Style / World of Watches (WOW)

WOW Reports: Travel Restart

Pack your bags and head out to see the world with one of these purposeful and stylish watches.

Apr 14, 2022 | By Ruckdee Chotjinda
bell & ross BR 05 GMT, travel watches
Image: Bell & Ross

Bell & Ross BR 05 GMT

The BR 05 collection is a commendable attempt by Bell & Ross to transfuse and transpose the codes of its famously distinctive professional ranges into a more urban, lifestyle-oriented timepiece. After the time-only and the chronograph models, GMT marks the next logical addition to the range. The setup is straightforward with a 24-hour hand and a corresponding scale on the dial flange, which is minimalistic with black for the night hours and grey for the day. Elsewhere on the dial, we especially like how the date window frame mimics the shape of the bezel itself. Its raised profile is also in harmony with the applied hour markers all around. It must be said that we like this watch a lot, and it is one of only a couple on this list that we have featured repeatedly.

The only caveat is the fact that the GMT hand is quickset, not the local hour hand, so setting the time when you land in a new country can be a bit cumbersome. This of course highlights that the movement here is not purpose-built for the GMT function, but the form factor of the watch makes it a relatively good value proposition. We can report with some degree of authority (see last issue) that it wears extremely well. The BR 05 GMT is sold on either a bracelet or a rubber strap with a folding buckle. The bracelet link design is as strong as it is graceful, so we strongly advise that you consider the bracelet as your priority purchase.

Blancpain Villeret Quantième Complet GMT

Lest we forget, not all GMT watches are sports models, but the dress version is actually relatively rare; finding one with a complete calendar is almost unheard of. The Blancpain Villeret Quantième Complet GMT is a perfect example of just such a watch, and it is really very much the case that this is more of a complicated watch than a dressy one. Introduced at Baselworld 2018, this Villeret watch is essentially a complete calendar timepiece with the added utility of a 24-hour hand. The dial may look crowded at first glance, but there is order to everything. A serpentine hand, a Blancpain standard, marks the date on the outer perimeter of the dial. The hour and minute hands point to the applied Roman numerals for the time. The innermost ring is the 24-hour scale with a corresponding, red-tipped hand. Then, there are the windows for the day of the week, month and moon phase at the centre of the dial.

Adjusting local time in 1-hour increments is possible through the crown while the calendar is set by the hidden underlug correctors Blancpain is known for. Buy this 40mm watch in stainless steel with a white dial or in red gold with an opaline dial; the rare factor mentioned above is amplified by the price and the utilitarian metal option. Both materials are offered on either an alligator leather strap or a matching bracelet in the same metal. Bear in mind the weight of the full bracelet version, especially for the gold version.

Breitling Super Chronomat B01 44

Breitling Super Chronomat B01 44
Image: Breitling

The new Super Chronomat watches entered the watch market about a year ago, to the delight of Breitling fans, and people who like large and quirky watches. Billed as an all-purpose sports watch, the Super Chronomat is big and bold at 44mm diameter and 14.45mm thick – the word ‘super’ here is used appropriately. This particular Chronomat watch features, for the first time, a unidirectional rotating bezel with a ceramic insert. As expected, the sapphire crystal is coated with anti-reflective treatment on both sides; completely unexpected though is how the second time zone is displayed.

The in-house Breitling Calibre 01 is a column wheel chronograph movement that does not offer the GMT complication by itself. To indicate time in a second country, Breitling equips the bracelet of the Super Chronomat with what they call a UTC module. This is in essence a small quartz watch with dedicated hour and minute hands for you to set the time as you wish. It is a practical solution indeed because to use a very small and thin mechanical movement would have compromised the intended sturdiness of the Super Chronomat. Besides, the module looks very cool and unmistakable — it is definitely a conversation starter. We hope it starts a conversation at manufactures about how to integrate some smart functions in traditional watches.

Bvlgari Aluminium GMT

Bvlgari Aluminium GMT
Image: Bvlgari

Two of the watches launched by Bvlgari on Geneva Watch Days 2021 back in September proposed that it was time for us to travel once again. One of them included this Bvlgari Aluminium GMT watch in a 40mm aluminium case with a titanium caseback, titanium crown and blue rubber bezel. Rated at 100-metre water-resistance and fitted with a blue rubber strap with aluminium links and an aluminium pin buckle, the light-weight timepiece is ready to crisscross time zones with a red-tipped 24-hour hand to indicate home time. A bicolour flange surrounds the dark blue dial; the upper half comes in the same hue as the dial for the night hours, and the lower half in red for daytime. The preponderance of aluminium here is a standout in fine watchmaking, and points to the origins of this model in the late 1990s.

The Bvlgari Aluminium GMT is equipped with the B192 self-winding calibre with a power reserve of 42 hours. We would like to see Bvlgari wrap an image of this watch on the exterior of an airplane as it did with an Alitalia Boeing 747 back in the late ‘90s. That would be seriously cool, and would also remind the world that aluminium has some seriously interesting properties in both the aerospace and watchmaking industries. You will remember that Bvlgari has a lot of experience working with aluminium, most notably when it was a family-owned brand. The aluminium used here is some sort of proprietary alloy that is apparently more resilient than what the firm used in the past. As part of LVMH, Bvlgari is one of a few like-minded mixed-materials specialists, but the brand is the OG of this once-niche territory.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer GMT

Aikon has been crucial to the growth of Maurice Lacroix since 2016, beginning first with the quartz models before the mechanical ones were offered as well. The range is truly part of the zeitgeist, with the brand having predicted the market’s hunger for excellent sports models with superlative bracelets. Maurice Lacroix’s interchangeable strap system is also praiseworthy, making the watches more attractive with certain packages, but more on pricing later. Subsequent to the launch, the Aikon Venturer added versatility with a unidirectional rotating bezel for diving use. That bezel is redesigned to be bidirectional and with a 24-hour scale for the GMT version of the Aikon Venturer.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer GMT
Image: Maurice Lacroix

The black dial version is paired with a red GMT hand while the white dial version comes with an orange GMT hand. Both dials feature a sunray-brushed finish for that subtle play with light. Maurice Lacroix sells the Aikon Venturer GMT in three ways: on a bracelet, on a rubber strap, or on a bracelet but with a rubber strap included in the package for you to switch using the Easychange system. If we could change one thing with this watch, it would be to make the local hour hand quickset instead of the GMT hand, but this should not be a dealbreaker as the watch is a very interesting choice in all other respects. It is also worth noting that the Aikon Venturer GMT is quite competitively priced, comfortably under the CHF3,000 mark, even with the additional rubber strap.

Mido Ocean Star GMT

Mido Ocean Star GMT
Image: Mido
Mido Ocean Star GMT
Image: Mido

We conclude this curation of GMT watches with the Mido Ocean Star GMT. All things being equal, this is one of the best buys in recent years. For the money, you get the solid build of the stainless steel case, 200-metre water-resistance from the use of a screw-down crown, a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel insert in either blue or black (depending on the models), anti-reflective treatment on both sides of the sapphire crystal, 80 hours of power reserve from the Mido Calibre GMT 80.661, and a quickset local hour hand to make this a true traveller’s GMT watch. That is a lot to take in there, and these are just facts. Perhaps most amazingly, this value-loaded watch springs from a historic Swiss brand.

If sporting a big gun on your wrist is a must, this 44mm model will do you nicely. It sports a lug width of 22mm so you will especially enjoy how the bracelet or the textile strap wraps around the wrist. A chart is engraved on the caseback to show the hour offsets of the major cities in the world. While it is not particularly handy or useful, the radar-like design of the chart contributes to the character of the Ocean Star GMT as a utilitarian or technical timepiece.

Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit

Moritz Grossmann Universalzeit
Image: Moritz Grossmann

Here is a totally new watch that made it just in time for this story, although truth be told it might have made our already stretchy deadline a tad more elastic. The Universalzeit is neither a textbook GMT watch because it does not show only two time zones, nor is it a world time watch where all 24 time zones are displayed at once. This Moritz Grossmann should then be classified as a multi time zone watch as it tells time in seven cities in a most readable fashion. We actually spoke with CEO Christine Hunter on the occasion of the local launch of this watch, and will bring you that story in an upcoming issue.

In addition to the main hands for local time, there are six circular windows scattered on the painted world map for the time in Phoenix, Rio de Janerio, Cape Town, Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo. All the numbers you see in these windows are printed in the arrangement of six rings on the same disc, not six separate ones. That, in fact, is the most radical thing about this watch, which is also astonishingly elegant and efficient. At the beginning of the new hour, the disc would move forward by one position for all city times to be refreshed at once. If worn when travelling, the local hour hand can be adjusted as needed by pushing the button at the 10 o’clock position of the 44.5 mm stainless steel case. This is a manualwinding watch with an in-house Glashütte movement that offers a power reserve of 42 hours.

Perrelet Lab Peripheral Dual Time Big Date

Perrelet Peripheral Dual Time Big Date
Image: Perrelet

Perrelet may be best known for its Turbine watches, and for its claims about pioneering automatic winding watches in the 18th century, but there is more to the brand from Bienne. This Perrelet Lab Peripheral Dual Time Big Date represents a rather recent addition to the product portfolio. Measuring 42mm, the cushion-shaped stainless steel watch indicates time in two zones simultaneously with two separate sets of hour and minute hands. The subdial at six o’clock display the second time zone, complete with a discreet but functional day/night indicator, making the watch even more practical and useful.

Additionally, the space towards the upper half of the dial is dedicated to the two discrete windows of the big date complication — a rare find in GMT watches. Fans of the Turbine watches and their double rotor movement architecture will be pleased to see that the in-house, self-winding Calibre P-421 of this watch is designed with a dial-side peripheral rotor for added visual dynamism as it generates a power reserve of up to 42 hours. The contemporary Perrelet brand is owned by the Festina Group, which gives the watchmakers access to the group’s movement manufacturer, Soprod. The Perrelet Lab Peripheral Dual Time Big Date is offered in three colour variations: deep blue, black and silver.

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