Travelling is a joy in itself, but what really enhances the experience is journeying across continents with a faithful friend in tow. Personally, I’m quite happy for my only companion to be strapped to my wrist. As such, I’ve assembled the 5 best watches to wear while on the road, with each one chosen for their versatility and functionality. As a rule, they all must feature a GMT function, but beyond that anything goes!
Patek Philippe GMT
You can’t go far wrong with the Patek Philippe GMT on a list of best watches for travelling. The name carries serious clout, but that aside it’s the styling that keeps bringing me back to this watch – accurate as hell, and an heirloom to boot.
Clarity and execution top the bill here, and with limited variants occasionally available (check out the special edition model from Scottish retailer Hamilton & Inches for a seriously sexy purple dial) there’re loads of characters to choose from.
Royal Oak Dual Time
A true classic goes a long way in the value stakes. Purchasing a design stalwart from the AP Royal Oak family will pay dividends thanks to its versatility. Chunky enough to work with casual attire, the esteemed provenance of this model’s DNA ensures no one would chide you for wearing it with a suit, even if it is a little on the large side. The Royal Oak Dual Time is a seldom seen combination of class and cool, and a model that is often unfairly overlooked when it comes to best watches for travelling.
NOMOS Glashütte Zürich Weltzeit
It’s time to crack out the umlauts! At times the vast expanse of space utilised on NOMOS dials can cause even the most ardent watch lover to leaf past these excellent timepieces in a multi-brand catalogue, but one model that always arrests attention is the Zürich Weltzeit.
At the top end of the steel collection (around $6,000) it isn’t cheap, but the complexity of the case and the novelty of the complication make it worth every cent. Despite being called ‘World Time’, it’s actually a GMT watch (by virtue of the 24 hour dial obscure five of the time zones at 3 o’clock at all times). That doesn’t bother me in the slightest: When it comes to bang for your buck, this NOMOS offering is teeming with value.
Curveball time: This relatively unknown Swiss maison is one of my secret favourites. I was hooked on their aesthetic with the release of the Hydroscaph the best part of a decade ago. Since then, Clerc have built on their core range by adding thoughtfully designed alternatives to the model that’s become something of a cult classic. Their GMT model is a bit of an odd one in that it employs a precious material for the GMT sub-dial.
For a brand known for their robust, masculine cases, the delicate slither of mother of pearl accentuating the main complication should barely be able to work. It does, and in doing so creates a symphonic harmony of styles that reminds me why the world of watchmaking’s still worth watching closely – a bargain at less than thousand pounds.
Grand Seiko Black Ceramic Spring Drive Chronograph GMT
When it comes to finishing, few brands can hold a torch to Grand Seiko. Now operating independently of the previously encompassing Seiko brand in an attempt to carve out a distinct market niche, Grand Seiko has long been a quiet obsession for lovers of high-tech advancements fused sympathetically with traditional haute horlogerie. The exhaustively named Grand Seiko Black Ceramic Spring Drive Chronograph GMT is a superlative traveller’s watch with the added functionality of a chronograph. This adds a sportier, perhaps more versatile edge to proceedings and presents a slightly different option to the other pieces listed here. Retailing at just under $15,000, it is a tantalising value proposition for the discerning collector that is looking for something somewhat off the beaten track.
There you have it. A list of the best watches for travelling, which also happen to be some of my personal favourites.
About the Author
Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.