Time Travellers: The Best GMT Watches Under £5,000 - Oracle Time
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Time Travellers: The Best GMT Watches Under £5,000

Watches are largely redundant these days: you know it, we know it. Phones don’t need a complex perpetual calendar mechanism to know when there’s a leap year, a quick Google search will tell you the current lunar phase, and digital readers accurately illustrate how much oxygen is left before a diver needs to resurface. And yet, here in 2020, there’s something about the inherent usefulness of a GMT complication that keeps its popularity high.

Whatever the reasoning, a GMT is a must-have for any would-be collector – and these pieces offer you the best of the current crop, without necessarily breaking the bank.

Tudor Black Bay GMT, £2,800

Tudor Black Bay GMT

Bold statement time: the Black Bay is the single most effective new watch collection of the past decade. Despite Tudor’s long and illustrious history, the line’s launch in 2012 was the start of the watchmaker stepping out of big brother Rolex’s shadow in the modern era and being respected as a leading watchmaker in its own right. The GMT is a great example as to why. Yes, its colourway is more than a little similar to the GMT-Master II, but look past that and you see a bold tool watch design with a touch of vintage flair. For £2,800 on a leather strap, you get an in-house-manufactured movement that boasts a 70-hour power reserve, anti-magnetism and a case that is waterproof to 200m. Tudor likes to impress upon the media that it is the undisputed king of value, and honestly we’d be hard pressed to disagree.

More details at tudorwatch.com

Seiko Prospex LX GMT Black Edition, £4,200

GMT Seiko Prospex LX GMT Black Edition

Seiko’s new Prospex LX line is the kind of big strapping watch you want to take home to your mother; rugged and manly, with just enough of an elegant edge. The main draw is likely to be the eminently reliable 5R Spring Drive calibre – used for the first time outside of Grand Seiko – which brings with it the kind of impressive details that us nerds like to boast about: exceptional precision and shock and temperature resistance. LX takes its name from the Latin lux, meaning light, so it makes sense that Seiko has dispensed with steel in place of a coated titanium 44.8mm case. Design wise, Seiko has collaborated with Ken Okuyama to create a piece that straddles the contemporary and the vintage, meaning the one-time design director of Pininfarina can now add the LX to a CV that includes supervising the Enzo Ferrari and Maserati Quattroporte projects.

More details at seikowatches.com

Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC, £2,600

Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC

For those who know anything about Porsche Design watches, you might be surprised to see this name on a list of GMTs. After all, PD is known for its chronograph designs, thanks largely to its automotive association (Porsche, duh) – in particular the Monobloc Actuator series, with its distinctive case and integrated chrono pushers. But while the 1919 Globetimer caught us off-guard, too, it is a worthy left-field addition. For starters, it presents a GMT much in the same way it does its chronos: two pushers on the right-hand side of the case toggling plus or minus one hour. We’ll be honest and say we could take or leave the additional central date hand and chapter ring, but this is a minor quibble for a watch that is otherwise quite clean in its modern presentation of the GMT complication.

More details at porsche-design.com

Oris Aquis GMT Date, £1,950

Oris Aquis GMT Date

Oris has a fine knack for good looking watches at an appealing price point, so it should come as no surprise that its latest dual-time makes the cut. The Aquis collection is a diver’s companion if ever you saw one: a chunky 43.5mm case, wide legible bezel and crown-protecting ‘horns’ that hark back to when watches were actually tools. These days, you’re more likely to pull on a pair of jeans than a wetsuit with one of these, but the effect is just as effective outside the oceans. The new GMT model shows the dual-time complication on the handsome sunburst-blue dial via a yellow arrow pointing to an inner chapter ring, while the ceramic bezel can be used as a third timezone indicator for the most worldly of travellers. There’s plenty of watch here for just a shade under £2k.

More details at oris.ch

Sinn 6060 F.A.Z, €2,770 (No UK Price)

Sinn 6060 F.A.Z

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung might not be a regular newspaper of choice in the UK, but Germany’s answer to the Financial Times does carry the distinction of having collaborated with watchmaker Sinn. To celebrate the paper’s 70th anniversary, the paper reached out its fellow Frankfurt resident to create the Sinn 6060 F.A.Z – a charmingly minimalist GMT capable of showcasing three time zones at once. The first and second time zones are indicated by the hands on the dial, while the final zone is seen on the inner chapter ring (set by the crown on the top left of the case). An alcantara strap and a particularly handsome five-link bracelet come as standard. If it’s a little small, there’s also a slightly larger version, the 6090. One slight hitch: you’ll have to head to Germany to pick up one of these watches for yourself.

More details at sinn.de

Bamford London GMT, £1,100

BWD London GMT

George Bamford might have made a healthy living customising and modifying watches over the last 15 years, but in recent times the London-based outfit has focused on creating increasingly impressive Bamford-branded designs. The London GMT, for our money, is the best yet. It features a lesser-spotted internal rotating bezel reminiscent of dive watches of the late 1960s within a cushion case – retro stylings that are offset by splashes of contemporary colours. Operated by an independent crown, the bezel is designed to be immune to any underwater knocks that might land a diver in a spot of bother, though in modern application this just makes for a particularly clean design. That Bamford’s watches should have a keen eye for design shouldn’t be a surprise. As a passionate watch collector himself, he’s moulding Swiss watchmaking DNA into a value proposition. Case in point: the London GMT.

More details at bamfordwatchdepartment.com

Monta Atlas GMT, £1,205

Monta Atlas GMT

You might not be familiar with the St Louis-based Monta Watches, but this small independent brand is slowly building a strong fanbase for its great looking, excellent-value watches. Its latest release, the well-named Atlas, features a dual-time complication within a – praise the lord – 38.5mm case. Slim-wristed readers rejoice! What the Atlas lacks in surface area, though, it makes up for in elegant construction. For example, the case blends a series of different finishes (brushed, polished, blasted, chamfered edges) to complement the understated dial. We like the sword-shaped hour and minute hands, as well as the subtly-stepped GMT arrow. Most of all, we like the price: a shade more than £1,200 for a watch constructed in the States and fitted with a Swiss-made movement. That’ll do nicely.

More details at montawatch.com

About the author

Ben Winstanley

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