‘Dialed In’ With Nick Sullivan: Your Essential Video Guide to GMT Watches

Are you the sort who likes to switch off on a long haul flight and watch a movie or one who can’t wait to get on the in-flight Wi-Fi so you can work all night? Either way, a GMT watch is your friend. It’s one of the most useful of watch functions, one that keeps track of two time zones at once, using a local 12 hour hand and an away hand that completes a revolution of the dial once in 24 hours. You can set it to keep track of the working day in say, your company’s head office in Tokyo or simply track time in your final destination as you fly—a useful trick to help combat the effects of jet lag on your own body clock.

Another thing. If you are the sort to jump on the Wi-Fi as soon as the plane reaches the requisite altitude, your phone will update to local time across each time zone as long as the Wi-Fi signal is there. Which means when you’re flying over Greenland it will tell you the time in Greenland. But you’re not in Greenland, you’re in a plane. This can be extremely confusing, especially if you’ve taken an Ambien. Which is why the mechanical GMT is proof that progress isn’t everything.

First conceived for the use of pilots in the early 1950s to keep track of time on long haul flights and using military or 24-hour time to help distinguish between day and night, most GMTs have the bezel marked out with the 24 hours and a useful (and rather attractive) bicolor decoration (Pepsi anyone?), with daylight hours occupying the bottom half and night at the top. As the 24 hour hand moves at half the speed of the local hour hand, It takes a bit of getting used to. But once you’ve got the hang of it, frankly, you’ll wonder why you didn’t buy one years ago.

As complications go, the best and most iconic GMT’s can set you back five figures, but as we dive into this great and often overlooked watch genre here on Dialed In, there are plenty of good examples at moderate to medium price levels, too.

Nick Sullivan is Creative Director at Equire, where he served as Fashion Director from 2004 until 2019. Prior to that, he relocated from London with his young family to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. He has styled and art directed countless fashion and cover stories for both Esquire and Big Black Book (which he helped found in 2006) in exotic,uncomfortable, and occasionally unfeasibly cold locations. He also writes extensively about men’s style, accessories, and watches. He describes his style as elegantly disheveled.

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