“As I demonstrated with this list, there are a lot of good GMT watches out there, that can be bought for $2,000 or even less, in the year 2021.”
Best GMT Watches Under $2,000
- Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT
- Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT
- Baltic Aquascaphe GMT
- Mido Ocean Star GMT
- Farer Oxley Silver LE
- Zodiac Aerospace GMT
- Sinn 105 St Sa UTC
- Laco Frankfurt GMT
- Monta Atlas GMT
In celebration of the world slowly opening up again, I decided that it is time to feature some cool watches with a GMT complication, in order for you to have some valuable options when your next trip is coming up.
But before we define what a GMT watch actually is and does, let’s take a closer look at the “GMT” in the name, and what exactly that means. Because honestly, I didn’t know for a long time myself. Therefore, I want to pass on this knowledge to you and give you some more of that cool watch knowledge.
“GMT” stands for Greenwich Mean Time and is actually an outdated way of defining time, compared to the modern UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), even though the two are often the same. GMT is the “zero hour” of a system, that allows one to know the time anywhere in the world by adding or subtracting time from it. Move east from Great Britain and each new time zone adds + 1 to GMT. Move west and you take away -1 from GMT. The idea of a GMT watch is to offer two things: a hand that is always synched to GMT time, so that the time all over the world can be identified, and normal hands for local time. So, in short, the Greenwich Mean Time, GMT for short, was created to establish uniform time zones worldwide and therefore making it easier to determine the current time anywhere on the surface of this planet.
What Is A GMT Watch?
A watch with a GMT complication is a timepiece with an independent 24-hour hand that indicates a second-time zone, in addition to telling the local time at your current location. Usually, this complication is used by people that want to be able to tell the time in two different countries at the same time. A perfect example of that are frequent business travelers, that want to know in a blink of an eye, what time it is in the country of origin as well as what the time at their final destination is. Another good example, which I frequently experience, is if you work or do business with people from all around the world. For example, I work closely with people from Mumbai and London, so I need to know what time it is there, and a GMT watch complication comes in very handy in such a situation. Because believe me, you don’t want to disturb your coworkers in the middle of the night, just because you forgot that this person is sleeping peacefully, while you are sipping on your 9 am coffee.
So, whether you enjoy wearing a GMT watch for actual work or just want to know what time it is in the Fiji Islands to accompany your daydreaming, I got you. I’ve rounded up ten of my favorite GMT watches on this list, of the best GMT watches that can be bought for $2,000 or less. That being said, there are a few exceptions in this list, due to GMT watches generally being more complicated to make, therefore having a bigger price tag. But I kept the budget pretty tight and only allowed for minor exceedances. And as always, I’m trying to include some not-so-well-known brands as well, so that even the most knowledgeable enthusiast will still get to see something new. But enough with all the talking, let’s get started!
Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT ($1,049)
The first watch on this list will seem familiar to most of my seasoned readers since I’m admittedly a big fan of the brand and find that they offer tremendous value for my money. You’ve guessed it, I’m talking about the French watch manufacturer Yema, which was founded back in 1948 by Henry Louis Belmont. And the watch that made it onto this list is the Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT. Made to serve as an ultra-rugged, highly reliable wristwatch, the Marine Nationale GMT is a watch specifically designed by French navy personnel, in order to create a watch that will endure the harshest of harsh conditions out on the high sea.
The Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT features a stainless-steel case, which measures 39mm in diameter, 12.85mm in thickness, and 47mm from lug to lug. Its carefully brushed case hugs the rich, navy-blue dial, which features white exclamation mark-shaped hour markers, a distinct signature of the 1970’s vintage Navygraf model, luminous index-styled hands, a golden Navygraf inscribing, as well as the iconic Marine Nationale logo on 6 o’clock. The same colored, navy-blue bezel, which is made from scratch-resistant sapphire glass and features a matte white plating to mirror the glossy rendering of the vintage bakelite resin bezel. Topping off the whole thing is a sapphire crystal, enabling the watch to be water-resistant up to 300 meters (990ft).
To sum it up, if you are looking for a striking GMT watch, that is durable enough to serve the French navy, and will only cost you $1,049, then the Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale GMT is a perfect fit for you.
Specifications: Price: $1,049, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 12.85mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic in-house YEMA3000 GMT movement, Power Reserve: 45 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT ($1,070)
Coming up next is the Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT. Known for being the world’s first online-only watch brand, Christopher Ward was founded by three friends, Mike France, Peter Ellis, and Chris Ward back in 2005. The idea of making their own watches, came to them, while they were enjoying a gentle boat trip down the river Thames. And as they all were fascinated by horology and everything that surrounds it, the decision was made that they want to start a watch business. And after more than a year, on June 2nd, 2005, they launched their brand out of a converted chicken shed on a farm in Berkshire, England. And ever since then, they rode on a wave of success, now even creating their very own movements and continuing to provide awesome watches for rather affordable prices.
And the Christopher Ward C63 Sealander is an excellent example of their philosophy. Designed to be used in a wide range of activities like travel, exploration, and adventure, the C63 Sealander GMT is beloved by a wide array of people, ranging from rock climbers to channel swimmers, to business travelers. Made from marine-grade 316L stainless steel, the 39mm case makes wearing this watch a real pleasure with almost every wrist size. As mentioned in previous articles, I personally find that the 39mm to 41mm range, is the perfect case size for every sports-oriented watch. But that’s just my opinion. The brushed and polished surfaces of the watch are complemented by the 24-hour outer bezel, which is made entirely from stainless steel and blends in quite perfectly with the white, clean dial, as well as with the stainless steel bracelet, that the watch is presented on.
The watch is powered by the automatic Sellita SW300-2 GMT movement, which allows you to set the 24-hour GMT hand independently from the other hands, making it a true GMT watch. The 50-hour power reserve will suffice if you decide to leave your watch at home over the weekend and want it to continue sweeping as smoothly as the moment you left it.
Considering the $1,070 price tag, the watch has a lot to offer and a great value proposition, making it ideal for you to pick up before your next international trip.
Specifications: Price: $1,070, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.85mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45.8mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW300-2 GMT movement, Power Reserve: 56 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Baltic Aquascaphe GMT ($1,105)
Next up is the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT. Featured by many watch blogs, magazines, and YouTubers, this watch definitely deserves its spot on this list. Inspired by the vintage dive- and GMT watches that were used in the ’60s and ’70s, the Aquascaphe GMT is designed to equip modern divers and jet setters around the world. With its sapphire bezel insert and clean dial, the watch features a unique combination of vintage and contemporary aesthetics. Baltic as a brand was founded back in 2017 and therefore is relatively new in the industry. But that doesn’t mean that they produce watches of lesser quality. The opposite is the case actually. And the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT is the perfect example of that.
The Baltic Aquascaphe GMT features a 316L stainless steel case that measures 39mm in diameter, 12mm in thickness, and 47mm from lug to lug. Personally, I love that they went with more modest case proportions and that they honored the vintage design spirit not only when it came to the dial and the bezel, but also proportions-wise. The simplistic case is complemented by a highly legible black dial with a glossy finish and a two-tone, 24 click bi-directional rotating bezel, which is made from sapphire glass. For its movement, Baltic has chosen the automatic Swiss-made Soprod C125 GMT caliber. This self-winding movement has a power reserve of 42 hours, a date- and a GMT functionality.
As you can see, for a price of $1,105, you will get a lot of bang for your buck.
Specifications: Price: $1,105, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Swiss made Soprod C125 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Mido Ocean Star GMT ($1,190)
For the next GMT watch on this list, we are moving from France to Switzerland. Namely to a small Swiss town with the sounding name Le Locle, where today’s watch, the Mido Ocean Star GMT, is produced. But before we go deeper into the specs and details of this particular watch, let’s first take a look at the brand behind it, shall we? Founded back in 1918, the Swiss watch manufacturer Mido produces high-quality, swiss-made timepieces, that can be bought at very reasonable prices. And their Ocean Star GMT, which made it onto this list, is no exception to that. Designed to be worn by modern jet setters and globetrotters, this watch offers a lot of bang for your buck.
The Mido Ocean Star GMT features a brushed stainless-steel case, which measures 44mm in diameter, 13.3mm in thickness, and 50mm from lug to lug. Now, I know what you may be thinking, but Nicolas, don’t you prefer smaller watches as opposed to that hefty, 44mm case? Well, you would be right in assuming so, but considering that the market for good, mechanical GMT watches under $2,000, is very small, I decided to include this timepiece. That being said, if you are a business traveler, that wants to wear this watch with a suit, it probably won’t be as nice as you imagined it to be. But then again, this watch belongs to Mido’s Ocean Star line, which essentially is their dive watch collection. So naturally, you wouldn’t expect a 38mm, ultra-slim watch from that, would you? Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is, yes, this watch is big, but if you enjoy it and are comfortable wearing it, then there is not issue at all. And as conflicted as I am with the case sizing, let me tell you that the dial and the bezel of this watch are just awesome. Kept in a very dark, navy blue, the dial features an outer 24-hour scale, a vibrant blue independent 24-hour hand, applied indexes, as well as minimal branding. Hugging that dial is the dark blue colored ceramic bezel, which features diving-relevant markers on it.
The Ocean Star GMT is powered by the automatic Mido Caliber 80 movement, which is based on the ETA C07.661 and provides around 80 hours of power reserve.
To sum it up, if you are looking for a handsome GMT watch that is equally useful 10,000 meters above ground, as it is 200 meters below the surface, and you are not deterred by a 44mm case, this watch will be a very good choice for you.
Specifications: Price: $1,190, Case Size: 44mm, Thickness: 13.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Mido Caliber 80 movement, Power Reserve: 80 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Farer Oxley Silver LE ($1,455)
For the seasoned reader of my blog, the brand name Farer will probably ring some bells, and you will be reminded of the countless other articles that featured a variety of different Farer watches. And even if you never got a chance to read a single article on this website, chances are that the name Farer will already be familiar to you. Founded back in 2015, Farer is an independent British watch company, driven by a horological passion for detail, design, and most importantly, difference. Their belief in the concept of mechanical watchmaking led them to where they are today and to the care and love that goes into every timepiece that they design and, in partnership with their Swiss manufacturer Roventa Henex, produce.
And this narrative can be seen quite clearly in the Farer Oxley Silver LE, which features a stainless-steel case, that measures 39.5mm in diameter, 10mm in thickness, and 45mm from lug to lug. The combination of the modest case diameter and the compact lug to lug distance makes for a very comfortable feeling when wearing this watch on your wrist. Complementing that brushed case is a super-fine textured, silver sunray central dial, which features a 24-hour scale, blue painted Arabic numerals, and indexes, Pencil-shaped hands, an independent 24-hour GMT hand, as well as a circular date window that was perfectly embedded into the dial at the 3 o’clock position.
Powered by the Swiss Made automatic Sellita SW330-1 ‘Premium’ movement, the Farer Oxley Silver LE not only offers a great design, but also a great mechanical movement, which provides 42 hours of power reserve and will serve you very well.
Specifications: Price: $1,455, Case Size: 39.5mm, Thickness: 10mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Swiss-made Sellita SW330-1 ‘Premium’ movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Zodiac Aerospace GMT ($1,695)
Moving on to the Zodiac Aerospace GMT, a watch that has its roots in the year 1882, when Ariste Calame set up a little workshop in a beautiful Swiss town named Le Locle. Ariste was obsessed with creating the most precise watch of all time, which led him to develop the first-ever Zodiac watch – a pocket watch with a unique character. But soon, pocket watches weren’t enough for the ambitious young brand, and they went into producing Swiss-made wristwatches, which ultimately, led to the year 1953 when Zodiac launched their Super Sea Wolf model, a dive watch that was targeted at the broader mass market. And since the watch was such a big success at the time, Zodiac decided to create a new watch, that used the same Sea Wolf case and looks, as they knew that their customer base would love it. This predecessor of their original dive watch was launched in 1960 and given the cool name: Aerospace GMT. Based on the successful dive watch of the early 50s, this watch now was able to tell two different timezones all at once. Unfortunately, this wave of success came to an abrupt end, as the quartz crisis hit in the late 1970s. But luckily, this wasn’t the end for Zodiac and their watches. In 2012, 42 years after its closure, the brand Zodiac was revived by Fossil, who bought the brand name and decided to continue producing their most iconic models. And luckily, the Aerospace GMT was one of them.
The Zodiac Aerospace GMT features a polished stainless-steel case, which measures 40mm in diameter, 14mm in thickness, and 47.5mm from lug to lug. Complementing the nicely proportioned case is the understated black diver dial, the two-tone, baby blue, and orange 24-hour bezel, as well as the three-link stainless steel bracelet. Inside of the case beats the automatic ETA 2893-2 movement, which provides 38-hours of power reserve. Unlike the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf model, the Aerospace GMT, unfortunately, doesn’t use one of Fossil’s in-house STP movements, which probably is due to Fossil wanting to keep the costs of the watch as low as possible. Because if they had to develop a completely new STP-GMT movement, the current $1,695 price tag would have been considerably higher. And we wouldn’t want that, right?
Specifications: Price: $1,695, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 14mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.5mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic ETA 2893-2 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Sinn 105 St Sa UTC ($1,890)
German watch enthusiasts, listen up. Here comes a GMT watch from your homeland. The Sinn 105 St Sa UTC W (W for white). Not sure why they had to make my life more difficult by giving this watch this long and complicated name though. But I’m not here to talk about the name-giving of Sinn or any other watchmaker, I’m here to talk about their handsome GMT watch.
The Sinn 105 St Sa UTC W features a carefully polished stainless-steel case, which measures 41mm in diameter, 11.9mm in thickness, and 47.4mm from lug to lug. The 41mm case size in combination with the 47.4mm lug to lug distance and the 73 grams of weight, offers a good combination of having a certain heft and weight on your wrist while not being overwhelmed with the size and chunkiness of a larger watch. Nicely done Sinn!
But as nice as the case and its proportions may be, the real star of the show is the dial and bezel of the watch. The matte white dial has a very clean and uncluttered dial composition, featuring only painted hour and minute markers, luminous hour, minute, and seconds hands, an independent 24-hour hand that is colored in very vibrant and vivid orange color, as well as a date window on 6 o’clock. The orange GMT hand as well as the small, orange UTC lettering, just below the center of the dial, are the only two sources of desperately needed color in the whole watch. Hugging that simplistic dial is a black 24-hour rotating bezel, which is extra durable thanks to its black hard coating, that was created with the TEGIMENT technology. For those of you that are like me a few hours ago, and don’t know what on earth the TEGIMENT technology is, let me give you a short summary. The TEGIMENT technology raises the hardness level of the base material, e.g. stainless steel or other hard materials, by a significant factor, making it extra durable to any type of scratches or bumps that you may encounter in your day-to-day life.
The watch is powered by an automatic Sellita SW330-2 movement, which beats at 28,800 BPH and provides around 42 hours of power reserve.
Priced at $1,890, the Sinn 105 St Sa UTC W offers a great design, a reliable movement, and the Sinn-typical build quality that includes ultra-scratch-resistant surfaces, as well as an overall high-quality look and feel.
Specifications: Price: $1,890, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.4mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW330-2 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Laco Frankfurt GMT ($1,990)
Zurich today, London tomorrow, New York the day after – businesspersons, globetrotters and pilots have long been travelling back and forth between different time zones. And the next watch on this list, the Laco Frankfurt GMT, caters to all of them. The German-based watch company Laco was founded in 1925, by Frieda Lacher and Ludwig Hummel, a German couple that decided to produce their very own timepieces. Originally named Lacher & Co, the watch manufacturer Laco, specialized in producing Pilots watches, and during World War II, were one of five manufacturers, that produced reliable watches for the pilots of the German Luftwaffe (German air force). And while I wouldn’t consider equipping the Nazis with watches a particularly noble thing to do, in the end, they were doing their job and a very good one at that.
And the Laco Frankfurt GMT really embodies that 40s and 50s spirit of pilot’s watches. The watch features a dark sandblasted stainless-steel case, which measures 43mm in diameter, 12.5mm in thickness, and 50mm from lug to lug. Weighing 100 grams, this watch will certainly demand its presence on your wrist, but if you are used to pilots’ watches, this isn’t something that should come as a surprise. It’s when we come to the dial and bezel design, where things get a little bit more surprising. What do I mean by that? Do you see those two crowns at the side of the case and the internal 24-hour bezel? Well, the ability to adjust an internal bezel on a GMT/Pilot’s watch with a second crown, is practically unheard of in the history of wristwatches. Usually, we only get to see twin-crowned cases with internal bezels when it comes to diving watches. But as strange as it is, I salute Laco for doing something different and exciting to stand out from the crowd.
At the heart of the Laco Frankfurt GMT beats the automatic Laco 330 movement, which is based on the reliable Sellita SW330-2 caliber and offers an accuracy of 0 to +14 seconds per day.
If you are a fan of big Pilots watches and are planning to spend just shy of $2,000, the Laco Frankfurt GMT will make for the perfect GMT watch in your collection.
Specifications: Price: $1,990, Case Size: 43mm, Thickness: 12.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Laco 330 movement, Power Reserve: n/a, Crystal: Sapphire
Monta Atlas GMT ($1,950)
And last one but not least, the Monta Atlas GMT. Monta is a fairly new microbrand, that came into the picture back in 2016 when they launched their first Oceanking model. Over the past 5 years, the US-based watch company managed to gain respect from a lot of watch enthusiasts and journalists worldwide and released quite a diverse lineup of different watches and complications. And one of them is the Monta Atlas GMT.
The Monta Atlas GMT features a brushed stainless-steel case, which measures 38.5mm in diameter, 10.2mm in thickness, and 47mm from lug to lug. As the seasoned reader of this blog may know, I personally really dig smaller watches, and the 38.5mm case diameter of the Monta Atlas GMT plays right into that. The blue dial of the Atlas GMT is a unique shade of color and made exclusively for Monta and their watches. And let me say this much, the color of the dial is absolutely gorgeous, and I now understand why they made it exclusively and only available for them. The handsome dial features a multidimensional rehaut (a rehaut is the inner bezel ring of a watch that surrounds the dial) that contains engraved 24-hour markers, a red-tipped 24-hour GMT hand, as well as a rather big date window that sits just above the 6 o’clock position.
Inside of the case beats the self-winding MONTA Caliber M-23 movement, which is based on the ETA 2893-2/Sellita SW330-1, and was manufactured, assembled, and tested in Switzerland. And it provides around 42 hours of power reserve.
To sum it up, if you are looking for a great-looking GMT watch, that is more conservative in size, features a reliable mechanical movement, and won’t cost you more than $1,950, this watch will be perfect for you.
Specifications: Price: $1,950, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 10.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Self-winding MONTA Caliber M-23 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
As I demonstrated with this list, there are a lot of GMT watches out there, that can be bought for $2,000 or even less, in the year 2021. So, for those of you that want to have a more affordable companion for one of your next travel journeys, hopefully, you now have some inspiration and ideas, in which direction your future research will go. Oh, and by the way, if you are interested in GMT watches under $1,000, I made a complete list of the best GMT watches under $1,000. Would appreciate it if you could go and check it out.