November 10, 2022
Although Raymond Weil has a history that dates back to 1976, the Freelancer is arguably the brand’s single most popular collection, despite the fact that it has only existed since 2007. With that in mind, the Freelancer also holds the distinction of being Raymond Weil’s most diverse collection, and it contains everything from simple three-handed dress watches to divers, chronographs, and just about everything else in between. The latest addition to the Freelancer lineup is the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer, which takes the highly versatile case shape of the Freelancer series and turns it into a dual-crown GMT watch with an internal rotating worldtime bezel.
If there is one common feature that is consistent throughout all of the various models that make up the Raymond Weil Freelancer series, it is the shape of their cases, which feature a round profile with long, angular lugs that have prominent facets running the length of their inner edges. Based upon a stainless steel case that measures 40.5mm in diameter by just 9.7mm-thick with an overall lug-to-lug distance of 48.35mm, the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer features the same style of distinct lugs as the rest of the models from the series, and they are set 21mm apart with two different sets of spring-bar holes inside them to offer clearance for a wider variety of straps.
Protecting the dial of the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer is a flat sapphire crystal with anti-glare treatment on both sides, while the reverse side of the watch is fitted with a screw-down display caseback that helps provide users with 100 meters of water resistance. Additionally, one nice but rather unusual feature of the caseback is that rather than having its engravings located on the exterior surrounding the sapphire display window, they are subtly placed on a beveled rim that sits below the surface of the crystal. Not only does this give the caseback the appearance of having a larger opening, but it also protects the serial number engraving from wear and helps guarantee that it won’t fade away or become difficult to read.
At the time of launch, the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer is available in two different metal options and finishes. The model reviewed here is the ref. 2765-SBC-52001, which consists of a brushed stainless steel case fitted with a bronze bezel and a pair of bronze crowns located on the side of its case, while the ref. 2765 BKC-20001 is the other version that is crafted entirely from stainless steel with a black DLC finish (press images included in the gallery at the bottom). The crown at 2 o’clock offers access to the Freelancer GMT Worldtimer’s movement, while the crown at 4 o’clock is used to rotate the internal worldtime bezel. Additionally, both crowns screw down for maximum water resistance, and while the crown at 2 o’clock is signed with Raymond Weil’s logo, the crown at 4 o’clock is marked with a globe insignia to denote its worldtimer functionality.
Unlike a GMT bezel, a worldtime bezel requires you to align the current city name with the hour hand any time that you want to reference other timezones, meaning that you will need to unscrew the secondary crown on the watch whenever you want to use its worldtime feature. Given that the only purpose of this crown is to provide access to the internal rotating bezel, it doesn’t need any actual setting positions, and a non-screw-down crown for the bezel might have ultimately improved its overall ease of use. That said, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who will be happy to see the added security provided by the use of two screw-down crowns, and unless you are someone who frequently needs to use the worldtime bezel, the additional step of unscrewing the secondary crown should not be all that much of an inconvenience.
Given that it is a date-displaying GMT watch that can simultaneously show the time in 24 different cities, the dial of the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer is fairly information-heavy, yet it remains easy to read while still offering a clean and classic design that is neither overly formal nor utilitarian in its overall appearance. Consisting of numerous different concentric circular sections, the center portion of the dial is surrounded by a grooved ring that contains the baton-shaped hour markers and printed minute track. Moving outward from the dial, this section is surrounded by a 24-hour ring, and on the periphery of the display is the internal worldtime bezel with the names of all 24 major cities. Additionally, both the center section of the dial and the 24-hour ring feature a gradient pattern with a dark upper half and a lighter lower half to help provide users with a rough approximation of day and night hours. The black DLC model receives a dial that fades from black to a light taupe color, while the steel and bronze model reviewed here is fitted with a green gradient dial that compliments the natural undertones of the patina that will eventually form on the bronze components of its case.
At the 6 o’clock location resides a rectangular date window that is placed directly within the ring that contains the minute track, and this creates an incredibly non-obtrusive calendar display that perfectly blends into the rest of the dial. Indicating the time of day in two different time zones are four centrally mounted hands, with barrel-shaped hour and minute hands, a thin running seconds hand, and a black 24-hour hand that features a bright red triangular tip. All four of the hands receive an application of Super-LumiNova, and small luminous dots are also placed at the edges of the hour markers for added low-light visibility. Although the style of bezel technically classifies this model as a worldtimer, the independently adjustable hour hands and dedicated 24-hour ring on the dial allow the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer to function as a traditional dual time zone GMT watch, even without the use of its signature worldtime bezel.
Powering the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer is the brand’s Caliber 3230 automatic movement, which is based upon an Elaboré-grade version of the popular Sellita SW330-2. A known quantity within the luxury watch industry and the go-to option for third-party Swiss GMT movements, the Sellita SW330-2 features an independently adjustable 24-hour hand, and it allows users to either advance the position of the 24-hour hand or the value of the date display by rotating the crown in either direction while it is in the second setting position. This same functionality gets carried over to the Raymond Weil Cal. 3230, and since it is based upon the design of the familiar SW330-2, the movement runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz), while offering users a power reserve of approximately 50 hours.
Sitting between the lugs of the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer watches are two-piece calf leather straps that match the dial color of each watch. The strap for the green model reviewed here features a natural grain pattern, while the strap for the black DLC model includes an embossed alligator motif for a more elevated overall aesthetic. The leather strap is soft and supple right out of the box, and it tapers from 21mm at the lugs down to 18mm where it is attached to the clasp. Additionally, it is mounted to the case on curved spring bars that allow its similarly contoured edges to sit closer to the middle case for a more integrated overall appearance. The opposite ends of the strap connect together with a stainless steel folding clasp that features a double push-button release and is signed with the Raymond Weil logo. Although the strap itself is fairly comfortable, I need to have it set on the second smallest hole for my 6.5” wrist, so those with slender wrists should be aware of this if they plan on wearing the watch on its included strap option.
Although I like world-time watches quite a lot, I don’t often wear them in my personal life. Many of the options available are a bit too large for my wrist to be everyday timepieces, and most are either too dressy or tactical for my personal aesthetic preferences. That said, I’ve found myself wearing the new Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer quite a bit while it has been in my possession. The relatively thin case makes the watch easy to wear, and the green and bronze colorway offers a fairly relaxed and casual take on what can often be a rather fancy and in-your-face style of watch. There is still undeniably quite a lot going on with the dial, but most of it is necessary to the model’s functionality, and I was able to use the world-time bezel and GMT hand to figure out the start times for when to watch F1 races without feeling like I was wearing a geography-inspired tribute instrument on my wrist the rest of the time while walking my dog around the neighborhood or going to the grocery store.
In my opinion, worldtimers are a category of timepieces that are often difficult for brands to get right from an aesthetic standpoint. On one hand, the core concept of a worldtimer is inherently more refined than something like a dual-time model or GMT watch. However, the functionality itself is also far more practical than something like a tourbillon or minute repeater, and it almost begs to be put inside a model that is a bit more rugged than a classically styled dress watch. The new Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer does an excellent job of walking the line between refined and casual, where it is more elevated than something like a traditional field watch but still maintains a certain function-forward design ethos. Despite their differences in case materials and finishing, both the black DLC model and the stainless steel and bronze version are accompanied by an official retail price of $2,695 USD, which places them right in between the brand’s divers and chronographs in terms of their price point within Raymond Weil’s catalog. Given that this is also where they rank in terms of both their case and movement complexity, this seems entirely appropriate, and with a versatile design, slim profile, and an ample amount of functionality, the new Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT Worldtimer makes a compelling option for anyone in the market for a modern worldtime watch that can easily integrate into their everyday life. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.