Travel broadens the mind. Unless, of course, you have to visit Shanghai through Pudong International Airport, otherwise known as Dante's seventh ring of hell. I was trapped there for 17 hours - yes, 17 - in June for various reasons, such as the raindrops being too heavy. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the travel-broadens-the-mind malarkey. For those of us who have to travel for work, however, it can become mundane. So, this week, I'm gonna be all helpful and run through three classy GMT watches that will make travel a little less painful.
"GMT" stands for Greenwich Mean Time and is the "0" point on the 24-hour scale of international time zones. It was established so that travellers could quickly work out what the time was all over the world - as long as they knew what GMT was.
First up we have a modern take on the GMT from Girard-Perregaux, a great Swiss watchmaker that's sadly being neglected by its luxury conglomerate owners. Despite this, Girard-Perregaux can still produce watches such as the Traveller Large Date, Moon Phases & GMT (right), which has the added wonder of a transparent dial. The watch has a number of features aside from the second time zone dial at the four o'clock position, including a large patented date indication, moon-phase indication and small seconds. The transparent dial gives the moon-phase indicator the impression that it is floating. Inside is an in-house GP03300 movement with 46 hours of power and the strap is black alligator leather. The stainless-steel, 44mm case version is priced at a tempting HK$137,500; there is also a pink-gold version, which will set you back HK$262,600.
There's your fancy-schmancy modernist GMT and then there's old school, classical fare such as the Arnold & Son Double Tourbillon Escapement (left). (OK, this is fancy schmancy, too, given that it has not one but two tourbillons.) Looks wise, this is a nice tribute to dual-time telling, with Roman numerals on the upper dial and Arabic ones on the lower. The dials are beautifully complemented by the tourbillons on either side - the added drama is that the tourbillon bridges (the two white-gold pieces at the centre that hold the tourbillons in place) are raised a little, giving a three-dimensional depth to the watch. The selling point are the tourbillons and the movement, the 8513, a calibre exclusive to A&S that features two barrels that give out 90 hours of power. The 43.5mm case is white gold, but there is also a red-gold version, and the strap comes in either black or brown alligator leather. Limited to 28 pieces, the Arnold & Son Double Tourbillon Escapement in white gold is priced at HK$1.7 million.
Finally, we have the Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT (below). The Engineer Hydrocarbon line is aimed at active folk, the type who climb mountains because it's "fun", so, this is a shock- and scratch-resistant watch that features a crown protector, triple folding buckle and Amortiser and SpringLock technology. This Engineer Hydrocarbon has the added grace of a second-time-zone indicator, just in case you're halfway up a mountain and want to know if it is a sensible time to call Mum. The micro gas tubes positively explode with light at night (below left) increasing legibility while turning your wrist into the Las Vegas Strip. Inside is a RR1201-C movement and the case is made of steel and sized at 42mm. The Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT is priced at a bargain HK$23,980.