Best Travel Watches For Jetsetters

“Best Travel Watches 2021: Nomos Glashütte Zürich, Ming Worldtimer 19.02, Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer, Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One, Rolex GMT Master II, Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph 5990/1A, Patek Philippe World Time 5230R”

Best Travel Watches 2021

  1. Nomos Glashütte Zürich
  2. Ming Worldtimer 19.02
  3. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer
  4. Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One
  5. Rolex GMT Master II
  6. Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph 5990/1A
  7. Patek Philippe World Time 5230R

In honor of the world slowly starting to open up again, here are some cool mechanical watches that you can buy in 2021, which have some sort of useful travel complication. What do I mean by useful travel complication? Basically, I consider a watch to be useful for traveling if the watch has either a GMT or a worldtimer complication. Last time, we only covered GMT watches, but this time, I wanted to add the exciting category of worldtimers to this list. And hopefully, you will get inspired by the traveler-friendly watches I’ve chosen, and maybe even consider one of them to be your next pick for future trips around the world. But before we get into the watches, here is a little overview of what you should expect from your GMT- and worldtimer watch.

What Is A GMT Watch?

To make it simple and quick, 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 both their country of origin and the time in their final destination. 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.

What Does GMT Stand For?

“GMT” stands for Greenwich Mean Time and is actually an outdated way of defining time, compared to the modern UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). 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. 

What Is A Worldtimer Watch?

While GMT watches are usually thought to be more straightforward and particularly useful, the same can’t really be said about world timers. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the worldtimer, and all it stands for. In fact, it’s my favorite complication, I love to stare at the different city names on the dial and imagine I would be there right now. But you can’t argue that for most people, a GMT watch just comes in handier, as it’s rarely the case that you have to track 24 time zones, all at once.

But let’s just imagine you are someone that is in need of one, or, like me, just enjoy the mechanical finesse, that such a watch brings with it. What actually is a worldtimer watch? And what defines it? Well, that’s a rather simple answer. A worldtimer watch enables you to tell the current time in any of the world’s 24 timezones. And to display those different timezones, a worldtimer watch usually features an internal bezel, which is displaying 24 different world cities, each one of them representing a different time zone. Just next to it is a 24-hour ring or hand, which tells you the exact time in every city that is mentioned on the bezel. For example, when it is 2 pm in London, the 24-hour ring or hand, will align to show you the number “14” just below or above the city name “London”.

And that’s basically it, now you are good to go, and ready to understand the thought behind the watches that are coming up next. Let’s start, shall we?

Nomos Glashütte Zürich ($6,100)

Image credits: Nomos Glashütte

Next up is the Nomos Zürich, a watch that, thanks to its name, comes very close to my heart. For those of you that don’t really know what’s going on, the name of the watch, Zurich, refers to a beautiful city in Switzerland, which also happens to be the place where I grew up and now, live nearby. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in one of Zurich’s countless cafés, sipping on a good fresh cup of espresso, and looking out on the deep blue lake. And this is exactly the feeling that Nomos wants to give you with their Zürich Worldtimer. The Zürich is part of Nomos’ famously known lineup of watches, which due to their minimalistic designs and mechanical movements, are highly respected within the watch community. Basically, if you want a rather affordable, and minimalistic designed watch, and care about mechanical movements, Nomos got you.

And the Nomos Zürich fits in perfectly with that narrative. The watch features a stainless-steel case, which measures 39.9mm in diameter, 10.9mm, and 48mm from lug to lug. I have to say, that I find the size of it quite pleasing, it’s not too large but also large enough for you to have a comfortable overview of the dial. Speaking of which, the watch has a beautiful midnight blue dial, which features a worldtime indicator, a 24-hour ring, as well as a small seconds sub-dial just above the 6 o’clock position. The whole package is then topped off by a sapphire crystal, which protects your watch against scratches and bumps.

At the heart of the watch lies the automatic, in-house DUW 5201 movement, which provides around 42 hours of power reserve, and is equipped with the new NOMOS Swing System, which basically, is a proprietary escapement that Nomos developed together with the Technical University of Dresden.

So, to sum it up, for a price of $6,100, you will get a very sophisticated worldtimer that was designed according to Nomos’ design formula, which, we all know, is a winner.

Specifications: Price: $6,100, Case Size: 39.9mm, Thickness: 10.9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Automatic in-house DUW 5201 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Ming Worldtimer 19.02 ($11,800)

Image credits: Ming Watches

Moving on to the next contender on this list. And let me say this much, this isn’t your ordinary timepiece nor your ordinary travel watch. This is the Ming 19.02 Worldtimer. For those of you that now are asking themselves; Who in the world is Ming? Well, let me enlighten you. Ming was founded back in 2017 and 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. The latter led him to build up the watch company Ming, as we know it today. Through their exquisite watches, Ming wants to bring back a sense of excitement and adventure to the industry. And since Ming is fairly new in the market and is considered to be a Microbrand, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that they are not producing their watches in-house. They rather choose to work with dedicated partners like the Swiss manufacturer Schwarz-Etienne or Jean Rousseau, a French brand that specializes in producing luxury leather goods, like watch straps. All of their watches are assembled, regulated, and tested in Switzerland, with the final quality control being done personally in Malaysia.

Made from grade 5 titanium, the case of the 19.02 features a mixture of mirror-polished and finely brushed surfaces, as well as the Ming-typical lugs, which give the watch a sense of depth and visual contrast. Measuring 39mm in diameter and 11.2mm in thickness, the 19.02 isn’t your typical world timer, which, usually, is larger in size, due to the mechanical complexity of the movement. But luckily for us enthusiasts with slimmer wrists, Ming has our backs. And while the case itself is very exciting, just wait until you see the dial. The dial is made of sapphire, which was treated with a unique lacquer process, in order to achieve a deep black color in the center, and fully transparent edges, to allow some of the movement’s rose gold baseplate to be seen.

But the case and the dial are not the only things that are worth mentioning about the 19.02. But for that, we first have to turn the watch on its back, which, through its open caseback, reveals the absolutely stunning caliber ASE220.1. This self-winding movement, which is the result of a partnership between Ming and the Swiss manufacturer Schwarz-Etienne, features skeletonized bridges, a matte-blasted 5N rose gold coating, and a power reserve of approximately 70 hours.

Honestly, when I first saw this watch, I was immediately struck by its beauty and sophisticated looks. And the longer I look at it, the more I like it. Yes, the $11,800 price tag is quite hefty, considering this brand wasn’t around for a long time, but I personally think that innovation is more important than tradition. So please, give this watch a chance!

Specifications: Price: CHF 10,900 (Aprox. $11,800), Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50, Movement: Automatic caliber ASE220.1 movement, Power Reserve: 70 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer ($8,900)

Image credits: Omega Seamaster

Coming up next is the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer. To be precise, Omega calls it the “Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial Master Chronometer GMT Worldtimer 43mm”, but for your time’s sake, I will just be calling it the Aqua Terra Worldtimer.

The Omega Aqua Terra Worldtimer features a polished and brushed stainless steel case, which measures 43mm in diameter, 14.12mm in thickness, and 50mm from lug to lug. Initially, when I saw the 43mm, I immediately thought that this watch would be too big for me, but then, the 50mm lug to lug distance brought that whole thing a little bit more into perspective. And while I still think that the diameter and the lug-to-lug distance is quite hefty, I’m now not as reluctant to it as I was before, since a 50mm lug to lug distance is actually quite acceptable, especially when talking about a worldtimer watch. Anyway, let’s not focus too much on the case and its size, especially since this watch offers such an incredible dial. The dial, well well. The dial has a sun-brushed blue, vertical teak striped bass plate, which features 24 painted city names, as well as a central 24-hour glass ring, which is separated in light- and dark blue, to indicate day and night. But undoubtedly the most stunning feature of the dial is located in its center. Of course, I’m talking about the beautifully finished world map, that was created on a grade 5 titanium plate, which was laser-ablated to create the contrast between the blue ocean and the actual map. The contrasting colors of the Earth’s surface are obtained naturally by the laser’s chemical reaction. And after seeing the picture, I think you will agree with me, that this is the most beautiful and detailed worldtimer that is currently in production. Just look at the details of that map, the deep blue colors, it’s just magnificent!

Now that you heard me marvel about the dial, let’s take a look at what’s under the hood. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer is powered by the automatic, METAS-certified Master Chronometer Caliber 8938, which features a Co-Axial escapement, silicon balance springs, as well as a rhodium-plated finish on the whole movement, which you can see through the open caseback. The movement provides 60 hours of power reserve, which puts it on the upper part of the power reserves in today’s list.

If you are looking to buy a beautifully finished, mechanically sophisticated worldtimer watch, then the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer is perfect for you.

Specifications: Price: $8,900, Case Size: 43mm, Thickness: 14.12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Automatic METAS-certified Master Chronometer Caliber 8938 movement, Power Reserve: 60 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One ($15,500)

Image credits: Chopard

As the seasoned reader of this blog may recall, the Chopard L.U.C One lineup already made a few appearances in my articles. Specifically, the Chopard L.U.C GMT One, which, basically, is the smaller sibling of the L.U.C Time Traveler One, which made it onto today’s list. The Chopard Time Traveler One was one of my favorite new releases in this year’s Watches and Wonders 2021. And while the first model of the L.U.C Time Traveler One was released back in 2016, Chopard decided that it was time for an entirely new color scheme, as well as completely different case materials.

What do I mean by that? Well, the 2021 Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One features a 42mm, lightweight, ultra-durable case that is made from ceramised titanium, which has a very cool, monochrome look to it, which is thanks to the thought-through interplay between black, grey, and white colors. And this new, unique color combination, is what ultimately, made this watch to one of my highlights during Watches and Wonders 2021. The 42mm case, which measures 12.09mm in thickness, and 50mm from lug to lug, has not one, but two crowns on its right side. Why is that you ask? Well, one crown is used for normal stuff like setting the local time, setting the inner date ring, and winding the watch, while the second crown controls the light-grey and black 24-hour scale, as well as the outer ring that has the name of 24 cities inscribed on it.

The watch is powered by the hand-finished, automatic, in-house, L.U.C 01.05-L movement, which provides approximately 60 hours of power reserve.

Chopard targeted this limited-edition timepiece at the sophisticated gentleman traveler, that likes to live fast and needs a compact, ultra-light timepiece, that fits his jet setter lifestyle. And I think it’s fair to say, that they succeeded in that. Tremendously, I would add.

Specifications: Price: $15,500, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 12.09mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50mm, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic in-house, L.U.C 01.05-L movement, Power Reserve: 60 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Rolex GMT Master II ($9,000)

Image credits: Rolex

Next up is the Rolex GMT Master II. And I think it’s fair to say, that a list of travel-friendly watches that doesn’t feature the almighty Rolex GMT Master II, is just not complete. So I think, that from the beginning, both you and I, knew that this watch was coming. And rightfully so I must add, the Rolex GMT Master II is easily one of them, if not the, most successful luxury GMT watches out there.

I think Rolex as a brand doesn’t need to be introduced, so let’s dive straight into the facts. The Rolex GMT Master II comes, as of May 2021, in 8 different variations, ranging from the ‘Pepsi’ that is made from stainless steel, all the way to the ‘Rootbeer’, a spectacular piece that is made entirely from Everose gold. As you can see, there is one for every kind of collector. And while their materials differ hugely in price and looks, the actual specs are the same on all variants. The GMT Master II features an Oystersteel case, which measures 40mm in diameter, 12mm in thickness, and 48mm from lug to lug. Complementing the straightforward, polished case, is the clean dial, which features applied hour markers, the Mercedes-hands, a date window on 3 o’clock, and of course, the vibrant red independent 24-hour hand. Hugging the dial is the two-tone, 24-hour Cerachrom bezel, which, probably, is the most recognizable design aspect of this watch. 

Inside of the watch beats the self-winding Rolex 3285 Manufacture movement, which includes functionalities like, center hour, minute, and seconds hands, a 24-hour display, a second-time zone with independent rapid-setting of the hour hand, instantaneous date function, and stop-seconds for precise time setting.

The Oystersteel, which Rolex uses for their cases and their bracelets, has proven itself as a high quality, durable, and very comfortable choice. The seasoned reader of this blog will now, how much I adore their Oyster bracelet, and that I think that this is probably the best looking and feeling bracelet in the whole world.

So, to sum it up, you get the Rolex quality, combined with a GMT functionality and a wide selection of color combinations. And this for a list price of $9,000. What’s not to love about that? Well, thing is, it’s nearly impossible to get one at a retail price from an Authorized Retailer. This is an issue with all of the Rolex Steel sports models, but particularly with the Daytona and the GMT Master II’s. I won’t go into details about who’s at fault here and why this is happening, but I think we can all agree that those inflated prices, which are currently at around $20,000, are just ridiculous. Nevertheless, the Rolex GMT Master II is an awesome watch, that packs a lot of punch, and makes for an excellent choice when deciding on a travel watch.

Specifications: Price: Starting at $9,000, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Rolex 3285 Manufacture movement, Power Reserve: 70 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph 5990/1A ($53,300)

Image credits: Patek Philippe

Moving on to the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5990/1A, also known as the Travel Time Chronograph. And while this watch is indeed using the iconic Nautilus case, this watch has a lot more to offer than others of its kind. And like the name already suggests, this watch isn’t a normal GMT watch. Yes, it has a normal GMT functionality, which can be visible thanks to the centered independent GMT hand and the Day/Night indicator, but it also features another great complication. A flyback chronograph. Now why would Patek build a GMT watch, that simultaneously has a flyback chronograph complication, and is housed in a sports watch case? Well, I’m not entirely sure, but Patek advertises this watch to be a perfect companion to the most active lifestyle, which, now that I think about it, is quite a good recipe for a travel watch. Thanks to the range of complications, you can wear it from the moment you step out of your house to go to the airport, to the moment you step out of the Taxi after you returned from your holidays. It’s a perfect allrounder. A very expensive all-rounder, but a perfect one.

The Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph with the reference 5990/1A features a brushed stainless-steel case, which measures 40.5mm in diameter and 12.53mm in thickness, making it quite wearable on a broad range of different wrist sizes. But I think I don’t have to further explain the Nautilus case to you. We all know that it’s awesome. But what I would like to further inspect is the dial. The gradated black dial features a normal set of hour- and minute hands, a central chronograph hand, a second-hour hand, which indicates the home time, a day/night indicator for local- and home time, a date ring, as well as a 60 minutes counter. Well, that was quite the list, wasn’t it? I admire Patek Philippe for their ability to cramp a lot of complications, in one, good-looking, 40.5mm case. It’s just mind-blowing to me.

But as impressive as the outer appearance of the watch is, the real magic is going on inside of the case. Because all those fancy complications had to get there somehow. And in this case, Patek did it by implementing the self-winding Caliber CH 28‑520 C FUS, which offers all of the previously mentioned complications, as well as a power reserve of 45 to 55 hours.

I don’t think that I have to tell you that this watch is an awesome timepiece. I think you already know that. But what I have to tell you it is very hard to get this watch for the advertised retail price tag of $53,300, since the waiting lists are very long. I’m not talking about Rolex long, I’m talking about Patek Philippe Nautilus long. Therefore it’s far more likely that you will encounter grey market prices that range from $110,000 to $140,000. And since I won’t be able to afford that amount of money, I will keep dreaming and hoping to win the lottery… even if I don’t play.

Specifications: Price: Starting at $53,300, Case Size: 40.5mm, Thickness: 12.53mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 120m, Movement: Automatic Caliber CH 28‑520 C FUS e movement, Power Reserve: 45-55 hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Patek Philippe World Time 5230R ($40,000)

Image credits: Patek Philippe

And last one but not least, the Patek Philippe 5230R. Probably the most well-known and respected worldtimer watch. Highly coveted by frequent flyers, travelers, and collectors, this timepiece bears one of Patek Philipp’s signature complications. The almighty worldtimer. Based on the elegant solution of famous watchmaker Louis Cottier, Patek Philippe released the reference 1415 in 1939, which was their first-ever watch with a world time complication. Originally, this watch was known as the Heures Universelles. From 1939 on, Patek Philippe continued to produce this highly complicated watch, until, in 1965, they suddenly stopped. Nobody knows why and who decided that, but this production-stop remained for 35 years, until 2000 when Patek decided to reintroduce their worldtimer. And luckily, for us watch enthusiasts, the Patek Philippe Worldtimer stayed in production until this day, which, ultimately, brought us to where we are today.

The Patek Philippe 5230R features a rose gold case, which measures 38.5mm in diameter, 10.23mm in thickness, and 46.91mm from lug to lug. For me, the fact that Patek Philippe managed to build worldtime complication into a 38.5mm case, just goes to show that Patek deserved their spot on the top. And while the case itself is quite impressive, let me tell you about the dial. The center of the dial features a hand-guilloched, charcoal gray lacquered base plate, which is hugged by the two-tone 24-hour ring, as well as the crisp white inner bezel, which has the name of 24 cities inscribed on it. Like with any other worldtimer, each of the 24 different city names stands for different time zones, allowing you to tell the current time in 24 different time zones, all at once. The dial also features applied golden indexes, as well as a rose gold, pierced hour hand, which pays tribute to earlier models of the PP Worldtime.

And while the outer appearance of the watch is absolutely spectacular, there is, even more, to be excited about. You guessed it, the movement. This watch is powered by Patek’s automatic 240 HU movement, which is the result of 239 different parts, 8 bridges, and 33 jewels. The 240 HU beats at 21,600 BPH and provides approximately 48 hours of power reserve.

And there you have it, for a price of around $40,000, you can get your hands on a fantastic worldtimer watch that comes from one of the greatest watch manufacturers in the world.

Specifications: Price: Starting at $40,000, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 10.23mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.91mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Automatic 240 HU movement, Power Reserve: 48 hours, Crystal: Sapphire


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