The history of GMT multi time zone watches goes back to the dawn of international jet travel in the 1950s. Even though now more than 70 years old, this versatile timepiece is more useful in our modern world of global travel and communications than ever before.
If you are interested in learning more about these fascinating time pieces, please read on!
Mastering Time Zones GMT watches, also recognized as dual/multi-time zone timepieces, have the capacity to exhibit two or more distinct time zones simultaneously. They serve as valuable tools for travellers, pilots, and individuals engaged in global communication. The genesis of GMT watches traces back to the mid-1950s when Pan Am, the prominent US international airline, engaged Rolex to craft a timepiece to address a specific requirement for their international pilots.
GMT Innovation for Pilots
In 1953, Pan Am had a specific need for a watch capable of tracking a second time zone, catering to their international pilots navigating across various time zones worldwide. For these pilots, the secondary time zone was to be set to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), the universal time reference in London used as the basis for all other time zones.
Understanding GMT allowed pilots to swiftly compute time differences in any location by adding or subtracting a specified number of hours. This "GMT" designation has since endured, becoming a hallmark feature in both classic and contemporary multi-time zone timepieces.
Rolex GMT-Master (1955)
Rolex's response to the Pan Am requirement was their GMT-Master pilot watch which was first produced in 1955. An adaptation of their existing sports/dive watch, it had luminous 24 hour markers on a rotatable bezel along with a fourth hand that rotated around the dial every 24 hours. By simply aligning the correct time on the bezel with the fourth hand, it could then continuously track a second time.
It was an instant success with Pan Am and soon after with pilots and travellers everywhere. It however was not without its flaws. The bezel insert was originally made from bakelite which easily scratched or cracked, the water resistance was poor by today's standards (surprising for a Rolex) and the luminous dial and bezel were actually radioactive (yikes!).
The GMT-Master II
Since 1955 there have been multiple iterations and upgrades to the Rolex GMT design and today the latest GMT-Master II is still one of the most popular and functional GMT watches in the market. Though very similar in appearance and design to the original, it's 5 figure entry level price tag now has made it more of an exclusive status focused timepiece rather than the original functional tool watch that Pan Am had envisaged for its pilots.
Since the original Pan Am concept there have been a proliferation of different GMT watches. With most premium brands coming out with very different variations aligned with their traditional designs. However nearly all of them still utilise the original principal of an additional "GMT" hand that rotates around the dial every 24 hours.
The vision of the GMT watch that Pan Am had exclusively for its pilots has since transformed into a huge market, well beyond what they could have ever imagined at the time. The proliferation of international travel and the global communications boom, means millions of people in the world are now regularly travelling to, or communicating with, different regions of the world. Hence the ability to glance at your wrist and instantly see the time in a distant location is something far more useful and relevant than ever before.
PANZERA FLIEGER 45G
The new PANZERA Flieger 45G is a true GMT timepiece with its 24 hour hand and unique easy to read internal time zone bezel. It is also a masterful blend of modern functionality and classic styling reflecting the 1930's aviation heritage of our Flieger pilot watch range. Like all PANZERA watches it is a rugged go anywhere watch with 100M water resistance, sapphire scratch proof glass and a durable NH34A movement.
At a price point that is a fraction of most other automatic GMT models, the FLIEGER 45G is the first GMT watch to bring this wonderful and versatile functionality to within the reach of everyone!
Pre-order your FLIEGER 45G now for 50% OFF and experience the wonder of an automatic GMT timepiece - at an amazing price!