The GMT - Greenwich Mean Time. The whys and wherefores of meridian time and why it exists is there to be discovered, but looking through the prism of wrist watches, the GMT watch holds a special place in many people’s hearts.
For a long time we’ve wanted to try our hand at designing a GMT but the realities of our position in this industry meant that, unless we wanted to use a Swiss GMT movement, we were stuck - no other movement manufacturer outside of Switzerland offered a mechanical GMT movement. But in late 2021 we were given advanced insight into a movement that Miyota were developing called the 9075 - a brand new Japanese mechanical GMT movement, and what’s more, it would be a True GMT movement.
When we got wind that Miyota were developing a True GMT movement we were really excited, because for the past few years we’ve been focusing more on the sub-£1,000 price range - we think it’s where our market is, we are good at designing for that market and we’ve sort of become known for offering really good value for money whilst retaining really high quality.
As soon as we received the technical drawing for the Miyota 9075 we set to work on developing as quickly as possible our take on the GMT watch. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve - a slim, well proportioned watch that stood apart from all the other GMT options out there. Our design language has developed significantly over the 8 years we’ve been operating and the GMT signals the step change in what we can achieve, in our case design specifically. The GMT case features a central frame which holds the upper levels of bezel and box-sapphire crystal, whilst underneath it tapers away quickly to the exhibition caseback, making the wrist-presence bold yet strikingly slim.
I knew that we needed to make this GMT watch as high-spec as we could within the strict budgets that we’d set ourselves, and after the Pacific design phase and seeing what box-section sapphire crystals could give to a dial, we knew that the GMT needed to follow suit.
Underneath the bright box-sapphire is a dial design that takes all our learnings so far and peppers them all in there - a base dial with two textures that creates a lovely tension between the chalky outer and sandpaper inner, with tall polished applied indices, frames filled with luminous compound bridging the two textures. On the outer edge of the dial is a chamfered ring holding the all important 24 hour scale. It’s a very open, airy dial with importance placed on the simplicity of time - given that the GMT has quite a bit more information going on, keeping things neat makes all the difference.
We’ve got one extra hand on the dial to integrate, and so with the hand set we again kept things relatively simple. The hands for the GMT are tapered and profiled, catching the light on either side of the central spine so that, regardless of lighting conditions the hands should still be legible. A little easter egg is that, when all the hands align over each other, it represents a contrail extending behind the GMT hand’s aero tip. The GMT hand is integrated into the dial as well, with a colour matched stalk - we’ve tried to balance the want for promoting this additional hand on the dial against the day to day necessity of reading the time quickly and effectively.
Surrounding the bright dial and box sapphire is a bi-directional bezel, marked with additional 24 hours scale, and I’ll show you what this does in a moment. The case back features a design that we’ve used for a few watches now, starting with the first edition Coniston and deployed on the Solent, Sceptre, Coniston Second Edition and now the GMT too - an outer ring chamfers inwards to terminate underneath the spinning rotor of the Miyora 9075 - it’s a visual trick that makes the movement appear like it’s bursting out of the case, sitting way above the level of the painted outer ring and feels almost touchable. Given that the 9075 is the mechanical heart of the GMT, we love that it feels so tactile and is so beautifully presented.
Overall then the GMT represents the next phase in our growth as a design led watch producer, putting intuitive design alongside beautifully executed manufacture to offer the very best watches for the best value. To understand what a True GMT is versus the other type, the Office GMT, we have to first look at what a GMT actually does - what does it mean to us in the literal sense of watches, time telling and functions.
HOW A GMT WORKS
A GMT complication is a simple way for the wearer to track two different time-zones - a “home” time and a “local” time. It achieves this through the addition of a 4th GMT hand which revolves around the dial once every 24 hours. The GMT hand points to a separate reference scale, and can be set independently from the main hour hand.
I mentioned that there are two types of GMT movements - the True GMT like ours, and an Office GMT. The differentiating factor between the True and the Office GMT, is the allocation of what hand - either the main hour hand or the GMT 4th hand - jumps in hourly increments and thus controls your “home” time - the time that you always want to see. This all comes back to the original invention of the True GMT movement for Pan Am pilots who were constantly jumping through time zones and needed a way to keep track of their home time, as well as whatever local time they were landing into.
The True GMT, like ours, allows the main hour hand to jump in hourly increments meaning that you are able to quickly reset the main time telling hands to whatever time zone you are in - if you travel from London to New York, for example, you can quickly adjust the main hour hand 5 hours backwards without affecting anything else on the watch, allowing you to have a dial that tells New York time, whilst also being able to still see “home” time through the position of the GMT hand. The True GMT movement is typically found only on the most expensive movements, because of the tricky nature of manufacturing the mechanism that allows the hour hand to jump in hourly increments.
The Office GMT in comparison, has a GMT hand that jumps in hourly increments - so the main time telling hands remain as so, and it’s this little 4th hand that jumps around for the “local time”. Both are equally as valid and equally as cool - we prefer the True GMT movement because the natural method of telling the time is by using the main hour and minute hands, and with a True GMT movement, this is made really easy and convenient for anyone travelling into different time zones. It does take a moment to set up though, so let’s get into it.
SETTING THE TIME
There is a proper method to set up your GMT watch, allowing everything thereafter to align and remain in sync. To make things a little bit more interesting, alongside the two time-zones on the dial, we’ve added in a 48 click bi-directional bezel that allows you to track a 3rd time zone. Don’t panic, it’ll all become clear in just a second…
The first step is to set up your “home” time - the time that you are travelling from. Pull the crown out to its furthest away position and set the GMT hand to the current hour using the 24 hour scale on the outer dial ring - for example sake let’s say it’s currently 10pm. Once the GMT hand is in position, set the minute hand as well. Once in position this sets your “home” time.
With your “home” time set you can now set up your local hour and the date - the Miyota 9075 features a unique date complication that can be set both forwards and backwards. We must pay particular attention to when the date ticks over, as this signifies midnight and becomes important if you’re setting the time in the afternoon.
So with the crown pushed one step inwards, the main hour hand is made available to be jumped, in hourly increments, to the “local” time. By moving the hour hand around the dial we can see that the date ticks over to the next day when it passes midnight. So if we’re setting the local time in the afternoon, say 3pm, we want to tick the date over to the current day and then continue around the dial once more, to bring the movement past the midday mark. Then we can set the hour hand to 3pm and with that the watch is now set up and ready to use.
Push the crown all the way into the case and voila. The GMT watch is set.
If you then travel to another time zone you can quickly move the main hour hand by pulling the crown gently out to the first position. This engages the jumping mechanism and you can jump in hourly increments to whatever time you like. This is the beauty of the True GMT - the main hands will always tell you the current time wherever you are, and is incredibly convenient.
3RD TIME ZONE
Now, once you have your GMT watch set up, the 48 click bezel can come into effect. So you have your “local” time with the main hour and minute hands and you have your “home” time set with the GMT hand.
Ignoring the main hands and using only the home GMT hand and the two 24hr scales, we can rotate the bezel to allow us to track a 3rd time zone. Depending on whether the 3rd time zone is ahead of your home time, or behind your home time, will depend on which part of the bezel we’ll use to track this 3rd time zone.
Ok, if you want to track the time in a place that is ahead of your current ‘home’ time, say Toyko for instance, we use the 12 o’clock position as our starting point. Tokyo is +9 hours in front of our London “home” time. Simply move the bezel so that number 9 is directly above the 12 o’clock mark. Do this for whatever time you wish that is ahead of your home time - so for Sydney, which is 11 hours ahead of London, we’d move the bezel to 11, and so on.
Once you’ve set the bezel to this figure at the 12 o’clock position, all you need to do is look at where the GMT hand currently points on the bezel, and there we can see that the local time in Tokyo is currently 7am. That’s it - until you move the bezel again this will now track the time in Tokyo.
If you want to track the time in a place that is behind your current “home” time, say New York for instance, then we use the pip as our starting point. New York is 5 hours behind our “home” time in London, and so we turn the bezel pip to the number 5 on the inner scale. If you wanted to track another time that’s behind, just set the bezel pip to that number instead - Seattle is 8 hours behind London, so you’d align the pip to the number 8 on the inner scale.
Once you’ve set the bezel to the time difference in New York, using the GMT hand and the figure on the bezel, we can see that the current time in New York is 5pm.
It does feel complicated at first but soon you’ll get to grips with it - anything ahead is 12, anything behind is pip. It’s a really great way to track another time zone, but more than that the bezel also allows a more traditional use for a moving bezel on a watch - you can still use it to time your eggs, if used in conjunction with the main minute hand. So versatile!
So there we are - our first True GMT watch, available in two colourways - Day and Night - released in a First Edition batch of 500pcs for each colourway.
The GMT marks a sea-change in our attitude towards watch design and how we go about creating unique, high-quality, accessibly priced watches. If you happen to find yourself wearing a new Marloe GMT, then we hope you enjoy it - we’re both so chuffed with how it’s turned out and look forward to your feedback and your photos. Thanks for watching - if you have any questions drop us a message via our website, and until the next one, take care of yourself and others.