May 13, 2023
When Seiko first announced its 5 Sports GMT series in the summer of 2022, it became an immediate hit among enthusiasts and industry professionals, alike. While the general public gravitated towards the series’ affordable pricing and classic SKX-inspired styling, the watch industry at large keyed in on another point altogether — the line’s 4R34 automatic GMT movement (alternately known as the NH34 outside of Seiko’s own model lineup). The 4R34/NH34 was almost immediately made available as a standalone caliber for independent brands, and nearly a year after this announcement the first crop of affordable NH34-powered watches is beginning to appear on the market. Swedish microbrand Nezumi is one of the first marques to give its take on the NH34 platform, and if this new model is any indication, the entry-level GMT market is about to get far more interesting. The new Nezumi Aviera GMT offers a “greatest hits” mix of vintage sports watch design elements, blended together deftly with an intriguing colorway, excellent build quality, and a solidly reliable movement to form one of the strongest contenders in the current affordable GMT segment.
As a start, the Nezumi Aviera GMT’s stainless steel case provides an old-school compact sports watch feel on the wrist. At 40mm-wide and 12mm-thick, it’s not as small as some currently trending designs but does offer the same sort of on-wrist dimensions that you’d find in many of the ‘60s and ‘70s sports GMTs this aims to reinterpret. It’s also significantly more svelte than previous models using this movement. The overall design here is broadly vintage-inspired, combining elements from several classic sports watches without directly copying any particular design. For example, the twisted lyre lugs (more Universal Geneve-esque in their profiles than the more common Omega type) add a touch of refinement and complexity to the layout on the wrist, while the fixed, sunburst brushed 24-hour bezel (somewhat inspired by the original Rolex Explorer II) keeps the core of the design rugged, functional, and easily legible. Although the case is fully brushed, there’s a surprising amount of depth and nuance to the finishing. Radial, linear, and sunburst brushing all coexist on different surfaces throughout the case, giving the relatively simple overall shape a fair amount of visual detail without sacrificing the purposeful tool-like feel of full brushing. A signed screw-down crown helps the Aviera GMT reach a hefty 200 meters of water resistance, backing up the design’s functional look with real performance. Around back, a shallow engraved solid caseback celebrates both the brand’s 12 years of operation and its proudly Swedish roots (our review sample was a prototype model, and final production variants will have the same design embossed rather than engraved into the surface).
Nezumi keeps the dial of the Aviera GMT simple and straightforward. A printed mix of large Arabic numerals and wedge indices in conjunction with a cream-white painted syringe handset makes this dial exceedingly legible at a glance. Likewise, the skeletonized spearhead GMT hand in vivid signal yellow makes the second time zone instantly discernible, particularly thanks to the external 24-hour bezel. Altogether, this is a starkly function-forward no-date GMT dial design, but Nezumi elevates this basic formula with its use of color. The main dial surface, along with the bases of the hands, is coated in a muted, soft matte teal hue. It’s a color that feels like it’s been weathered for decades right out of the box, especially when paired with the creamy off-white dial text, lending the design an aged vintage feel without resorting to the usual tricks of the trade. It complements the more vivid splash of yellow on the GMT hand well, paying homage to the colors of the Swedish flag without directly copying them and delivering a more lively alternative to simple black. Arguably, however, this simple layout is almost too simple. The completely flat dial surface leads to a tall, horizontally brushed vertical rehaut, and a sloping outer chapter ring might have helped to alleviate some of this apparent visual height.
Inside the Nezumi Aviera GMT beats the Seiko NH34 automatic GMT movement. Based on Seiko’s ubiquitous 4R platform, the NH34 is both remarkably slim and low-cost for a third-party GMT movement in the current market, and it’s this confluence of traits that allows the Aviera GMT to succeed. According to the brand’s founder David Campo, the Aviera GMT was the second watch ever design for Nezumi back in 2015, but the brand put the project on hiatus until a suitable GMT movement was available. The NH34 certainly fits the bill here as the new go-to powerplant for independent watchmakers, and its decent performance figures include a 40-hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate. Of course, the NH34’s status as a “caller” GMT movement (featuring a quickset 24-hour hand rather than quickset local time) is sure to rustle some purist feathers, but given the Aviera GMT’s accessible price point, it’s difficult to fault the movement here.
Nezumi pairs the Aviera GMT with a five-link jubilee-style bracelet in stainless steel. Rather than using the polished center links that usually define this style, Nezumi gives this dressy pattern a more aggressive edge with a fully brushed look that matches the case. Most of the rest of the bracelet design is exemplary, however, with a thick-milled clasp and solid links throughout. The one exception to the overall feeling of quality here is the endlink design, which mates to the case at a harsh 90-degree angle and does not follow the contours of the rest of the design. For consumers that prefer straps, Nezumi also offers the watch with a matching blue rubber tropic strap or a leather strap in black or brown.
The entry-level GMT watch segment is due to become one of the most hotly contested spaces in the industry thanks to the availability of the Seiko NH34 movement, and the Nezumi Aviera GMT is a compelling and stylish indicator of the impressive quality that these NH34-powered designs can achieve. The Nezumi Aviera GMT will be available for pre-order soon through the brand’s e-commerce platform. MSRP for the Nezumi Aviera GMT stands at 4,480 SEK (as pictured) as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Aviera GMT
>Price: 4,480 SEK
>Size: 40mm-wide, 12mm-thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a daily-wear sports watch, or as a rugged accent piece to a vintage outfit.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Collectors looking for a truly affordable, well-made GMT option, or enthusiasts who like the Seiko 5 Sports GMT but want a different look.
>Best characteristic of watch: Handsomely balanced proportions; attractively muted colorway; solid finishing.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Rather clunky bracelet end links and a completely flat dial layout.