One of the more important recent developments for the watch industry’s affordable side has been the Miyota 9075 movement, which has largely democratized mechanical flier-style GMT functionality. Since the arrival of this caliber, we have seen a wide variety of different GMT watches at increasingly competitive prices, and it is now possible to get your hands on a highly compelling offering for well under a thousand dollars. For 2024, Zelos has created new GMT-equipped versions of its fan-favorite Mako diver that use the Miyota 9075, and the Zelos Mako 300m GMT immediately claims one of the top spots as the most affordable way to get your hands on a mechanical watch with this practical travel-oriented functionality.

Crafted from 316L stainless steel, the case of the Zelos Mako 300m GMT features largely brushed surfaces with high-polished bevels, and it measures 40mm in diameter by 12mm thick, with compact lugs that are set 20mm apart and extend to create an overall lug-to-lug profile of 46mm. Due to the way that the rim of the bezel extends slightly past the edges of the case, the actual footprint of the watch will be closer to 40.5mm, although its fairly short lugs create a very manageable presence on the wrist, and the weight of the watch comes in at approximately 85 grams (without the bracelet). Once you factor in the heavily domed sapphire crystal that sticks up above the rim of the bezel (with anti-reflective treatment on its interior surface), the total height of the watch comes in at 14.7mm, and surrounding the crystal is a 48-click bidirectional bezel, which is fitted with a polished ceramic insert that has a luminous 24-hour scale. 

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I am often somewhat of a stickler when it comes to the motion of GMT bezels, as they should ideally operate bidirectionally, and if they do offer a ratcheting motion, the number of clicks should correspond with the 24-hour scales on their inserts. A unidirectional 24-hour bezel is objectively less practical than one that moves bidirectionally (at least when it comes to referencing additional timezones), and every time that I see a unidirectional 24-hour bezel, I am always left with the impression that the brand simply wanted to use existing components that were originally fabricated for a dive watch. In addition to offering a 48-click bidirectional motion to correspond with timezones that operate on a half-hour offset, the tactile action of the Zelos Mako 300m GMT’s bezel is crisp and well-defined, with ample grip provided by the wide ridges along its outer rim.

While the Zelos Mako 300m GMT doesn’t offer the same hardened surface coating that you will find on some of the brand’s more expensive models, the watch itself feels extremely solid, and I imagine that most people will be more than content with the level of finishing at this price point. Just as its name suggests, water resistance for the Zelos Mako 300m GMT comes in at a healthy 300 meters, and to help support its fairly ample depth rating, a solid screw-down caseback is fitted to the reverse side of the watch, while a signed screw-down crown sits partially recessed into the side of the case at the 4 o’clock location. The caseback of the Mako 300m GMT is adorned with a stylized engraving of a shark (presumably a mako shark), and the tip of the grooved winding crown is decorated by an engraving of the brand’s ‘Z’ logo that is filled with Super-LumiNova.

At the time of writing, Zelos has produced a handful of different versions of the Mako 300m GMT, including a few premium executions fitted with dials made from stone or meteorite. However, the version featured here is the “Cracked Ice” model, which is characterized by its black ceramic bezel, bright orange accents, and a fully luminous white dial. To match the blue-glowing numerals on the bezel, the white surface of the dial is completely covered with BGW9 Super-LumiNova before being coated in a gloss enamel finish, and the entire surface glows blue to reveal its signature “Cracked Ice” motif. The black-finished hands and applied hour markers are also luminous, although they emit a very faint green-colored glow that offers superior contrast against the surface of the dial, regardless of whether you are viewing the watch in bright or dark conditions.

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While Miyota and Seiko both produce affordable and readily available GMT movements, only the offering from Miyota provides “flier-style” functionality with an independently adjustable local hour hand that can be jumped forwards or backward in one-hour increments. Until fairly recently, this type of complication was previously only found inside watches that cost a minimum of several thousand dollars, and in order to offer this popular functionality, the Zelos Mako 300m GMT runs on the Miyota Cal. 9075 automatic movement, which operates at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 42 hours. Although the Miyota 9075 has become somewhat of a known quantity, it still exists as one of the more premium movements in the Japanese manufacturer’s catalog, which makes it all the more impressive that Zelos has managed to include this caliber inside one of its most affordably priced collections.

Fitted to the lugs of the Zelos Mako 300m GMT is a three-link stainless steel bracelet that features brushed surfaces with high-polished bevels running down the sides of the links to complement the finishing on the case. Generally speaking, Zelos’ bracelets are quite good, and despite being fitted to one of the brand’s least expensive models, this one is no exception. Featuring completely solid components, single-sided screws for the removable links, and integrated quick-release springbars at the lugs, the bracelet that comes with the Mako 300m GMT checks all of the major boxes when it comes to the details that most enthusiasts seek these days, and it fastens on the underside surface of the wrist with a machined push-button folding clasp that includes an integrated extension system that offers five positions of incremental adjustment. 

As a whole, the Zelos Mako 300m GMT offers an incredibly compelling package, and while there will always be some small compromises made when trying to achieve a budget-friendly price point, the actual tangible shortcomings of this watch are truly minimal. On the wrist, the Mako 300m GMT wears noticeably smaller and thinner than its on-paper dimensions might otherwise suggest, and details such as the action of the bezel and the proportions of its hands leave very little to be desired. Realistically speaking, the most obvious shortcoming relates to the fit of the end links, and although they are completely solid with very little play between the lugs, the shape of the links doesn’t perfectly match the top profile of the case. All things considered, the Mako 300m GMT is a very well-executed watch, and while Zelos certainly offers more elevated offerings within its various premium collections, what you ultimately sacrifice is relatively minimal given everything else that this watch offers for the price.

I firmly believe that your travel watch shouldn’t be the most expensive timepiece in your collection, as the purpose of travel is to live in the moment and enjoy the experience of being in a new location without worrying about the items you brought. With an official retail price of $629 USD, the Zelos Mako 300m GMT sits firmly on the affordable side of the horology spectrum, and it is easily one of the least expensive ways to get your hands on a watch with this travel-oriented GMT movement. Additionally, while the Mako 300m GMT still delivers a strong sense of quality and provides a highly satisfying ownership experience, there is absolutely nothing about the watch that is so expensive or precious that getting a nasty scratch on its case while on vacation would in any way detract from your experience of the trip. For more information on the Zelos Mako 300m GMT, please visit the brand’s website

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