May 26, 2019
by Kenny Yeo
GMT watches are also often sport watches, which makes perfect sense if you think about it. If GMT watches are designed to be great travel companions, then it’s logical to also ensure that they are robust enough to take whatever comes their way on the road. Hence, the most popular and iconic GMT watches — think Rolex GMT-Master and Tudor Black Bay GMT — are also sport watches. But what if you are the kind of person who only travels in comfort and avoids any form of exertion? Is there a GMT watch that fits that type of traveler? Well, I’m glad to say that there is now, and it is the new Blancpain Villeret GMT Date.
Model: Villeret GMT Date
Dimensions: 40mm diameter, 10.28mm-thick
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Case Material: Red gold and stainless steel
Movement: Caliber 5A50
Power Reserve: 72 hours
Strap/Bracelet: Leather strap or matching Mille Mailles bracelet
Price: Red gold from $21,600; stainless steel from $12,000
There’s a dearth of dressy and elegant GMT watches, especially in stainless steel. There are the odd few, like the Nomos Tangomat GMT (then again, most Nomos watches are dressy), the Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite (technically a dual-timer), and Blancpain’s own Villeret Quantieme Complet GMT (perhaps the only one on this short list that really qualifies as an elegant GMT) but, by and large, the majority of the most popular and iconic GMT watches are also sport watches. Thankfully, we now have a new Blancpain to fill the void.
The new Villeret GMT Date comes two versions: red gold and stainless steel. The two are identical, save for the color of the dials and their hands. The red -old Villeret GMT Date has an opaline dial and matching red-gold hands, while the stainless steel version has a white dial and stainless steel hands. Both come with either leather strap or a matching beads-of-rice-style Mille Mailles bracelet — which translates to “a thousand links.”
The case is 40mm-wide and just 10.28mm-thick. The bezel looks fairly slim, which could make the dial look larger than it really is. My only gripe about the case is its fairly low water-resistance rating of just 30 meters. (For a traveling watch, I would prefer it to be at least 50 meters.) You just never know when you might get wet, even if you are the kind that only travels in business class and stays in five-star establishments.
The dial is simple and effective. There’s a raised chapter ring with applied Roman numeral hour indices. And within this chapter ring is a 24-hour scale for your GMT complication. As for hands, you have two leaf-shaped hands for the hours and minutes, a long seconds hand with a JB counterweight (JB refers to Blancpain founder Jehan-Jacques Blancpain), and a fourth GMT hand with a red arrow tip. Finally, you have the date at 3 o’clock. All fairly standard stuff for a GMT watch, but the execution here is top notch.
Inside beats the self-winding Caliber 5A50, a GMT movement that has seen action in other Blancpain GMT watches like the now discontinued Fifty Fathoms GMT. It has a very decent 72 hours of power reserve and beats at 3Hz. It might not be chronometer certified, but interestingly, it is adjusted in six positions and not the usual five that you see in most luxury watches.
As they say, variety is the spice of life, and Blancpain’s new Villeret GMT Date watches certainly add some much needed zest and elegance to the largely sporty world of GMT timepieces. Apart from the low level of water resistance, there’s not much else that I can fault about this watch. If its elegant aesthetic appeals to you, this is one that is worth looking out for. The Blancpain Villeret GMT Date is priced at $21,600 in red gold with a leather strap and $40,800 in red gold with a matching Mille Mailles bracelet. The Blancpain Villeret GMT Date is $12,000 in stainless steel with a leather strap and $14,300 in stainless steel with a matching Mille Mailles bracelet. For more information, visit blancpain.com.