GMT Shootout!

Non-categorized watch related discussion
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 1149
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:00 pm

GMT Shootout!

Post by conjurer » Wed May 01, 2024 3:26 pm

GMT watches are hotter than they've ever been; with relatively affordable movements on the market and the seemingly insane demand for them, it seems as though every manufacturer is offering some sort of watch that can track two (or more) time zones.

I myself have always been a fan-boi for GMTs. I like the complication, and the idea of measuring time in different parts of the world. Even though I rarely travel these days (I haven't been on an airplane since the pandemic), sometimes, the geek that I am, I'll set the GMT hand for somewhere in the world where big events are happening.

Anyway, overburdened with GMT watches, I thought, which of three of mine would be the best travel watch? Call it a thought experiment. I gathered three GMTs, two very new to me and one a few years old, and decided to offer some thumbnail impressions and, perhaps, which would be best strapped to the wrist of a real traveler. Shall we begin? I think that we will!

Sinn 105 UTC, $2250


I've owned this one for at least three years; it's the first Sinn I bought. The first thing that comes to mind when looking at it is the sheer Teutonic brutalist simplicity of it. Totally bead-blasted in Kraut submarine steel (except the bezel, which is tegimented and DLC-coated), the only thing shiny on this watch is the rhodium-plated Sellita SW-330 movement. The text on the dial is limited to five words. The hands and markers are about as simple as they can be. The colorwheys are limited to the fat GMT hand and the name of the watch. While so simple it makes the Bauhaus look rococo, is makes the dial superbly legible. There's no hunting to find the time in any lighting conditions, and the blue lume glows well, although it doesn't survive the night unless charged right before bedtime.

It comes on the very good Sinn H-link bracelet that also conveys undestruckability, as the Watch Commander might say. Although the case and the bracelet lack tegimenting (if that's a word, and I don't think that it is), which is Sinn's steel-hardening voodoo shit, and although I've worn it quite a lot over the last few years, there are only a few dings and scratches, mainly on the clasp. The bezel shows no wear at all. The clasp is the weakest point here, being a standard stamped deal--although word has it that Sinn's bringing out an upgraded clasp soon.

Seiko Prospex SPB381, $1500


Seiko's full official name for this one is Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver's Modern Reinterpretation GMT. which is rather a mouthful. I'll call it the Marinemaster Reduced, because that's what it is. And thankfully reduced, at that. The original MM, with its intifada against door jambs worldwide due to its nearly unwearable height off the wrist, was obviously much larger, although it was something of a miracle of a diver's watch. Realizing that an automatic (or manual) helium release value was yet another point of ingress for water, Seiko simply designed a watch so tight it wouldn't allow helium in in the first place. The MM reduced is smaller, sure, and only (!) 200 meters watertight, it also has a standard caseback, unlike the MM's one-piece case construction.

At 42mm, it's the biggest of the three GMTs here, and it's also more of a diver's watch with GMT added. It has a standard, fully indexed diver's bezel, instead of a 24 hour deal, and has the 24 hour index printed on the rehaut, with the GMT hand in gold. Against the pretty green background, the GMT hand recedes a bit into the background, making this one the hardest watch to read the alternate time. And, Seiko makes a bold jump into the 2020s with a ceramic bezel, also green, that, like most of their midrange divers, is a joy to use. Everything lines up perfectly, too.

Inside is the new Seiko manufacture 6R54, which boosts a 3 day power reserve and, although I haven't actually timed it as I have a real life to live, it lasts a long fucking time off the wrist. The bracelet and clasp are the standard Seiko fare, somewhat jangily and cheap but still more comfortable than it has any right to be. The finishing on the case is as good as any Seiko I've owned, and comes pretty close to GS stuff I've inspected. It's also slathered with Seiko's super-hard coating, which is a plus.

Monta Skyquest, $2450


Monta's a microbrand--although I'm sure they'd rather be called a boutique brand--in St. Louis, USA, that has their watches made in Switzerland. The Skyquest is their GMT, which, like the Sinn, uses an SW-330 (although it's a newer model, supposedly with a longer power reserve.) It's the most expensive of the three, and, since my inner shitheel made me order the opaline dial, it's the least legible in low light conditions (the Skyquest is also offered with black dial, which isn't as pretty but I'm sure easier to read.

Like the Seiko, the finishing on the case is superb, the lines between brushed and polished razorlike and clean. Monta takes a gigantic jump to the 1950s, opting for an aluminum bezel, which gives the Skyquest a retro throwback look, like a Rollie GMT Pan AM. It's also a good size, about the same as the Sinn, right about 41mm. The Monta bracelet has plenty of internet reviewers jacking off over it's comfort, and it's not bad at all. The glidelock on the clasp is neat and works really well.

Of the three, the Monta's the least serious. It's a pretty boy hanging out in a biker's bar. But it's quite nice, and although not the grand slam that the Monta Triumph is, it's very good indeed.

The Bad Stuff

Two of the three watches here arrived with significant issues. The Seiko came in with the bracelet, in mummy wrap, with a link pin missing, meaning the bracelet wasn't connected together (I wish I had taken a picture of it, but didn't.) Since I had to size it anyway, I used a link pin to fix it. The Monta came in with a misaligned GMT hand, and I got a picture of that:


Where you can see the GMT hand was about twenty or thirty minutes off. Since I'm not a watchmaker, I had to send the Skyquest back to Monta for a fix, which they handled, professionally and quickly.

Now, mistakes can be made, and things happen. However, when spending over four figures on a watch, I expect better; all of these watches I bought, brand new and full boat retail, from either the manufacturer direct (Monta) or from ADs (Arizona Fine Time for the Seiko, Watchbuys for the Sinn.) Neither the Monta nor the Seiko should have shipped with these issues.

The Sinn UTC shipped to me with no issues or problems whatsoever.

The Good Stuff

All three watches are really fine. You're getting your money's worth on all of them.

In terms of accuracy, the Seiko and the Monta both run about 4 seconds slow a day (the Monta, irritatingly, ran within a second a day before I had to send it in.) The Sinn is the most accurate, at about -2 seconds a day. So all of them are pretty fucking accurate.

All three watches are comfortable to wear and look good on my 6.75 inch wrist. All three got the bracelet right--you spend some time and money to engineer them well, it pays off for the customer.

OK, So Which One Would You Travel With, FFS?

None of these watches are what are termed "traveler's GMTs", since their GMT hands are set via the crown, and do not have the jumping hour hand, like my Rolex Explorer EYE EYE or Tudor BB GMT. Instead, they are "caller GMTs." Now, if I was flying all over the world like a diplomat or business tycoon, I'd want a traveler GMT. Since I don't, and wear a great deal of watches, I prefer caller GMTs. particularly when having to reset the date. Anyway, I find the differences between traveler and caller GMTs tiresome and stupid.

Having pissed and moaned about that, how do they stack up?

The Monta is, weirdly, a little too pretty and too Rolex-like to take to some non-first world country. I can well imagine some kat-munching mook taking a machete to my arm, thinking he scored a GMT-Master of a fucking Yankee. Also, with it's non-treated stainless steel, I can see the Skyquest not aging particularly well in the field.

The Seiko, though, looks like a Seiko, so apart from being very pretty, I think it wouldn't draw a lot of attention. Also, being the only true diver's watch here, if you're going to a place with a lot of water and swimming and shit, it would be the obvious choice.

I would pick the Sinn. It'll take a lot of knocking around, and it is as self-effacing as a Japanese salaryman. The only people who know what a Sinn is are WISs, so you might actually get into a fairly good conversation over it. At least until they whack off your arm with a machete.
Post Reply