One of the most frequent requests from collectors and enthusiasts in recent years has been for an affordable “flier” style GMT watch, and as its latest new release of 2023, Los Angeles-based microbrand Vaer has given the public exactly what it wants. Based upon the recently introduced Miyota Cal. 9075 movement, the new Vaer G5 Meridian GMT is a true “flier” style GMT watch with an independently adjustable local 12-hour hand (also sometimes referred to as a “true GMT”), and unlike most timepieces that offer this type of travel-ready functionality, Vaer’s new G5 GMT costs significantly below the thousand-dollar price point.
For many years, mechanical GMT watches were accompanied by somewhat of a price floor due to the nature of their internal movements, and this was especially true for “flier” GMT watches, where the local 12-hour hand is independently adjustable and can be jumped either forwards or backward in one-hour increments. The “flier” name comes from the fact that this style of GMT movement is best suited for navigating across different time zones while having an independently adjustable 24-hour hand (often referred to as a “caller GMT”) is generally better suited for those who reference other time zones but less frequently find themselves actually moving between them. While Seiko’s 4R34/NH34 movement significantly helped bring down the price of mechanical “caller” GMT watches, it still wasn’t a “flier” style GMT, and it has only been since the introduction of the Miyota Caliber 9075 that small-scale independent brands have been able to offer a “flier” style GMT watch for less than a few thousand dollars.
At a quick glance, the new Vaer G5 Meridian GMT looks almost identical to the brand’s existing G7 GMT watch, and the new G5 GMT series even makes its debut appearance in four colorways that can already be found among the G7 series, including two models with black dials and either red/blue or black/blue bezels, along with an all-black PVD variant, plus a third stainless steel option that is fitted with both a green dial and a green bezel. However, while Vaer’s G7 GMT is a Swiss-made timepiece powered by the Sellita SW330-2 and priced just above the thousand-dollar mark, the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT is an American-assembled version that runs on the Japanese Miyota 9075. Rather than just being a non-Swiss version of the G7 GMT that can be sold at a lower price point, the new G5 GMT series offers even greater functionality when it comes to actually serving as a travel watch, and it may be one of the most compelling options in Vaer’s current lineup.
Crafted from 316L stainless steel, the case of the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT measures 39mm in diameter, and the twisted lugs with brushed and polished surfaces extend to create an overall lug-to-lug profile of 48mm. Similar to the G7 series, the new G5 GMT features a signed screw-down crown at the 3 o’clock location (without crown guards), a screw-down caseback fitted with a sapphire display window, and 200 meters of water resistance, which is also covered by the brand’s two-year warranty. Although the case of the G5 Meridian GMT is objectively rather chunky, the curved sides and twisted lugs help to minimize its overall perceived size. That said, it still wears very much like a vintage-inspired diver, and its domed upper profile hardly lends itself to an ultra-thin presence on the wrist.
Sitting on top of the case of the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT is a 120-click bidirectional bezel fitted with a ceramic insert that has a luminous 24-hour scale, while the dial is protected by a highly convex double-domed sapphire crystal, which sticks up above the rim of the bezel and increases the overall thickness of the G5 Meridian GMT from 13.2mm to 15.6mm. Additionally, while the crystal does feature an anti-reflective coating, its heavily domed profile guarantees that you will end up seeing some reflections in it, and due to the glossy nature of the ceramic insert, the Vaer G5 GMT ultimately offers a much more shiny appearance than its 1950s/1960s-inspired design language might otherwise indicate.
The black dials fitted to the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT feature a very subtle sunburst finish; however, due to the reflective nature of the heavily domed sapphire crystal, it isn’t something that you really notice unless you happen to be in bright and direct sunlight. The applied hour markers and date window at 6 o’clock all receive raised metallic surrounds, and unlike the brand’s Swiss-made G7 series, the signature at the bottom of the dials fitted to the Vaer G5 GMT reads “American Assembly” to denote that the watches are assembled in the United States using a variety of imported components. While I openly admit that the Swiss produce some of the very finest timepieces in the world, most people aren’t going to be snobs about country of origin when it comes to watches that sell below the thousand-dollar price point, and I personally enjoy that it says “American Assembly” given that the brand itself is located in the United States.
The handset fitted to the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT offers a fairly straightforward sword-shaped design, and while the three standard time-telling hands receive a gentle brushed finish, all four of the different colorways for the G5 GMT series receive bright red GMT hands that have luminous arrow-shaped tips. The white printed minute track located along the outer periphery of the dial includes Arabic numerals at the five-minute markers, although I would have personally rather had an additional 24-hour scale printed in this location, as it would allow the G5 Meridian GMT to display a secondary timezone without requiring the use of its bezel. The geometric hour markers on the dial receive 20 layers of Grade A BGW9 Super-LumiNova for maximum brightness, and all four of the hands, plus the entirety of the 24-hour scale on the ceramic bezel are also finished with blue-emission luminous material to create a highly legible display in the dark.
Powering the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT is the Miyota Caliber 9075 automatic movement, which is a true “flier” style GMT that offers the same core functionality as premium options like those from Rolex, Omega, and Tudor but at a significantly lower price point. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 42 hours, the Miyota 9075 crucially allows users to jump the local 12-hour hand backward or forwards in one-hour increments, with the date display changing over as the local hour hand passes midnight. When it comes to actually traveling and quickly changing between time zones, this is exactly the type of functionality that you want in a watch, and the Miyota Cal. 9075 movements inside the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT series are further regulated to keep time within -5/+15 seconds per day. Additionally, while the movement itself offers Miyota’s standard levels of decoration, the rotor does include the brand’s logo printed upon its surface, with the entirety of it visible through the sapphire display window in the caseback.
All Vaer G5 Meridian GMT watches come with two different straps or bracelets that connect to the 20mm lugs with integrated quick-release springbars. Since the G5 GMT was designed to be used in the water, a black FKM rubber tropic strap is the standard included configuration, as it is the most water-friendly option available for the model. The rubber strap is soft and flexible, and it gets completed by a brushed stainless steel pin buckle that is signed with Vaer’s logo. For the secondary strap/bracelet option, buyers have the option of either a simple NATO or a nylon single pass strap — or opting for one of the premium leather straps or stainless steel bracelets. Available with the option of either Oyster or Jubilee styles, the bracelets for the G5 Meridian GMT feature a completely solid-link design with single-sided screws for the removable links and a double push-button folding clasp. While the bracelet doesn’t have an integrated extension system, it is still more than serviceable, and it can easily be swapped back and forth with the included rubber strap due to the fact that both wrist closure options incorporate integrated quick-release springbars into their designs.
The new Vaer G5 Meridian GMT checks all the major boxes in terms of what a person could want from a travel watch, while still remaining firmly on the affordable side of the spectrum. With an official retail price of $799 USD (or $849 USD should buyers opt for one of the premium strap/bracelet options), the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT is even less expensive than the various options available from the Swatch Group brands that offer “flier” style GMT functionality with re-worked ETA movements. Aside from being slightly chunky and having a surprisingly shiny crystal and bezel, my biggest critique of the brand’s new G5 GMT range is that the colorways are a bit derivative, and I would have personally preferred to see this model with some more unusual dial and bezel colors. That said, given everything else that this watch offers for its highly attractive price point, it’s hard to really fault it for not makings its debut appearance in the most original colors, and the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT ultimately offers quite a compelling option within the affordable “flier” style GMT segment. For more information on the Vaer G5 Meridian GMT, please visit the brand’s website.