. So, not only do they provide a simple way to know what time it is in different corners of the world, but they add a sophisticated—and sometimes playful—element to your look. 

 

SHOP OUR FAVORITE GMT WATCHES: 

  • Waterbury Traditional GMT 39mm Synthetic Rubber Strap Watch
    Waterbury Traditional GMT 39mm Synthetic Rubber Strap Watch
    39 mm Black/Stainless Steel/Black/Stainless Steel
    $199.00
  • Waterbury Traditional GMT 39mm Leather Strap Watch
    Waterbury Traditional GMT 39mm Leather Strap Watch
    39 mm Black/Stainless Steel/Black/Stainless Steel
    $199.00
  • Waterbury Traditional GMT 39mm Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch
    Waterbury Traditional GMT 39mm Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch
    39 mm Stainless Steel/Stainless Steel/Black/Stainless Steel
    $219.00
  • TW2V74000VQ Waterbury Traditional GMT 39mm Leather Strap Watch primary image
    Waterbury Traditional GMT 39mm Leather Strap Watch
    39 mm Tan/Stainless Steel/Black
    $199.00
 

 

KEY TAKEAWAY: 

With the power to track two time zones at once, GMT watches redefine convenience and functionality in timekeeping. They’re simple to set and read, and they make a nice fashion statement thanks to their two-toned bezels. But most of all, GMT watches are extremely handy—whether you travel often or want to stay in sync with loved ones living across the globe, these dual-time watches make it easy to do so. 

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