This story originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Elite Traveler.
We take a deep dive into the world of travel watches. Whether you need to see all 36 time zones at a glance or simply know what time it is at home, you will find the perfect watch here.
First designed to help pilots keep track of time zones in the early era of commercial flying, GMT watches use a 24-hour hand to track a reference time. Originally, the hand indicated Greenwich Mean Time, the day’s universal reference time, but now it is generally used for home time (despite its name). Rolex’s GMT-Master has set the benchmark since 1955, and its latest GMT-Master II brought back the iconic “Pepsi-colored” bezel from the original model, setting the watch world aflame after its release at Baselworld. Patek Philippe’s Calatrava Pilot Travel Time uses a skeletonized hour hand to indicate a second time zone, but on a 12-hour scale. It has day/night indicators for both local and home time, and a local date hand at 6 o’clock. The secondary hours are easy to change on both watches, thanks to independently adjustable hour hands, so your watch won’t lose accuracy when moving time zones.
Rolex GMT-Master II watch in oystersteel, $9,250, Wempe in New York, +1 212 397 9000, rolex.com
Patek Philippe Ref 5524G Calatrava Pilot Time in 18K white gold, $47,630, Gearys in Beverly Hills, California, +1 310 887 4250, patek.com