Alternatives To The Rolex GMT Master II Watch?

Jason K. from Chile asks:

Rolex GMT Alternative? I love the look / functionality of the Rolex GMT but don't really want to buy a Rolex and in particular as I hate the bulbous lens over the date window. Can you provide some alternatives that offer the same functionality (GMT hand, bi-directional bezel w. 24 hour scale), mechanical movement and quality that will last a lifetime?

You have featured some alternatives on the site such as Nivrel, Christopher Ward, Seiko, etc but they don't seem to have the bi-directional bezel.

Thanks for your help.

Max here. I think the Oris Diver GMT (see: http://www.oris.ch/en/watches/oris-divers-gmt-date/01-668-7639-8454-07-4-24-34eb) maybe a great alternative that is on the low price point side. It has bi-directional bezel and GMT hand and good looks. I have seen and handled it in person at an AD, and I must say I was impressed, especially when you consider the price point: ~$2000.00.

Finally, for a little more, I can recommend the Omega Seamaster GMT 300M. I've reviewed it on aBTW last year here. I am wearing it as I write this, so it's needless to say how much I like it as a work beater.

The AquaTerra version that Ariel reviewed recently has in-house movement and is priced higher than the old James Bond Seamaster and certainly gives you a fairer competitor to the Rolex GMT.


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  • Ulysses31

    Oris are a great brand.

  • ocabj

    The person who posed the question should reconsider the GMT-Master II. I bought one as my first Rolex and frankly, it’s a great watch. Excellent size, accuracy, and function. I’m a huge OMEGA fan, and the Planet Ocean GMT just isn’t my cup of tea with regards to styling for an everyday watch. I’d rather get the Aqua-Terra GMT vs the PO GMT, but that doesn’t have a rotating 24 hour bezel.

  • bcostheskyisblue

    The Oris Diver GMT has only a unidirectional bezel and the hour hand does not advance one hour at a time. The Omega diver also has a unidirectional bezel also although the hour  hand does jump one hour at a time.  Blancpain makes good GMT watches.  The Fifty fathoms GMT is a great alternatives if you can get a Concept 2000 series or a Trilogy series with GMT on the second hand market, the advantage of these are that you can dive with them while you shouldn’t really dive with a Rolex GMT Master, its being waterproofed to 100 metres. The Blancpain GMTs also moves the hour hand like the Rolex plus they have a bi-directional bezels.  The modern Omega Planet Ocean GMT has an excellent calibre but it is quite large at 45 mm and blingy. It costs about 2/3 of a GMT master 2.  It all depends on if you want a 40 mm watch or a 45 mm watch.

    None of them however has the historical pedigree that the GMT master has.  The GMT Master was the first watch with a 24 hour time Rolex made for Pan-Am pilots.  It’s quite difficult to get past the GMT master as a versatile, easy to use, three-time-zone capable watch that you can jet set with, and still swim with it on your wrist at your luxury resort all the while telling your hometime at a glance.  I agree with ocabj’s post that you should reconsider the GMT Master 2.

  • ziipppp

    I faced this exact same (admittedly first world) dilemma. First off, the Rolex GMT II is an incredible piece of kit.

    But one of the key things that distinguishes the Rolex, in my mind, is the “traveler’ version of the GMT. That is to say, when you get on a plane, you can just hack and set the hour hand without the GMT hand moving at all. If you travel at all, that is a HUGE advantage over the typical issue of every time you move the hour hand the GMT hand moves, which makes hopping time zones incredibly fiddly.

    If you want this functionality (and if you travel at all, you do) far as I can find out there are three main choices, and then a few exotics beyond.
    1) Rolex, as stated. Awesome, and has the microadjust bracelet too, built tough. But its a Rolex with all that that connotes.

    2) Omega GMT – also pretty great. They’ve taken an ETA movement (well its all Swatch, so they’re allowed to) and reengineered it so that you can move the hour hand independently. But Omega didn’t really do it for me.

    I went for door number 3) which is the Grand Seiko SBGE001. You get a few things that are awesome with this.
    i) its got the hour hand hacking
    ii) its got this spring drive movement, which gives you this seamless sweeping second hand which is just lovely to behold
    iii) its also built like a tank, and had just fantastic fit and finish and detail. Its very business appropriate. The 24 hour bezel is ceramic covered, and shiny and stunning, especially with the lume.
    iv) It wears beautifully, with its relatively short lugs. One demerit: although the bracelet is great it does NOT have the easy micro-adjust of the Rolex – you have to get the strap sized somewhere. But they give you a 2/3 and 1/3 sized lug so you can get a pretty good fit.
    Another pet peeve of mine is that the face is kind of crowded, there’s Seikos name Grand Seikos name, the GS marque, it says Spring Drive, its says GMT, it says its made in Japan – its all a bit much, but I’ve got used to it. Its got a few cool quirks, such as the screw down crown at the 4 o’clock position which I love, and that lines up with the date window also at 4.
    Overall I’m delighted with the watch. The GMT Rolex is great, but I like that I can strap on this Seiko, and no-one pays it much mind – except for the watch WIS – fine by me.

    Something else I looked at was Glasshutte Original used to make a GMT Sport. It looks great, and I love the big date. But its discontinued, and I’d be nervous about buying a watch until I could try it on. You could do something really interesting and go for the Traveltec by Bucherer, but thats the next price point up.

    Good luck, I don’t think you can go wrong, so enjoy!

  • Shane Kleinpeter

    Panerai also have an in house movement in the PAM 000310 (1950 3 days GMT) that has the hours hacking feature. I have an Omega Broad Arrow GMT which has this feature and I wouldn’t want a GMT without it.