Your suitcase is packed, your passport is tucked into your breast pocket, and you're running through your itinerary, ready to go – there's only one last detail to consider: Which watch are you going to travel with?
I recently learned that the world's first scheduled commercial international passenger airline service was called "Chalks," in the form of an Airboat flying between Florida and the Bahamas. That was back in 1917, can you believe it?
By the 1950's travel watches had become indispensable for dealing with those inconvenient time zone hassles. I never fly without one.
The perfect travel watch should be versatile enough to wear in both formal and casual settings, so you don't need to pack an extra watch, and most importantly, of course, it has to have a GMT complication – allowing you to conveniently keep track of more than one time zone.
There are plenty of fine GMT watches out there that might make a good choice, but as a frequent traveler, and a lover of fine watches, as far as I'm concerned the list has to be narrowed down to these four ultimate travel watches:
Rolex GMT Master II, 2018
First on the list has to be the original traveler's watch, the Rolex GMT, which first appeared on the wrists of Pan Am jetliner pilots in 1954. At that time trans-continental flights were becoming an everyday thing, and pilots (and frequent travelers alike) found themselves in need of a watch that could keep time in different time zones.
Enter the GMT Master, which eventually became one of the most well-known watches in the world, and has remained popular with discerning jet-setters for decades.
This year's Baselworld Fair, the prestige event for horology, delivered on all fronts for fans of the Rolex GMT. At the event the 'Big Crown' released a brand new GMT Master II with the iconic 'Pepsi' bezel style (made with Cerachrom these days, which is far more durable than the original material). The case is in stainless steel, with an updated in-house movement – and you'll have to go a long way to find a better GMT complication.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Traveltime 5164
While most people think of the Nautilus when it comes to the always understated and elegant Patek Philippe, there is something to be said about the Aquanaut – one of the most exclusive traveler's watches out there.
While subtly maintaining the "porthole" look of the Nautilus, the Aquanaut case is rounded, and the dial features a dual time zone indicating 'local' and 'home' time with day and night apertures —white for the day and dark blue for the night— at 3 and 9 o'clock, and a second time zone hand for the 'local' travel time.
The brushed finish on the bezel, together with the black embossed dial and gold hour markers provide an elegant sense of style, as with everything Patek Philippe does. The strap is made from a special composite material, and it wears very comfortably on the wrist.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT
The original Seamaster from 1948 looked more like a dress watch than a dive watch. After 1957 we started to see the recognizable Seamaster design, and the Planet Ocean series stays true to what we've come to expect from Omega.
The Planet Ocean is equipped with Omega’s in-house calibre 8605 movement, and of course, the GMT time zone function. The color tones chosen for the design of this range are inspired by the palette of the ocean, and it is available with a classic stainless steel bracelet or a sporty blue rubber strap – and they're interchangeable.
What's eye-catching about this Seamaster is the curved crystal and reflective elements on the dial. It provides a nice touch of class to the overall Seamaster 'diver's watch' design ethos.
As an added touch, Omega is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this watch to funding projects to preserve the mangroves and seagrasses in Southeast Asia, and to educating the local population about conserving these important natural resources.
The New Tudor GMT
Fans of Tudor’s famous Black Bay divers’ watch were happy to see the new release from Tudor featuring a GMT function that keeps track of local time without losing sight of the time in two other time zones.
If you've ever made the mistake of making a quick call home while abroad in another timezone, only to discover that it's the middle of the night over there, this function might be just what you need!
Fitted with the Manufacture Calibre MT5652, the watch features a distinctive burgundy and blue bezel. The overall design is inspired by the brand’s 1950s models, continuing with the trend of celebrating all things vintage and authentic. The luminescent hour markers and signature ‘snowflake’ hands provide good legibility even in dim light, and it's a nice design touch. As always, Tudor provides a lot of watch for the price.