Welcome back to Buying Time, my weekly curation of pre-owned watches for sale, done in collaboration with Govberg Jewelers. This week, we are looking at GMT watches. What is a GMT watch? Well, as far as the watch world goes, it is not exactly a settled definition. Many folks (myself included) like to think of GMT watches as those that give you the ability to simultaneously read the time in two time zones. While I believe this is a good, practical definition, it is perhaps a bit simplistic. It may be more precise to say that a GMT watch is one which provides at least one time reading on a 24 hour scale (rather than, say, one that has two 12-hour time scales). Some GMT watches can be used to track a third time zone or even every time zone. Some have an hour hand independent of the 24 hour indication, some do not…so you see my point that GMT can mean different things to different people. Terms like “dual time” “UTC” and “24 hour indicator” are also terms you see that refer to the same functionality as “GMT”. In short, the term GMT can be used to encompass a variety of watches (see “Did You Know?” below for a bit more detail), including those I have found for you today. So let’s take a look.
First today is Rolex, which likely sells more GMT watches than any other brand in the world. And while the most notable of these is probably the good ‘ole Rolex “GMT Master”, right now I want to look at a pre-owned Rolex Explorer II (Ref 16570). The Explorer II 16570, a stainless steel watch, is my Rolex of choice if I were to ever own one. It is, in my view, a watch that you really can’t go wrong with. Timeless design, adventurous spirit, and of course the dependability and reliability of a Rolex caliber.
This particular 16570 is a “P-serial” which means it has drilled through lugs and solid end links (generally considered upgrades vs. earlier serial references); its self-winding automatic movement is the Rolex caliber 3185. Of course a watch like this is only available in the secondary market now, having been replaced in 2011 by the Rolex Explorer II ref 216570. Yes, the Explorer II, first released in 1971, was given a big refresh for its 40th anniversary in 2011, most notably an increase in size to 42mm and a prominent orange arrow GMT hand which mirrors the original Explorer II of 1971. I still prefer the 40mm 16570 you see here.
Rolex Explorer II (Ref 16570, P-serial)
Pre-owned Price: $4,750
40mm stainless steel case, automatic mechanical Rolex Caliber 3185
Moving on now to perhaps the most famous GMT watch model in the world, the Rolex GMT-Master II. This is a newer GMT Master II — the Rolex Ref 116179, with ceramic “Pepsi bezel”, introduced in 2014. Many Rolex fans waited a long time for a Cerachom (Rolex’s trademark for its ceramic) Pepsi bezel and the 116179 did not disappoint – as you can see it is a sharp looking watch. It has the automatic mechanical Rolex Caliber 3186 inside. There is only one ‘catch’ though, which is that this model is presently only offered in white gold. Which means this watch is a LOT more expensive than your run of the mill steel Rolex. Still, it’s a pretty killer looking watch, and it could be yours.
Pre-owned Price: $28,750
40mm white gold case, Cerachrom “Pepsi” bezel, automatic mechanical Rolex Caliber 3186
With this next watch, we are going to switch it up with a look at an interesting GMT piece from a well respected, up-and-coming independent watchmaking brand by the name of Linde Werdelin. I’ve written at length about Linde Werdelin over the years — just click here if you are new to the brand or want to review the archives. The neat thing about this watch is that 1) it was one of the brand’s earlier models and is now out-of-production, and 2) it is one of only 66 that were ever made. In other words, this is a very limited edition watch (with box and papers) that you simply do not see very often on the secondary market. The watch has a look all its own — from LWs’ unique case (which accepts specialized diving or mountaineering computers the brand also makes) and bracelet design (interchangeable with many of LWs aftermarket straps) to a bold color set. I also like how they integrated the 24 hour scale & hand on the inner section of the dial which is not only unique but easy-to-read. Decades from now, this could be an interesting watch to have in one’s collection. Or just enjoy it now.
Linde Werdelin Hard Black III GMT (HB111.GMT)
Pre-owned Price: $5,750
46mm DLC finished steel case, automatic mechanical Swiss caliber
Next we have a Breguet to look at. The Breguet Transatlantique Type XXI Flyback (3810ST929ZU) is really not a true GMT — though it has a 24-hour register at 3 o’clock that would read like a GMT, it does not function as a second time zone but rather a day/night indicator. There is also a running small seconds at 9 o’clock, and a 12 hour totalizer + a date aperture at 6 o’clock. The elapsed chrono minutes and seconds are via two center-set hands which read to the scale on the outer ring of the dial. The 42.5mm steel case is wonderfully executed, with beautiful bezel notching and coin-edge fluting on the side of the case. This watch would be even better if it had a see-through case back, but that is unfortunately not the case here. This is still a great watch, and it also happens to be one of the most affordable watches you can get from Breguet.
Breguet Transatlantique Type XXI Flyback (3810ST929ZU)
Pre-owned Price: $7,250
42.5mm stainless steel case, black ruthenium dial, automatic mechanical Breguet caliber 584Q, fitted on a crocodile strap with a stainless steel deployment buckle
The last piece this week probably fits more appropriately in the world time category, but with a 24 hour day/night ring and its gorgeous looks I thought I’d throw it in. A Patek 7130G, it has a 36mm white gold case with brown and ivory dial (with an engine-turned inner section) and a bezel set with 62 diamonds. The prong buckle is also set with 27 diamonds. Wow. Inside is an automatic mechanical Patek Caliber 240 HU, with micro-rotor, and it is marvelously visible through the caseback. On the Patek website it falls under the “Ladies Watches – Complications” section, though (a small) part of me wants to try it on for myself. An absolutely stunning Patek!
Patek Philippe World Time 7130G-010
This watch comes with box and papers and majority of time still remaining on the factory warranty. It is offered at $38,500. Check it out or buy it over at Govberg>>>
Did You Know?
GMT stands for ‘Greenwich Mean Time‘, a time standard that was established in 1884 at the International Meridian Conference, when it was decided to place the Prime Meridian at Greenwich, England. GMT was formerly used as the international civil time standard, now superseded in that function by Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). GMT and UTC are interchangeable terms, and though UTC is the modern term of art, ‘GMT’ is well embedded term in the watch industry whose use is unlikely to be surrendered to UTC anytime soon. GMT is an absolute time reference that does not change with the seasons; another way to think of it is as time ‘0’, with other timezones being plus (+) or minus (-) GMT.
As you can see, GMT watches tend to be most useful for those involved with aviation, cross-country or international travel. For example, if you are flying cross-country, a GMT watch can provide your local time (where you are now) and your home time (the time in the location where you departed from).
edits have been made to this post after publication