What is a GMT watch? A quick guide for beginners

A GMT watch is a watch with a second time zone hand. The term GMT Time (GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time).

The key advantage of this type of watch over multi-time zone watches is that you can easily and quickly see what the time is in another part of the world or at home without having to do arithmetic (add/subtract hours).

This greatly simplifies travel plans, meetings etc. It also means that you can display two different times on your wrist at once – useful for people who travel extensively so they can have instant local time at their fingertips when anywhere in the world.

Keep reading this article to learn more about how these watches work!

Why use a GMT watch

The main reason you would use a GMT watch (as opposed to just noting down the time difference in a notebook) is that it instantly gives you the local time anywhere in the world, as well as your home time.

Sometimes also known as global watches these are useful if you live or work abroad, travel extensively and/or need to know what a different part of the world is doing.  

A GMT watch is always set to display either an offset from GMT (e.g., UTC +2 = 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time), or at least one other hour hand for local time so it can be easily switched between home and foreign times – often called ‘dual time’.

  • While this may appear similar to multi-time zone watches, there are several important differences; these differences are as follows:
  • GMT watches show two time zones on one dial
  • Multi-time zone watches usually have a separate analog dial for each additional time zone
  • GMT watches are usually always black, whether or not the bezel is in some sort of colour (e.g., silver/gold)
  • Multi-time zone watches sometimes have different coloured faces and/or bezels to indicate different times zones
  • GMT watches only require setting once – locally – then you just turn the hands to adjust them if necessary; multi-time zone requires resetting both home and host time when changing locations. They also tend to be more expensive!

How does a GMT watch work 

A GMT watch works by adding a 24-hour dial to the standard 12 hour watch. In most cases, the extra hand has an arrowhead which indicates the home time (e.g., London, New York) or destination time zone (e.g., Tokyo, Hong Kong), allowing you to read two times simultaneously on one face.

Analog GMT watches use only one crown to set both hands independently of each other.

Digital GMT watches have adjustment buttons that change both hands simultaneously.

GMT watches are therefore very useful for those who commonly cross different international time zones because it allows them to keep track of two separate time zones at once – no need to reset your host and home times on a regular basis!

Who should wear a GMT Watch 

The GMT watch was originally designed for pilots who needed to adjust their watches depending on the time zone they were flying in. However, this versatile piece has become a staple among those who travel frequently and can be worn casually or dressy.

A GMT watch is an invaluable tool for travelers as it allows them to track two time zones at once!

They are typically more expensive than regular watches because of their functionality, so investing in one can be worthwhile if you’re often traveling abroad or crossing time zones.

How to read a GMT Watch

In general, you want the 24 hour hand (GMT) to be pointing at home time while the main hands are displaying your host country’s time. The exact opposite would work as well since the 24-hour hand can point at any city in the world – it is simply a matter of preference.

Really easy way to tell which cities across the globe are within a single standard time zone; find your own similarly called Standard Time Zone and look at all first letters of major cities inside this time zone on Wikipedia.

For example, we have Eastern Standard Time that falls between UTC −5 and UTC −4 hours and happens to include cities such as Washington DC, New York City, Boston, Atlanta…etc.

Is a GMT watch worth it?

A GMT watch can be used for travel plans, meetings or to keep track of the time in more than one part of the world. In these cases it may not be worth buying a separate watch for each location – especially if you also want to have information about local time on your wrist such as date and day/night indicators.

So you actually have two watches in one, and that to me says it definitely is worth it.

What is a GMT watch – Supporting Video

In this video we see a GMT watch in action, seeing how the GMT watch is set and how to read the dual times. I am super glad the video shows a watch other than a Rolex as you can purchase a GMT watch in almost any brand such as Glycine, Seiko etc there is a GMT watch to suit any budget.


I hope you found What is a GMT Watch informative and useful. If you ever decide to acquire a GMT Watch – good choice, it will certainly be a very pleasant experience for you as well as for the people around you that don’t know one when they see it.

Wearing a GMT watch always gets lots of questions from people who don’t know what a GMT watch is, and now you’re part of the club that actually knows!

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