“These are the best microbrand GMT watches you can buy in 2021.”
Best Microbrand GMT Watches
- Lorier Hyperion GMT
- Christopher Ward C63 Sealander
- Baltic Aquascaphe GMT
- Unimatic X Hodinkee Modello Uno U1-HGMT
- Farer GMT Bezel Maze
- Ming 17.03 GMT
- Monta Skyquest
- Laventure Transatlantique GMT
Microbrands have become one of the fastest-growing aspects of the mechanical watch market, in some cases even surpassing the big players in the watch industry. Most of these brands use their online presence and their websites as their main source of distribution, allowing them to reduce third-party costs by interacting directly with the customer. I personally like this development in the watch industry. The increased level of competition in the watch business means that the big players have to get more creative and innovative to stay relevant. This in turn equals more great options and more value for us watch enthusiasts and customers.
But because of the relatively low barrier of entry, it seems that every day a new Microbrand is popping up, be it on your Instagram feed or crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. I’m sure it wasn’t long ago since you got the latest ad of some new brand, trying their best to stand out in this competitive market. Maybe you are not able to keep up on which brands are delivering on their promise and which are just blowing hot air in your direction. And this is totally understandable. So, for that reason, I wanted to give you some guidance and have therefore created this series in which I will feature my favorite microbrand watches each week. I choose each model and brand based on their value for money and the innovation they bring into the watch industry. And, today, we are looking at 9 of the best microbrand GMT watches.
The GMT Complications (“GMT” stands for Greenwich Mean Time) is regarded as one of the most useful complications out there and is frequently used by world travelers, business travelers, and people like me, who work closely together with people from all over the world and needs to know what time it is in those respective countries. 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.
But enough with the lesson, let’s dive straight into today’s episode, in which you can expect eight of my favorite microbrand GMT watches.
Lorier Hyperion GMT ($799)
First up is the US-based brand Lorier and their Hyperion GMT. I set my eyes on the Hyperion, the minute it was released, but unfortunately couldn’t get my hands on one, due to it being sold out almost immediately. And I think that speaks volumes to the quality and design of a watch.
Anyway, the Lorier Hyperion features a marine-grade stainless steel case, which measures 39mm in diameter, 10.7mm in height, and 47mm from lug to lug. Taking in some of the allures of the glorious jet-setting days and the cool GMT watches that came with it, the Lorier Hyperion utilizes the typical Pepsi colors for the bezel. Overall, with its case shape, the dial with the chapter ring circling the minute track, the gilt and silver print, and the roulette date wheel, the watch feels like it came straight out of a time machine. And I think that the vintage charm and looks are a big part of the overall appeal that this watch undoubtedly has.
The watch is powered by an automatic Soprod C125 movement, which has an independent GMT hand and provides 42 hours of power reserve. Besides that, the Lorier Hyperion also has 100 meters of water resistance, a screw-down crown, and a domed hesalite crystal, which tops off the whole package.
All in all, if you are willing to spend $799, you can get your hands on an affordable, well-designed GMT watch, that also has a mechanical movement. Quite the value proposition, isn’t it?
Specifications: Price: $799, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 10.7mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Soprod C125 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Hesalite
Christopher Ward C63 Sealander ($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)
First up is the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT. A watch that was featured by many watch blogs, magazines, and YouTubers, and gained a lot of respect within the watch community. 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.
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. In combination with the black rubber strap that it is presented on, this modest case proportions make for an excellent feeling when wearing this watch on your wrist. Complementing the brushed case is a highly legible black dial, which features diver-typical luminous hour markers, index-shaped hands, as well as a vibrant blue independent 24-hour GMT hand, which tells you the time at your preferred destination. It does that with the help of the 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.
To sum it up, for a price of $1,105 you will get a vintage-inspired GMT watch, that looks great, has great finishing, and on top of it all is produced by one of the greatest microbrand out there.
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
Unimatic X Hodinkee Modello Uno U1-HGMT ($1,395)
Coming up next is a watch that shares a combination of Italian and American influences. No, Olive Garden didn’t release a watch, no worries. I’m talking about the Unimatic X Hodinkee Modello Uno U1-HGMT. This watch is a result of a collaboration between Unimatic, a microbrand well known for creating good-looking, minimalistic timepieces, and the famous watch magazine Hodinkee. Prior to this official collab, Hodinkee already sold some of Unimatic’s watches in their shop, which ultimately, led to this team’s effort in creating this timepiece. And I think it’s fair to say, that this effort paid out. Not only resulted it in a very cool-looking watch, but it also paid of monetarily. Originally priced at $1,395, the Modello Uno U1-HGMT sold out within minutes and is now resold on Chrono24 for twice that amount.
The Unimatic X Hodinkee Modello Uno U1-HGMT features a brushed stainless-steel case, which measures 41.5mm in diameter, 11.25mm in thickness, and 49mm from lug to lug. Compared to the original Unimatic U1, which this special edition is based on, Unimatic and Hodinkee managed to reduce the case thickness by 11%, which makes it a lot more comfortable to wear than its predecessor. Complementing the durable case is the Unimatic-typical, clean, understated, and highly legible diver dial, which features luminous painted hour markers, Unimatic-typical hands, a date window at 6 o’clock, as well as a 24-hour, independent GMT hand. This GMT hand marks the debut of the first GMT watch in Unimatic’s lineup of predominately dive and field watches. But the GMT hand alone won’t do you any good in reading a second-time zone, will it? So, in order to counter that, the watch has a unidirectional 24-hour GMT bezel, which is kept in grey and features a black and white 24-hour scale on it.
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.
Initially sold for $1,395, this limited edition can now be bought for around $2.000 to $2,500 on grey market platforms like Chrono24. And while I’m not sure if I would pay $3,000 for this watch, it’s certainly worth the listing price and even more. So, to sum it up, if you can find one for around $2,000, which is possible, I checked, and you are looking for a minimalistic GMT watch from a very cool and hip microbrand, this watch will be the perfect choice for you.
Specifications: Price: $1,395, Case Size: 41.5mm, Thickness: 11.25mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW330-2 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Farer GMT Bezel Maze ($1,475)
For the seasoned reader of my blog, the brand name Farer will probably ring some bells. And this isn’t a coincidence, I featured the brand in several articles I’ve wrote over the past few months and come back to them almost every time when I’m doing something with microbrands. And this is for good reason. Founded back in 2015, Farer quickly gained the respect of the watch community are on their way to the top. 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 GMT Bezel Maze. This watch features a marine-grade stainless steel case, which measures 40.5mm in diameter, 11.75mm in thickness, and 44mm from lug to lug. As with other Farer models, like the Carnegie Chronograph or the Endeavour Titanium, the lugs of the Maze are very short, which results in the watch wearing smaller than on paper, despite it having a 40.5mm case diameter. On top of the case sits a two-tone black and grey aluminum bezel, which features a an engraved 24-hour GMT scale. The matte-colored bezel hugs the white, swimming pool textured dial, which features luminous steel hour markers, black hour and minute hands, an independent, vibrant red 24-hour GMT hand, as well as a date window on 6 o’clock.
The Farer GMT Bezel Maze is powered by an automatic, Swiss-made Sellita SW330-1 top-grade movement, which provides around 42 hours of power reserve.
If you are looking for a GMT watch, that has a very creative design, great finishing quality, solid movement, and a price tag that is under $1,500, this watch will be a great choice for you.
Specifications: Price: $1,475, Case Size: 40.5mm, Thickness: 11.75mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Swiss-made Sellita SW330-1 top grade movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Ming 17.03 GMT ($1,800)
The next watch on this list is the Ming 17.03 GMT. And let me tell you this much, this isn’t your ordinary timepiece or even your ordinary GMT watch. This is a Ming watch. For those of you that know Ming, you will probably know where I’m going with that, and for those of you that don’t, let me tell you a little bit more about the brand. Founded back in 2017, Ming is a horological collective formed and funded by a group of six watch enthusiasts from around the world. The group is headed up by Oxford-educated physicist, Ming Thein, who left his corporate jobs behind and decided to pursue what he really cares about, photography and watches. And this is what ultimately led him to build his own watch company, Ming. Ming specializes in bringing together extravagant and innovative design, and traditional watchmaking.
And this philosophy can be observed quite easily when looking at any of their watches, like the Ming 19.02 Worldtimer, which I featured in another article about Microbrands, or the Ming 17.03 GMT, which is the watch that I will present to you today. The Ming 17.03 GMT features a brushed, grade 2 titanium case, which measures 38mm in diameter, 9.8mm in thickness, and 43.9mm from lug to lug. Similar to other watches from Ming, the Ming 27.02 has near-perfect measurements, which considering it’s a GMT watch, after all, is very impressive. But as nice as the case may be, the real star of every Ming watch out there, is its dial. The Ming 17.03 features a multi-layered, black gradient sapphire dial with an inner 24-hour GMT ring, a white luminous dial ring that features a combination of Arabic numerals and indexes, and the Ming-typical hands.
With that masterpiece of a dial, it’s easy to forget that there is even more to this watch. The movement. The Ming 17.03 GMT is powered by the automatic Sellita SW330-1 top-grade movement, which was tested for 250 hours and provides 42 hours of power reserve.
To sum it up, the Ming 17.03 GMT is an absolute stunner of a watch. The price of $1,800, which you will have to pay to get one, is actually quite reasonable, considering the quality and innovation that go into Ming’s watches.
Specifications: Price: $1,800, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 9.8mm, Lug-to-Lug: 43.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW330-1 top-grade movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Monta Skyquest ($2,190)
With the Monta Skyquest, we are already at our second last pick of the day. 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 Skyquest, a microbrand watch with a GMT complication.
The Monta Skyquest features a stainless-steel case, which measures 40mm in diameter, 11.9mm in thickness, and 49mm from lug to lug. Complementing the brushed case is the black lacquered dial, which features applied hour indexes, a multidimensional 24-hour GMT rehaut (a rehaut is the inner bezel ring of a watch that surrounds the dial), an independent GMT hand with a vibrant red tip, as well as a date window just above the 6 o’clock position. Hugging the dial is a black ceramic bezel, which features a luminous 24-hour GMT scale on it.
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. It provides around 42 hours of power reserve.
To sum it up, if you are looking for a great-looking GMT watch, that is nicely sized, features a reliable mechanical movement, looks great, and you have $2,190 to spend, this watch will be perfect for you.
Specifications: Price: $2,190, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 304m, Movement: Self-winding MONTA Caliber M-23 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Laventure Transatlantique GMT ($3,750)
And now we already arrived at the last GMT watch on this list. The Laventure Transatlantique GMT. I first encountered Laventure and their watches on Kickstarter, where they collected funds for their first lineup of watches, the Marine collection. I was immediately impressed by the care and thought that went into designing those watches, so naturally, I put some more research into Laventure and came to the conclusion that this brand has the potential to be one of the big ones in the next years to come. And I would be right, 4 years after the Geneva-based brand was founded, Laventure is still going strong and just completely sold out their latest collection, the Marine II. The man behind the brand is named Clement Gaud, a passionate watch designer that worked for the biggest names in Swiss watchmaking. And for those of you that like to speculate, if you look at the case design and shape of Laventure’s watches, you could imagine from which watch brand Clement Claud was inspired by. But his former employment history hasn’t much to do with why you are here, right? You want to learn more about Laventure’s cool GMT watch, the Laventure Transatlantique GMT.
The Laventure Transatlantique GMT features a brushed stainless-steel case, which measures 40.5mm in diameter, 10.3mm in thickness, and 48.8mm from lug to lug. As mentioned earlier, with its rectangular case shape and the case proportions, this watch reminds me of a certain Patek Philippe Nautilus, don’t know if you know the watch, but from what I heard, this is quite the famous watch. Jokes aside, I’m not suggesting that this Laventure GMT is a homage or even a replica of the Patek Philippe Nautilus. It’s too different for that. All I’m saying is that the case has quite some similarities when it comes to shape and proportions. But even if you disagree with me on that point, I think we all can agree that the case is very nicely done and that you can see the thought and care that went into designing this watch. Speaking of design, the creamy-white, sandwich dial, features rounded off-hour indexes, rounded index hands, a green independent 24-hour GMT hand, as well as a date window on the 3 o’clock position. Adding to the greenish look and the “Explorer” themed design, is the two-tone, 24-click bidirectional rotating bezel which features a 24-hour graduated PLEXIGLAS® insert.
At the heart of the Laventure Transatlantique GMT lies the automatic, Swiss-made ETA 2893-2 Elaboré, which beats at 28,800 BPH and provides approximately 42 hours of power reserve.
Priced at $3,750, this watch certainly isn’t cheap. Especially considering it’s coming from a 4.5-year-old microbrand. But, considering the finishing quality, the design, and the quality of the movement, I’m confident to tell you that the Laventure GMT is worth your money.
Specifications: Price: $3,750, Case Size: 40.5mm, Thickness: 10.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.8mm, Lug Width: 18mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Modified automatic ETA 2893-2 movement, Power Reserve: 42 Hours, Crystal: Plexiglas
And that’s it for today. Those are the best microbrand GMT watches you can buy in 2021. If you think otherwise, please let me know in the comments below, and tell me about your favorite microbrand GMT watch.