Top 11 Best Affordable GMT watches [List & Guide]
GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time, and whenever you hear the term ”GMT” being used in the context of watches, it refers to the watch having an additional hour hand – a GMT hand. This means that the watch actually has two hour hands. Why, you may ask?
Well, GMT watches have one hour hand for regular timekeeping, and the additional hour hand is used to allow you to actually keep track of multiple timezones simultaneously. To enable this, GMT watches have, together with the GMT hand, a 24-hour bezel which is the indicator of the hours. Some GMT watches have fixed GMT bezels, which only allow you to keep track of one additional timezone. But other, more advanced timepieces, are equipped with bidirectional rotating bezels which allow you to keep track of multiple timezones simultaneously by rotating the bezel.
Greenwich mean time is actually the solar time according to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. Unlike most time zones around the world, GMT is not affected by Daylight Savings.
The history of GMT stretches all the way back to 1884 when it was decided by an international convention that Greenwich would be the “mean time”, the ”reference time” against all of the other of the world’s time zones would be compared.
The first GMT watch
The first GMT watch ever made was the Rolex GMT-Master reference 6542 which was released in 1954. The GMT-Master was conceived after PanAm requested a timepiece from Rolex that would make it possible to keep track of multiple timezones simultaneously. This was particularly important for the PanAm pilots when flights started flying across timezones – across the Atlantic from the USA. This would enable the pilot to know the local time back at home, but at the same time, the local time – simultaneously.
Because of the great success of the GMT-Master, Rolex would come to add it to its standard collection of timepieces for the public.
Because of this, GMT watches are often associated with Rolex, or in general, more expensive timepieces. The good news is that GMT watches do not have to cost tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, there are plenty of affordable GMT watches on the market today to choose from. Worth having in mind, however, is that because GMT watches are more complex than regular timepieces, they do in general command a slightly higher price than the time-only timepieces.
The concept of ”affordable” is also very subjective. Whilst a gold Rolex GMT-Master watch can cost tens of thousands of dollars, other brands make them available starting from just a few hundred dollars. In that sense, we can call them affordable. This is great news since it means that GMT watches are not solely reserved for a selected few.
Best affordable GMT watches
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If you are looking for a watch that can keep track of multiple timezones simultaneously, a GMT is a must. In fact, we would even dare to say that every watch collector should have at least one GMT watch in their collection. Whether you are jet-setting or just traveling occasionally, the GMT feature can be truly useful for knowing the time at home, as well as the local time in the country you are in – all at the same time.
Without further ado, let’s look closer at the best affordable GMT watches.
Victorinox FieldForce GMT
The Victorinox FieldForce GMT is available at just a few hundred dollars. Like most Victorinox timepieces, it has a sporty, military-inspired design with an emphasis on legibility. It is presented with a matte black dial with large Arabic numerals coated with a generous amount of Lumibrite for excellent legibility even in low-lit conditions.
It has a date window positioned at 3 o’clock, and unlike most GMT watches on the market, it doesn’t have a GMT 24-hour bezel. Instead, the bezel is reserved for 60-second markers. As such, the 24-hour indicator is presented on the inner part of the dial, and the watch is executed in a way that the GMT hand has an open oval, and inside this oval, you see the GMT time displayed, which is a really nice and unique design feature.
The watch is mostly monochrome and black for a sporty look, but for a touch of color, the seconds hand is painted red. All in all, the Victorinox FieldForce is a great everyday watch that is durable, robust, and versatile.
- Diameter: 42mm
- Thickness: 11.3mm
- Lug width: 21mm
- Water resistance: 10ATM/100M/330 feet
Alpina Automatic Sport Watch AL-555DGS4H6
Alpina is a Swiss watch brand that is known for making high-quality, well-finished timepieces. As such, their watches are in the medium price range and are usually priced above 1000 USD. But with that said, they still offer exceptional value for money.
The AL-555DGS4H6 is inspired by an Alpina design from the 1970s, which explains its vintage-inspired and funky design. It is presented with a stainless steel case with a diameter of 42mm, designed with a barrel case design. On top of the case is a boded sapphire crystal. This watch does not have a bidirectional bezel, instead, the 24-hour GMT markers have been positioned around the outer edge of the dial. The good news is that the internal ring is rotatable, allowing you to keep track of more than two time zones simultaneously. The omitting of the bezel allows for a more classic design and gives room for the beautiful case with a striking finish and combination of brushed and polished.
The watch is powered by the AL-555 Automatic caliber and features an in-house modified GMT movement. Thanks to this movement, the wearer can keep track of 3 time zones simultaneously.
The dial has a beautiful black/grey sunburst finish at the center, and the GMT disc around the outer edge is made white for contrast. At 3 o’clock, you also have a date window which is always convenient to have.
All in all, this is just a great watch built with high-quality, great performance, and really nice attention to detail in every single aspect – from the polishing and brushing of the case to the applied metal hour markers on the dial.
- Crystal: Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
- Caliber: AL-555, Automatic movement
- Jewels: 26
- Power reserve: 38 hours
- Diameter: 42mm
- Water resistance: 10 ATM/100M/330FT
Tissot TIST0694394403100 Titanium GMT
Tissot is a well-respected Swiss watch brand that is known for making high-quality yet affordable timepieces that offer great value for money.
It has a simple and classic design which is great if you are looking for something more discreet that can work for everyday wear. The watch has a titanium case with a diameter of 43mm and a water resistance of 100m/330 feet. What is so interesting about this watch is that it does the GMT function a lot differently. Instead of incorporating an additional hour hand at the center, it is equipped with a 24-hour sub-dial which presents the GMT hour time. The ”downside” of this is of course that it only allows you to keep track of one additional time zone.
Because of the titanium case, the watch is very light and comfortable to wear. It features a simple and elegant white dial with skeletonized hands and a date window positioned at 3 o’clock. On top of the case sits an anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
- Water resistance: 100m/330 feet
- Diameter: 43mm
- Crystal: anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Hamilton Jazzmaster GMT H32695131
Hamilton is known for its military-inspired timepieces, which is the result of Hamilton’s rich heritage and history of making such timepieces, in particular during the second world war.
The Hamilton Jazzmaster GMT H32695131 is a sporty timepiece featuring a 42mm stainless steel case, powered by a Swiss self-winding movement with 21 jewels. The power reserve is 50 hours. On top of the case sits a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
The GMT function that this watch offers is really great as it allows you to keep track of far more than just 2 or 3 timezones. This watch is equipped with an additional GMT-hour hand which is painted red, making it easy to spot. Around the outer edge of the dial, it has 24-hour markers, but in addition, at the very edge, it has lots of cities printed. This is great because whichever city the GMT hand points at is the current time in that specific city. With that said, this is the ultimate watch for the jet-setter.
The watch has a sleek and elegant black dial with a date window positioned at 6 o’clock. The case is nicely executed with brushed and polished elements and is presented on a sporty yet elegant stainless steel bracelet.
- Power reserve: 50 hours
- Jewels: 21
- Movement: Automatic self.winding caliber
- Diameter: 42mm
- Crystal: anti-reflective scratch-resistant sapphire
Luminox SXC Swiss Quartz Watch
The Luminox SXC GMT is a sporty, bulky, and robust watch with a diameter of 45mm. It is equipped with a large additional GMT hour hand and the 24-hour markers printed on the dial.
The watch is powered by an analog quartz movement and has a bidirectional rotating bezel with 24-hour markers engraved on it. With that said, you can keep track of multiple time zones either by reading the dial or by reading the bezel. On top of the case sits a hardened mineral crystal. The watch is water-resistant to 300m/660 feet which is obviously very tough and in line with this watch’s purpose.
If you’re looking for a tough timepiece that is built to last and handle virtually any hardships you subject it to, this is a great alternative.
- Diameter: 45mm
- Water resistance: 300m/660 feet
- Movement: Analog quartz
- Crystal: hardened mineral crystal
Citizen BJ7006-56L Eco-Drive
The Citizen Blue Angels BJ7006-56L is a serious pilot’s watch with a sporty design and great performance.
As you can see on the dial, it has a lot going on with plenty of useful functions and features. It has a date window positioned at 3 o’clock and of course a GMT function. It is powered by Citizens Eco-Drive caliber B877 movement featuring 12/14-hour time and has a pilot’s rotating slide ring. Eco-Drive means that the watch is powered by solar and ambient light which eliminates the need for replacing the battery.
On top of the case sits an anti-reflective mineral crystal.
With its sporty design and plenty of functions, this is a great everyday watch for those looking for something sporty and versatile.
- Movement: Citizen Eco-DriveDquartz caliber B877
- Crystal: anti-reflective mineral crystal
- Diameter: 42mm
Longines Heritage GMT L2.822.214.171.124
The Longines Heritage GMT L2.8126.96.36.199 is, as the name suggests, a vintage-inspired timepiece with a classic design. It has a diameter of 44mm, a classic stainless steel case design, and a vintage-inspired black dial with painted numerals. The 24-hour GMT markers are printed on the dial in red and the GMT-hour hand is short and also pained red.
Positioned at 3 o’clock, you also have a date window. The watch has a water resistance of 30m/100 feet and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal on top.
This is a watch with a simple and elegant design that doesn’t stand out, making it extremely versatile and suitable for both formal and casual occasions.
- Water resistance: 30m/100 feet
- Diameter: 44mm
- Crystal: scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
- Movement: self-winding automatic
Frederique Constant Yacht Timer GMT Automatic FC-350VT4H4
The Frederique Constant Yacht Timer GMT FC-350VT4H4 is a very elegant and classy timepiece that has a gold-tone 42mm case. This is designed as a dress watch and looks extremely classy.
It is powered by the C-350 automatic GMT caliber with a power reserve of 38 hours, 26 jewels, and a frequency of 28800 BPH. On top of the case sits a convex sapphire crystal. Another nice feature of this watch is that it has a convex sapphire crystal which allows you to see the beautiful automatic movement inside.
The watch is water-resistant to 10ATM/100M/330 feet, but it is certainly the dial that is the highlight of this watch.
The watch features a beautiful silver color dial with guilloché decoration and applied rose gold-plated luminous indexes. For convenience, it has a date display at 3 o’clock. The watch has hand-polished rose gold-plated hour & minute hands with luminous treatment. The GMT hour hand has a red arrow tip, which points to the 24-hour markers which are printed on the dial.
This is the ultimate GMT watch for formal occasions with beautiful attention to detail and a lovely dial that you’ll never get bored of.
- Diameter: 42mm
- Movement: in-house automatic caliber C-350
- Power reserve: 38 hours
- Crystal: convex sapphire crystal
- Water resistance: 10 ATM/100M/330 feet
- Jewels: 26
Seiko Kinetic GMT SUN031 P1
The Seiko Kinetic GMT SUN031 is a versatile timepiece that combines sportiness with elegance. It is a semi-automatic watch in the sense that it is quartz-driven, but features a kinetic rotor that converts mechanical energy into electricity for the battery, thus eliminating the need for replacing the battery.
It features a 44mm stainless steel case with a water resistance of 100m/330 feet. The watch has a beautiful purple-ish dial with a lovely striped finish. The GMT hand has a red tip and the 24-hour markers are printed on the dial. It has applied metal hour markers which improve the impression of quality, and last but not least, it has a date window positioned at 3 o’clock. On top of the case sits a Hardlex crystal.
All in all, this is a great versatile timepiece that works perfectly for everyday wear and on both formal and casual occasions.
- Diameter: 44mm
- Water resistance: 100m/330 feet
- Crystal: Hardlex
Luminox Bear Grylls Air Series GMT XB.3761
The Luminox Bear Grylls Air Series GMT XB.3761 is an affordable GMT watch that is, as the name suggests, built to last and handle the toughest situations.
The watch has a 45mm stainless steel case and a multi-functional design. The thickness is 13mm. The watch has a Carbonox bi-directional rotating bezel with cities printed on the bezel which allows you to keep track of the time in a number of major cities around the world for an even more advanced GMT function.
Since this watch is all about functionality, it is designed to provide a constant glow for up to 25 years in any light condition. It is powered by an individually tested Ronda 515 movement with a battery life of 50 months. Between 4 and 5 o’clock, it also has a date window presented on the dial.
On top of the case sits a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating.
All in all, this is an affordable GMT timepiece that is built to handle the harshest conditions, making it perfect for outdoor activities.
- Water resistance: 20ATM/200M/660 feet
- Diameter: 45mm
- Movement: Ronda quartz 515 HF caliber
- Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating
- Thickness: 13mm
Longines Heritage Military GMT Automatic
Last but not least, we have the Longines Heritage GMT. With a price of around 2000 USD, it can be debated whether or not it is affordable, but in comparison to many other GMT watches out there, it still deserves a spot on this list.
As the name suggests, this is a vintage-inspired military-inspired timepiece, and this is very evidently seen in its design. The watch has a classic case design which reminds a lot about a pocket watch. This is further contributed by its pocket-watch-inspired crown. The case measures 42mm in diameter.-
Because of its pocket watch case design, it leaves lots of room for a large dial which provides great legibility. The dial is matte black and has large Arabic numerals printed on it. It has a date window positioned at 3 o’clock.
The 24-hour markers are printed at the very outer part of the dial and the GMT hand is long with a small arrow tip, painted in red.
It is powered by the self-winding Longines caliber L704.2 with a power reserve of 48 hours, 24 jewels, and a frequency of 28800 BPH. On top of the case, it has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and the watch has a water resistance of 30m/100 feet.
All in all, this is a classic and stylish timepiece with great quality and attention to detail. Despite its relatively high price tag compared to some others, we would even dare to say that it offers great value for money.
- Diameter: 42mm
- Jewels: 24
- Power reserve: 48 hours
- Water resistance: 30m/100 feet
- Frequency: 28800 BPH
- Movement: Longines Automatic caliber L704.2
Affordable GMT watches buyer’s guide
Just like when buying any type of watch, there are a number of things you want to take into consideration to make sure you find the watch that is perfect for your needs, style, and preferences.
Movement – quartz or mechanical?
The first thing you want to consider is whether you want a quartz or mechanical watch. GMT watches exist with either, so ultimately, it comes down to your preference. In general, most quartz watches are affordable, and most luxury GMT watches are automatic, so this is also something that comes into play. At the same time, there are some affordable alternatives for automatic GMT watches such as the Longines we looked at above, so you’re not limited to quartz when you are looking for an affordable GMT.
Purpose and style
The purpose and style of the watch will depend on your own personal needs and taste. It will also depend on how and when you intend to use it. GMT watches are available in all kinds of different styles, although the GMT function is closely associated with “tool watches”. Therefore consider if you are looking for an elegant timepiece to wear in the office and during formal occasions, or if you plan to wear it during your everyday life and want something more sporty and casual that you can wear at any time. The purpose of the watch will naturally dictate the style of the watch, and there really is a lot to choose from, so defining these things will narrow down the alternatives and make it easier to choose one that suits your taste the best.
Depending on the purpose of your watch, the water resistance may or may not be important. If you will wear your watch on formal occasions with a suit, you’ll likely not come anywhere near the water. But if you are going to wear it as a sports watch and even plan to go swimming with it, having decent water resistance can be quite important to make sure you don’t have to take off your watch or avoid swimming just because you don’t have a suitable watch.
How much does a GMT watch cost?
The fact of the matter is that GMT watches vary a lot in price – just like most watches. The good news is that the GMT function is not only reserved for luxury and super-expensive timepieces but can be found in the more affordable price range. We can, however, say that since the GMT function is a bit complicated, GMT watches tend to cost more than watches that do not have this function. But as you have seen above, there are some really great affordable alternatives for GMT watches.
On the contrary, there are also plenty of luxury GMT watches on the market that cost tens of thousands of dollars, so there is a great gap here, and a wide selection for all kinds of budgets.
Is a GMT watch useful?
A GMT watch can definitely be extremely useful. Unlike many other functions in watches, the GMT function is certainly one that can be truly useful and one that a lot of people actually use in their everyday life.
Naturally, it is particularly suitable for frequent travelers who travel across different time zones. And keeping track of what the time is, for example, local time, but also the home time is something that can be very practical for many reasons.
What is a true GMT watch?
Due to the increased complication and technicality of making one, it’s more uncommon to see this function in the most affordable GMT options, but there is a selection of true GMT watches on the market that you can choose from if this is an important feature for you.
Rolex released the first true GMT watch in 1983 with the GMT-Master II (previously named GMT-Master) to highlight the new true GMT function. This watch would allow you to independently adjust the hour hand without stopping the seconds hand or disturbing the other hands. And at the time, it was a huge improvement to the GMT function and a great achievement for Rolex.
With that said, the first GMT watches were not what we call “true GMT” watches today which is quite interesting as you would think that the original is what is always considered the “true” version, but that’s a topic for a completely different article.
In addition to the true GMT function, you also have watches where the GMT hand is independently adjusted, instead of having an independently adjustable hour hand. This is very convenient when you want to track a second timezone whilst you are at home, but it is less convenient when you are traveling.
But at the end of the day, the difference in the time it takes to set a GMT watch compared to a true GMT watch is not huge, so it’s not really a problem.
Are GMT watches dress watches?
Interestingly, this is a question we receive quite frequently, but the answer to that question is that the style of a watch (for the most part) is not dictated by one single function. For example, just because a watch has a sub-second on the dial doesn’t mean it is a dress watch. In the same way, just because a watch has a GMT function doesn’t mean it is a sports watch.
Ultimately, the answer to that question is that it depends. As you have seen, GMT watches come in all kinds of different styles and designs, so a GMT watch can definitely be a dress watch. GMT watches are not dress watches by definition, but they certainly can be. At the same time, the GMT function is closely associated with tool watches and functionality, which is why a lot of GMT watches lean more towards the sporty side in terms of design.
2 thoughts on “Top 11 Best Affordable GMT watches [List & Guide]”
Nice article, but one quibble: the Rolex GMT-Master may be the most famous GMT timepiece, but I don’t believe it was the first. I believe that the Glycine Airman, released in 1953, beat the Rolex to market as the GMT-Master wasn’t released until the following year.
Yes, you’re absolutely right.
There has been a lot of debate and discussion about this and whilst Rolex wasn’t first, it became the first truly successful GMT watch in terms of popularity and widespread use, hence why it is sometimes regarded as the first, even though that technically isn’t the case.