Your Bag

Nothing in cart

How to Use a GMT Watch: Quick and Easy Guide for Travelers
Shop Highlights

How to Use a GMT Watch: Quick and Easy Guide for Travelers

Help you indicate different time zones with ease during travel
Jan 14, 2024

GMT watches have become a staple for many watch enthusiasts, allowing them to track different time zones in one device. Knowing how to use GMT watches would offer so much ease, especially to those whose lives span across geographical borders or whose professions demand seamless coordination across various global locations.

Developed initially for aviators navigating multiple time zones, this timepiece has transcended its original purpose, becoming a beloved companion for travelers, professionals, and watch enthusiasts alike. A timepiece with a GMT function stands as a testament to precision and functionality.


Mastering the art of a GMT watch opens a gateway to seamless timekeeping across the globe. This guide will help you learn how to set GMT hand along with some watch recommendations that might interest you for your next purchase.

How to Use a GMT Watch

At its core, a GMT watch features an additional hand on the dial, often in the form of a smaller arrow or triangle. This hand points to a 24-hour scale around the watch's face, corresponding to a second time zone. 

While the standard hour and minute hands display the local time, the GMT hand allows you to track another time zone's hour. Follow the steps below for a tutorial on how to set a GMT hand.

1. Setting the Local Time

Start by setting the local time using the watch's primary hour and minute hands. Pull the crown out to the first or second position (varies by watch model) and rotate it clockwise or counterclockwise to adjust the hands to the correct time.

2. Setting the GMT Hand

The GMT hand, often referred to as the 24-hour hand, moves independently from the primary hour hand. Use the watch's additional crown position to adjust the GMT hand to the desired second time zone. Typically, one full rotation of the 24-hour scale corresponds to a complete day.

For example, the GMT hand points to the hour in the second time zone. If the local time is 10:00 AM and the GMT hand is pointing at 6, it indicates 6:00 AM in the second time zone. You can also calculate the time difference between the two time zones. This example indicates a 4-hour difference between the local time and the second time zone. 

3. Understanding Bezel Functions (if applicable)

Some GMT watches feature a rotatable bezel with 24-hour markings that can be adjusted to serve as a third time zone reference. Align the bezel's markings with the GMT hand to track a different time zone. This feature can be beneficial for frequent travelers juggling multiple time zones.

Keep in mind that GMT watches require occasional adjustments, especially when traveling across time zones. While setting the GMT hand could be quite confusing for a first-timer, some GMT watches come with manuals or reference guides specific to their functions. 

Familiarize yourself with the available resources to fully grasp your watch's capabilities. Try to experiment with setting different time zones and familiarize yourself with the watch's functions to enhance your comfort and proficiency.

Read also: Travel at Ease with These Reliable World Time Watches

How GMT Watches Work

GMT watches are designed to track multiple time zones simultaneously, offering a practical solution for those navigating across different regions. Similar to regular watches, GMT watches show the local time through the standard hour and minute hands. This is typically set to the wearer's current location.

The distinguishing feature of a GMT watch is an extra hand, often a small arrow or triangle, pointing to a 24-hour scale on the watch face. This hand represents a second time zone and moves independently of the regular hands. Users can adjust the GMT hand to indicate a different time zone without affecting the primary timekeeping function. This allows for quick and easy tracking of a separate time zone.

Some GMT watches come with a rotating bezel marked with 24-hour increments. Aligning the bezel with the GMT hand allows for tracking a third time zone, enhancing the watch's versatility. Understanding the time difference between the primary and secondary time zones helps users calculate the current time in the second zone by referencing the position of the GMT hand.

Gnomon’s Top Picks: GMT Watches for a Reliable Companion

As you start to ponder about getting a GMT watch, explore our curated selection of GMT watches that embody the essence of reliability, functionality, and elegance. Let’s dive in!

Steinhart Ocean One Titanium 500 GMT Premium

Steinhart Ocean One Titanium 500 GMT Premium

Movement

SW330-2, élaboré

Dimension

42mm in diameter, 49mm lug to lug, 13mm thick, and 140 grams.

Water resistance

500m


The first GMT watch to look forward to is the Steinhart Ocean One Titanium 500 GMT Premium. Crafted from high-grade titanium, its durability is matched only by its lightweight feel on the wrist. 

The GMT complication effortlessly tracks multiple time zones, ideal for globetrotters and professionals navigating different regions. Its premium build, coupled with an impressive water resistance of 500 meters, ensures reliability in any adventure. 

Price: $730.00 USD

Citizen Series 8 880 Mechanical GMT Blue/Red Ref. NB6030-59L

Citizen Series 8 880 Mechanical GMT Blue/Red Ref. NB6030-59L

Movement

Caliber 9054

Dimension

41mm in diameter, 49mm lug to lug, 13.5mm thick.

Water resistance

100m


The appealing Pepsi bezel on a timepiece has been one of the most popular designs, including in GMT watches. The Citizen Series 8 880 Mechanical GMT Blue/Red is among the watches that flaunt this design. 

As a GMT watch, the Pepsi bezel serves as a day/night indicator for the second time zone. Seamlessly integrated into the sleek design, the GMT functionality offers convenience and precision, catering to globetrotters and professionals navigating multiple time zones. 

Price: $1,350.00 USD

Read also: Reviewing The Citizen Super Titanium Watches

Le Jour Hammerhead GMT Black Ref. LJ-HH-GMT-001

Le Jour Hammerhead GMT Black Ref. LJ-HH-GMT-001

Movement

SELLITA SW330 Swiss Automatic Movement

Dimension

42mm in diameter, 48mm lug to lug, 14mm thick.

Water resistance

200m


The Le Jour Hammerhead GMT Black impresses with its GMT complication, offering a practical and stylish solution for tracking multiple time zones. This timepiece boasts a distinctive 24-hour hand effortlessly navigating a second time zone on the sleek black dial. 

The GMT function is intuitive to use, allowing seamless adjustments for frequent travelers or global professionals.  Its precision and clarity in presenting the additional time zone make it a reliable companion for those navigating diverse timekeeping needs.

Price: $980.00 USD

Mido Ocean Star GMT Black Ref. M026.629.11.051.01

Mido Ocean Star GMT Black Ref. M026.629.11.051.01

Movement

Automatic Mido Caliber 80 (base ETA C07.661)

Dimension

44mm in diameter, 13.28mm thick

Water resistance

200m


Last but not least option for the best GMT watch is the Mido Ocean Star GMT Black. With its additional 24-hour hand and rotating bezel, tracking multiple time zones becomes effortless. The distinctive GMT hand, thoughtfully designed for easy recognition, complements the watch's overall elegance. 

Aligning the bezel with the primary hour hand provides a seamless display of a third time zone, catering to the needs of global travelers and professionals. Mido's attention to detail in integrating this GMT function within the Ocean Star collection enhances the watch's versatility.

Price: $1,125.00 USD

Final Thought

Now that you know how to use a GMT watch, embrace the newfound freedom to effortlessly traverse time zones with a reliable companion on your wrist. Mastering its intricacies takes time and practice, but once you're fluent in its operation, the convenience it offers becomes invaluable. 

Whether it's for practicality, style, or the sheer joy of horological mastery, the GMT watch stands tall as a timeless companion in a world that's always on the move.

Read also: Best Automatic GMT Watches for Venturous Globetrotters

You may like this

Related Articles

Compare watches
Comparison Chart

No watches in comparison chart

Artboard 1
Artboard 1
Maker

Movement

Case

Lug width

Water resistance

Dimensions

Maker
Movement
Case
Lug Width
Water resistance
Dimensions