History is littered with watches that have been built to survive the most extreme of environments; we have a whole article on just that subject elsewhere in these pages. Most of them though date back to the golden age of exploration, the era of Sir Edmund Hillary and grand arctic crossings. The Charlie Paris Concordia GMT on the other hand, is a lot more modern.
Back in 2018 Matthieu Tordeur decided to cross Antarctica. But where Hillary did so with a full team and plenty of equipment, Tordeur opted to do it completely solo on skis, the youngest explorer ever to achieve the feat – and the first Frenchman. An expedition like that needs the right equipment, and timekeeper-wise that equipment was the original Charlie Paris Concordia.
The watch was designed with sub-zero temperatures in mind and, given the amount of snow, a good level of waterproofness. The result is a solid tool watch with a surprising level of elegance to it, aesthetically like a Fifty Fathoms compared to a Submariner. And in the latest version, the accessible French watchmaker has added a useful (if conversely less utilitarian) twist in the Concordia GMT.
Honestly, the Concordia suits a GMT nicely. While it has a tool watch case in 40mm of stainless steel, its slim bezel means there’s plenty of room to try new things, and the relatively sparse dial means that a bit of extra colour here and there wouldn’t go amiss – especially if that colour is a gorgeous chocolate hue.
Seriously, brown dials are incredibly underrated. The Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix Sepia is one of my dream watches, and while the Concordia isn’t in the same league (it’s over £20,000 less), the silky brown still has that kind of vintage feel to it. It’s a gradient dial, but only lightly so. It doesn’t go from light to dark as much as very dark to black, tying more into that vibe of time-worn fade.
That’s doubly true when you take into account the 24-hour day-night indicator around the periphery of the dial, which is half dial-matched brown, half pale beige, like it’s split between espresso and latte. The 24-hour indicator is a OCD-satisfying reflection of the bezel, down to the numerals, read using the black-bordered white arrow hand.
One of the more unusual touches on the Concordia is the crown. As it’s meant to be used in cold weather, it has to be operable in gloves (especially given how cold steel would get). That means you need an oversized crown. Rather than the usual fluted version you often see on pilot watches, Charlie Paris instead opted for a big, round, barrel-shaped version with plenty of grip. It’s incredibly tactile to use.
Should you use that crown you’ll find out that this is an office GMT rather than a ‘true’ GMT. That means you can quickly jump the GMT hand around the dial rather than the local hand. It’s a better complication for if you’re not actually travelling but need to keep track of your next international call. There’s a bit more prestige behind a ‘true’ GMT but honestly, I find this version more useful.
It’s powered by a Soprod C125 movement, a maker we’re seeing more and more of as ETA movements become harder to get hold of. It’s not just a second best though. Soprod have been making Swiss movements since the 60s and offer some seriously solid calibres – of which this is one. For the accuracy fanatics among you, it runs at 04/+6 seconds a day, which is decent at this price point, backed by a 40-hour power reserve.
On the wrist, the Concordia GMT is downright lovely. The proportions are just right, from the 40mm diameter to the 12.5mm thickness, with enough heft to suit what is ostensibly a tool watch but without feeling chunky. It’s versatile enough to wear with anything too, with that pared-back dial suiting the term ‘smart-casual’ more than most watches.
If I have one negative, it’s that the bezel is a bit slim to use easily. It’s just that touch too awkward to get a grip on. That stops it slipping accidentally if you did want to test out its impressive 300m water resistance, which is vital if you find yourself using it to keep track of how long you’ve been under. But for someone like me that just loves fiddling with a rotating bezel, it’s not the best.
The fact that that’s my only gripe about the Concordia GMT though speaks volumes. It’s well-built, well-designed and, underpinning it all, well-priced. It’s currently on pre-order for €1,232 on a strap or €1,284 on a bracelet, so just over £1,068/£1,113 in good, British money. But even at full retail, it’s a lot of watch for the money. And hey, it’s also good to know that if I ever pack up writing and decide to strike out solo across the icy wastes of the Arctic, I can rely on the Concordia to get me there. Even if I can’t rely on myself.
Price and Specs:
RRP €1,417 (approx. £1,234) (strap), €1,284 (approx. £1,280) (bracelet)
More details at Charlie Paris.