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How To Use A GMT To Track Multiple Time Zones

A GMT watch is a versatile and sophisticated timepiece designed to display multiple time zones simultaneously, making it an invaluable tool for frequent travellers, business professionals and aviation enthusiasts alike. But how do they actually work? There’s more to it than just an extra hand and a coloured bezel. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to use a GMT watch, along with an explanation of the difference between a true GMT and a non-true GMT.

Understanding The GMT

A GMT watch typically features an additional hour hand, often referred to as the GMT hand, which completes a full rotation every 24 hours. This hand points to a 24-hour scale on the bezel or dial, allowing the wearer to track a second time zone. Some GMT watches also include a rotating bezel, which can be used to track a third time zone. The Rolex GMT Master is a great example of this, early examples of which had a bi-colour bezel to indicate AM and PM.

Setting Up Your GMT

Initial Setup:

    Primary Time Zone (Local Time): Set the main hour and minute hands to your local time. This is done using the crown (the knob on the side of the watch). Pull the crown to the time-setting position and adjust the hands to the correct local time.

    GMT Hand (Second Time Zone): Set the GMT hand to the desired second time zone. This is usually done by pulling the crown to a different position (often the first position) and rotating it to move the GMT hand independently of the main hands.

    24-Hour Bezel (if applicable):

      Align the bezel’s 24-hour markers with the GMT hand to track the second time zone. For instance, if you’re tracking the time in London while in New York, you would set the GMT hand to the current time in London and align the bezel accordingly.

      Using the GMT Watch

      Reading the Time:

        The primary hour and minute hands indicate the local time, just like a standard watch.

        The GMT hand points to the 24-hour scale, showing the time in the second time zone. This is particularly useful for understanding whether it is day or night in the second time zone.

        Tracking a Third Time Zone:

          If your watch has a rotating bezel, you can use it to track a third time zone. Rotate the bezel so that the 24-hour marker for the third time zone aligns with the GMT hand. This allows you to quickly read the third time zone by noting the position of the GMT hand against the bezel markers.

          True GMT vs. Non-True GMT

          Understanding the difference between a true GMT and a non-true GMT is crucial for maximizing the functionality of your watch.

          True GMT:

            A true GMT watch allows for independent adjustment of the local hour hand. This means that you can change the local time without affecting the position of the GMT hand. This feature is particularly useful for frequent travelers, as you can quickly set the local time upon arrival in a new time zone without losing track of the home time.

            True GMT watches are often found in higher-end models and are favored by pilots and globetrotters who need seamless adjustments between time zones.

            Non-True GMT (Office GMT):

              In a non-true GMT watch, the GMT hand is adjusted independently, while the local hour hand is linked to the main timekeeping mechanism. This means that when you change the local time, the GMT hand remains fixed, requiring manual adjustment to align with the correct second time zone.

              Non-true GMT watches are typically more affordable and are suitable for individuals who do not need to frequently adjust their local time zone. They are often referred to as “office GMT” watches because they are practical for those who need to track a second time zone without frequent travel.

              Practical Tips for Using a GMT Watch

              Business Travel:

                Use the GMT function to keep track of your home office time, ensuring you can schedule meetings and calls appropriately, regardless of your current location.

                Vacation Planning:

                  Track the time zone of your vacation destination to help coordinate travel plans and avoid jet lag by adjusting your schedule gradually.

                  Communicating with Family and Friends:

                    Keep track of the time in the locations of your loved ones to avoid calling or messaging them at inconvenient times.

                    Pilots and Aviation Enthusiasts:

                      Use the GMT function to track Zulu time (UTC), which is the standard time reference used in aviation. This ensures that flight plans and schedules are accurately maintained.

                      A GMT watch is more than just a stylish accessory; it is a practical tool for managing multiple time zones effortlessly. Whether you opt for a true GMT or a non-true GMT, understanding how to set and read your watch will enhance its functionality and make your global interactions smoother and more efficient. Whether you’re a frequent traveler, a business professional, or an aviation enthusiast, a GMT offers the perfect blend of elegance and practicality to keep you on time, no matter where you are in the world.


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