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These Are Some of the Most Affordable GMT Watches

GMTs needn’t be bank-breaking. From big Swiss companies and upstart microbrands, here are 9 affordable versions.

collage of three watches
Gear Patrol

An extra hand indicating another time zone has made the GMT watch useful and popular, but also more complicated than a basic time-telling watch — and for many years a well built one was also a relatively expensive proposition. Today, however, the landscape is changing, and 2022 has been a breakthrough year in the affordable GMT market with exciting new options and even automatics coming in well under a grand.

It's a good time to be in the market for an affordable GMT.

The popularity of GMT watches is based on a few factors. First, additional functions (complications) simply make a watch more interesting, and the GMT is one of the most genuinely useful you're going to find, especially in a world where both travel and international communication are ever more commonplace. Next, among complications, it's one of the most accessible — being far more affordable than the also popular chronograph. Finally, they lend themselves to sporty, colorful designs à la the prototypical Rolex GMT Master with its bicolored bezel. This popularity has driven boutique brands and the big watchmakers alike to offer more affordable options.

What Is a GMT Watch?

GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time, time zone zero against which all other time zones are numbered, also known as UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). A GMT watch displays the time like a normal analog watch, but it adds an additional 24-hour hand that can be set separately. Many (not all) GMT watches also feature a rotating bezel with 24-hour markings, allowing you to track yet another time zone if you so choose.

gmt watch
Christopher Ward

An example: my watch now indicates 10:10 am where I am on the US East Coast. I've got colleagues in California, so set the GMT hand set accordingly and it indicates just past 7 am on the dial's 24-hour scale. I've also got colleagues in Geneva, though, so the bezel is rotated such that the GMT hand indicates 16:10 (4:10 pm). Pretty simple.

What to Look for in an Affordable GMT Watch

If you want a GMT watch for its functionality, you might need to look closely when shopping in the affordable range. Some watches might look like GMTs, for example, due to a bi-colored bezel, without actually offering the actual complication. While you can nominally track another time zone simply with a rotating 12-hour bezel and normal time telling, this isn't a GMT (and it might leave you confused about whether the hour it displays is am or pm) — though it might be a more affordable alternative, especially if you just want the look.

Another type of watch to look out for is those that included a 24-hour hand which isn't able to be independently set. These are watches that simultaneously indicate your current time in traditional format as well as on a 24-hour scale — basically, telling you whether it's am or pm, which can also be handy but is quite different from a GMT.

Timex Waterbury Traditional GMT

Timex Waterbury Traditional GMT

timex.com
$189.00

We would recommend the Q Timex GMT, but it was such a hit that it sold right out (though you can still find them on the second-hand market). The Waterbury, though, ain't a bad alternative. It's got traditional looks and functionality but is powered by a quartz movement and available at rock-bottom prices. In other words, it's a Timex through and through with excellent sizing, the right look and, of course, the convenience of a GMT.

  • Diameter: 39mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water Resistance: 100m

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    Seiko 5 Sports SKX Sports Style GMT

    Seiko 5 Sports SKX Sports Style GMT

    seikousa.com
    $475.00

    Look around at GMT watches in this price point and even above: they're going to be quartz. But here you have an automatic GMT with a solid Seiko movement from the same family of movements that powers famous dive watches like the Turtle. Yes, Seiko changed the GMT game when they released the Seiko 5 Sports GMT — and, like the rest of the collection, it's shockingly well-built and thoughtfully designed for the money. Best of all, it's fully got its own great look that doesn't feel like another Rolex wannabe.

    • Diameter: 42.5mm
    • Movement: Seiko 4R34 automatic
    • Water Resistance: 100m

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      Victorinox FieldForce GMT

      Victorinox FieldForce GMT

      victorinox.com
      $525.00

      You can get into a Swiss GMT watch for under a grand. That mostly means quartz, but that's no hit against a watch like this Victorinox with a sleek, utilitarian black dial, the distinctive Swiss Army branding, a 42mm case and 100m of water resistance. Robust and affordable, this may be the perfect option for the budget traveler that doesn't want to mess around with fussy mechanical watches.

      • Diameter: 42mm
      • Movement: Quartz
      • Water Resistance: 100m

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        Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive GMT

        Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive GMT

        amazon.com
        $550.00
        $298.95 (46% off)

        If you want to take your GMT watch into the water and not worry about it but also don’t want to spend a ton of moolah, this Eco-Drive from Citizen could be your best bet. It’s admittedly large (44mm), but it’s got a colorful style serious dive-equipment vibe going on, and the battery should outlast you, given that it charges via sunlight.

        • Diameter: 44mm
        • Movement: Citizen Eco-Drive solar quartz
        • Water Resistance: 200m

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          Bulova Wilton GMT

          Courtesy

          Bulova Wilton GMT

          bulova.com
          $875.00
          $700.00 (20% off)

          Seiko rival Citizen owns both Bulova and the company that made the automatic GMT movement inside the Wilton GMT, Miyota. It almost seemed to come as an answer to the Seiko 5 Sports GMT (above) but isn't an analog to it. The Miyota 9075 automatic movement comes from a more premium tier of movements, and it offers the often valued ability to set the hour hand independently (instead of the GMT hand as on Seiko and many Swiss GMTs). It might be a bit more in price than the Seiko 5 Sports, but it's got some value to back it up and some handsome looks, as well.

          • Diameter: 43mm
          • Movement: Miyota 9075 automatic
          • Water Resistance: 30m

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            Baltic Aquascaphe GMT

            Baltic

            Baltic Aquascaphe GMT

            baltic-watches.com
            €920.00

            A GMT-equipped variation of Baltic's flagship dive watch, the Aquascaphe, this 39mm charmer features a lot of the traditional GMT cues but somehow has its own look. With a Swiss automatic movement inside, microbrands such as Baltic show that not only Seiko and Citizen can compete in this range. It's a hell of a value and perhaps even versatile enough to be the one watch you own.

            • Diameter: 39mm
            • Movement: Soprod C125 automatic
            • Water Resistance: 100m

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              Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT

              Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT

              christopherward.com
              $1,040.00

              If there's a genre of watch of which Christopher Ward doesn't make 28 variations, you probably don't want it anyway. The sporty GMT is among those, and the C63 Sealander GMT exhibits everything you'd want in from this style of watch, including all the right specs, but also the strong value this British brand is known for. We also love the 39mm sizing and 150m of water resistance.

              • Diameter: 39mm
              • Movement: Sellita SW330 automatic
              • Water Resistance: 150m

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                Mido Ocean Star GMT

                Mido Ocean Star GMT

                midowatches.com
                $1,250.00

                For a solid, refined dive watch from an established Swiss brand for not a ton of cash, you're not going to find a better automatic GMT than this. As part of the Swatch Group, Mido has access to the excellent 80-hour-power-reserve automatic movement from its sister company ETA. The Ocean Start GMT is kind of a whopper in size at 44mm, but you'll find that it's exceedingly well built for the money.

                • Diameter: 44mm
                • Movement: ETA C07.621 automatic
                • Water Resistance: 200m

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                  Farer GMT Bezel Automatic

                  Farer GMT Bezel Automatic

                  farer.com
                  $1,475.00

                  Built around the Sellita SW330 automatic movement and offering a rotating 24-hour bezel with colors indicating day and night, the GMT Bezel collection from Farer offers the microbrand value we love, decent water resistance and the brand's signature vibrant look. The GMT Bezel is handsome, sleek, and with its eye-popping dial colors, perhaps the perfect summer travel watch. (It’s also available in different colorways, each offering a fresh and unique look for the same price).

                  • Diameter: 40.5mm
                  • Movement: Sellita SW330-1 Top Grade automatic
                  • Water Resistance: 100

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                    Monta Atlas

                    Monta Atlas

                    cozyearth.com
                    $399.00
                    $85.25 (79% off)

                    The Monta Atlas is no-nonsense, Swiss-made GMT from one of our favorite American microbrands. Yes, we're talking around two grand, but we've included it among affordable GMTs simply because of the value it offers for its strongly Rolex vibes. Available in numerous dial colors and strap options, the Atlas perfectly straddles the line between sport and everyday watch, and it’s got 150m of water resistance to boot. (Also check out the Skyquest for even Rolexier vibes.)

                    Diameter: 38.5mm
                    Movement: ETA 2893-2 automatic
                    Water Resistance: 150m

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