Best of 2019 – Our Top 5 Traveller’s Watches (GMT & WorldTime)
The MONOCHROME team selects the best traveller's watches of 2019.
2019 has been another hectic year for the watchmaking industry, with multiple announcements, debates on the pertinence of watch fairs and numerous novelties. But 2019 is coming to an end and it is time to look back at which were the best models introduced. After a look at our 5 favourite chronograph watches and our 5 favourite dive watches, we’ll now look at the traveller’s watch category – GMT and WorldTime timepieces – as this is, to us, the most practical complication on a daily basis, for modern gentlemen. Here it is, our “best of 2019” guide for multiple-time-zone watches.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight”
Combining a travel complication to a pilot’s watch is a natural connection… Since pilots travel across multiple time zones on a regular basis, this function totally makes sense. And IWC is fully aware of that. After introducing the TimeZoner complication on a chronograph watch in 2016, this year the Schaffhausen-based brand presents a slightly simplified model, without the timing function, which clearly benefits the legibility of the piece. Celebrating what doesn’t change, however, is the powerful look and the clever way to change the time zone, by rotating the crown – which actuates the central hour hand, by one-hour increments. For the occasion, the Pilot’s Watch TimeZoner comes in a Spitfire edition, with vintage accents and overall, a cool look.
Quick Facts: 46mm diameter x 15.2mm height – stainless steel case – Calibre IWC 82760, in-house – self-winding – TimeZoner function for setting a second time zone with the bezel – green textile strap – IW395501 – limited to 250 pieces – EUR 13,700
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Dual Time
This year, at Time to Move, Jaquet Droz introduced a slightly modified version of its Dual Time watch. Relying on the classic Grande Seconde base, this unique display allows the integration of the complication in the lower part of the dial, while keeping the iconic 8-figure, a great balance and legibility. For this new 2019 version, the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Dual Time receives a new traveller’s display, with a complex sub-dial: seconds on the periphery, then date, then dual time and finally, in the centre, a world map. This might sound complex but the result is easy to use – and to set, as everything can be adjusted by the crown.
Quick Facts: 43mm diameter x 13.13mm height – stainless steel case – Jaquet Droz Calibre 2663H24, in-house – second time zone and world map – alligator strap – CHF 15,200
Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC
When it comes to traveller’s watches, keep in mind that most pieces aren’t really focused on user-friendliness… But this Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC makes things extremely simple, with its two pushers on the right side of the case to move the local time hand backwards or forwards. Convenient and intuitive, the Porsche way. The rest is also very pleasant, with a minimalist design, a well-balanced dial with clear sectors, a robust titanium case, a COSC-certified movement and a UTC module developed especially for the brand.
Quick Facts: 42mm diameter x 14.90mm height – glass-bead-blasted and polished grade 5 titanium – Porsche Design Calibre WERK 04.110, based on Sellita SW 200 – 24h GMT display, day/night indication – brown Porsche car leather strap – EUR 5,950
Rolex GMT-Master II Batman 126710BLNR
I know… this one is almost too easy. But let’s be honest, availability and premium issues apart, the Rolex GMT-Master II remains one of the top traveller’s watches on the market – and the one that actually created the concept in the mid-1950s. After the steel/Pepsi of 2018, Rolex refreshes the other model in the collection, the BLNR or so-called “Batman”, with its blue and black bezel. For the occasion, it receives the new Calibre 3285 and a Jubilee bracelet. In short, it looks very, very good. What doesn’t change is the impressive quality, the accuracy of the movement, the practical complication that needs no explanations anymore… making this watch the industry’s benchmark. However, getting one from an official Rolex dealer, at retail price, is another story.
Quick Facts: 40mm diameter x approx. 12.5mm height – Oystersteel case – calibre 3285, in-house, Superlative Chronometer certified – central GMT indication and rotating bezel on 24h – Jubilee Oystersteel bracelet – 126710BLNR – EUR 8,500
Urban Jürgensen One GMT
There’s no denying the supremacy of the luxury sports watch market these days, and if this watch can be categorized in this segment, at least it tries something different – and it is successful in doing so. Not only is the design of the new Urban Jürgensen One GMT extremely pleasant, without copying existing icons, but its execution is impressive. A beautifully crafted case and bracelet, a detailed dial with guilloché pattern, sumptuous hands and a nice proprietary movement, now automatic. Finally, the pushers on the side of the case allow for an easy setting of the dual-time complication, both forwards and backwards.
Quick Facts: 41mm diameter x 13.8mm height – medical-grade steel case – self-winding calibre P5 – 24h GMT indication set by pushers – steel bracelet – CHF 33,500 (excl. taxes)
Special Mention – MING 19.02 Worldtimer
Last but not least, a special mention. Why didn’t this MING 19.02 Worldtimer make it to our Top 5 traveller’s watches of 2019? Well, in terms of functionalities, we’ve clearly seen better. But the design is simply superb, it is so different from the rest, at the same time relatively restrained but also bold, minimalistic, organic and playing on depth and transparency. Design-wise, one of MONOCHROME’s favourite watches of the year. And the movement, done by Schwarz Etienne, is equally pleasant to look at, with its micro-rotor and its sandblasted, gold-finished bridges.
Quick Facts: 39mm diameter – grade 5 titanium case – Schwarz Etienne for MING Calibre ASE220.1 – world time complication – calf leather strap – CHF 10,900 (excl. taxes)
Seiko Astron. Practical, automatic time changes via satellite, superior accuracy, and inexpensive compared to the featured watches.
The new Overseas dual-time with black dial is nice, too. Although it pales next to the Cory Richards version.
It would also be good to see some affordable options here. The majority of people do not have 40,000 Euros to spend on a watch.
And for a third of the actual Rolex GMT price you also have the Seiko Prospex LX GMT “Batman” SNR033J1 😉
Well quite. “Traveller’s Watch”? Unless you’re going from 5 star hotel to fancy beach resort via private car and private plane, these are exactly the wrong watches to wear. You’re just ASKING to be robbed!
If you’re actually traveling and you don’t have a BBC film crew and logistical support, you take along something discrete, functional and cheap. Something you don’t mind losing.
This amusing collection of shiny toys brings to mind images of a couple arguing in a tent in Borneo:
“Well why did you bring it then?”
“Because it’s the toughest mechanical watch out there”
“So why are you complaining?”
“Because I SWEAR the bezel action is different now. Listen!”
“Get to sleep!!”
Seiko SNR033 or Timex “3 GMT”. Listen to weather, clearances, NOTAMS (notices to airmen), conduct flight planning and crew scheduling in GMT-ZULU time. Main hour and minutes in local time, and 3rd (chapter ring) time in home time to know when to call and check in with the family or make local time appointments.
Really disappointed at the scarcity of “3 GMT” calibers out there right now.