In the world of smart phones and watches whose time-telling function is the least of their abilities, a traditional wrist watch seems anachronistic. What use is there for such a tool–jewelry, really; a status symbol, in some regards–that has one singular purpose, to tell time, when the phone in your pocket can do that, along with a bajillion other things. If I’m being honest, I guess there isn’t really any practical use for having a watch nowadays.
That said, the wrist watch market is still buzzing along nicely, with consumers spending more than $9 billion in the year ending in March 2019. Granted, this includes smartwatches but traditional watches alone pulled in nearly 60% of that total. There was particular interest in mechanical and precious metal watches, double digit growth from the previous year. For anachronistic tools, wrist watches seem to be doing pretty well.
What is it that keeps watches on people’s wrists? To me, it invokes a sense of romanticism and a simpler time before the endless notifications, tweets, likes, etc. It’s classy. It’s the closest most guys would get to wearing a bracelet.
I’ve worn watches consistently–daily–for probably 20 years now, but only in the last year or so have I really gotten into watches, diving into the mechanics and technology, learning the history of the brands, and understanding the complications. And as I’ve gotten deeper into this hobby, there’s one type of complication that I’ve had an affinity to: the GMT.
So what exactly is a GMT complication? Essentially, the complication allows you to track two–and up to three–different time zones at the same time. Instead of a standard three-hand set up, there is a fourth hand that can be independently set to a 24-hour track around the dial. If the watch has a rotating bezel (like my Glycine Airman 18, above), a third zone can be tracked. The watch in the picture is set to my home time (California, GMT -8), Paris (GMT +1), and Kuala Lumpur (GMT +7).
The appeal of the GMT watch to me is that it’s a constant reminder of my love for world traveling. I have the occasional trip outside of California a few times a year but I don’t get travel to other countries too often. Having a GMT on my wrist–a classy, classic watch, so rare nowadays–is a gentle nudge to myself to plan a trip. It’s inspiration to get away for a while, a resonance to explore a different country, a different culture–however many time zones away.
I’m looking forward to taking my GMT on jaunt through Basque Country in November.