Grand Timepiece Guide to Using a GMT

Tudor Black Bay Chrono
August 27, 2019
U-BOAT Classico 45 Bronzo CA BR
October 19, 2019
Grand Timepiece Guide to Using a GMT

Grand Timepiece Guide to Using a GMT

The Rolex GMT Master 2 is one of the most popular watches out there right now sporting its two-tone bezel. The GMT Master 2 is a truly gorgeous watch but you may find that you really don’t know how to use its GMT function properly. Fortunately I’m going to show you the abilities of your GMT watch, so you can get the most out of it, and learn some basics about time while traveling. Why don’t you grab your watch and take a seat, so we can get started.

It’s important that you need to understand the concepts of 24 hour time (otherwise known as Military Time) and time zones, before we even get to the watch itself. We’re all aware that each day is comprised of 24 hours and that we all live in one of 24 time zones (24 hours in a day = 24 time zones around the world). Currently, where I am in Cape Town, in the South Africa, it’s 10:10am here in South African Standard Time (SAST). The zone is two hours ahead of UTC (UTC+02:00) and is the same as Central Africa Time. That’s easy to set on your watch, but in order to use the GMT function, we will need to know the 24 hour time.

As you can see on the bezel of the GMT Master 2 there are a total of 24 markers. These markers reference 24 hour time. You may have heard someone referring to a time as oh six hundred hours or eighteen hundred hours in a war movie. This is what is known as 24 hour time. While oh six hundred hours is 6:00am and eighteen hundred hours is 6:00pm. You should think of a standard clock as being 24 hours instead of 12, with PM hours added on after 12:00pm. If 12:00pm is 1200 hours, then 1:00pm would be 1300 hours, 2:00pm PM would be 1400 hours, and so on. Then at midnight you have 2400 hours OR zero hundred hours (same thing).

 Time zones have been set up across the globe to line up exactly with the rotation of the Earth. Our time here in the South African Standard Time (SAST) in South Africa, which is based on the standard of Greenwich Mean Time in Greenwich, England. This is why the Rolex Master 2 watch is called a GMT, the acronym for Greenwich Mean Time. As mentioned before you may also see another standard of time measurement as being UTC, or Universal Time Coordinated or Coordinated Universal Time. UTC and GMT are what we would call functionally the same thing, but for our purposes here we’re going to stick to using GMT.

So think of the time zone in Greenwich, England as basically being set at zero. Our South African Standard Time Zone is two hours behind GMT. So, if our time here is 10:10am, that means it’s 12:10pm Greenwich Mean Time. This simple calculation is how we’re going to use to set your GMT watch. If you need to check your time zone you can simply do an online search for your time zone. Personally we like using since it clearly shows our current time zone as well as accurate time zones around the world now, in the past, or in the future. This can be very useful to you when you are making travel plans.

Now that we have a wrapped our heads around the concept of 24 hour time and time zones, let’s set up your GMT watch for travel. I’m going to be traveling to Nairobi in Kenya to see the Green City in the Sun, so I’ll use that time zone to set my watch. All Rolex watches have the standard minute and hour hands for setting the current time, but a GMT watch has a 24 hour hand, or GMT hand. This is how we’re going to set our current home time. Many GMT watches also have a rotating 24 hour bezel like our GMT Master 2 and this is what we will use to set a third time on our watch.

The first step is set your watch’s time to your current home time, if you haven’t already. It’s 10:10am where we are in South African Standard Time (SAST). Pull the crown out to the 2nd position and turn to set your current time and date. This is done so we have a base reference for setting our two other times. And it is also done to make sure your bezel is in its standard position, with the 24 hour triangle at noon (i.e. Triangle to triangle). Next, we will need to set our home time using the GMT hand. The home time is where you would be starting your journey. In our case, that’s Cape Town. Pull the crown out to the third position and turn until the GMT hand matches your home 24 hour time on the bezel (or dial on some watches). If our current home time is 10:10am, we will keep turning the GMT hand until it reaches just past 10 on the bezel (i.e. ten hundred ten hours in 24 hour time). The minute hand will then move too and will line up with ten minutes on the dial.

Once we have set our home 24 hour time with the GMT hand, we can then hop on the plane to Nairobi in Kenya. After landing, I am going to want to set my watch for the current East Africa Time, which is one hour ahead of Cape Town and South Africa as a whole. You can then simply pull your crown to position two and now set the time one hour ahead using the hour and minute hands. In my case, that would be 11:10am. Now we know the current time is where we are, as well as the time back home in Cape Town.

Let’s say I start a really good business deal in Nairobi in Kenya, and now I have to quickly fly to Beijing in China to continue making this deal. I need to know the time in Beijing so I can book the right flight. This is our third time zone, which we will set using the watch’s rotating bezel. Firstly I figure out that Beijing is five hours ahead of Nairobi, which makes it six hours ahead of Cape Town. The GMT hand on my watch is still set to my home time in Cape Town, so all I have to do to calculate Beijing time is rotate my 24 hour bezel six clicks, or six hours. The trick with the bezel is that you rotate it in the opposite direction that you might think.

To set a time ahead of you, you must rotate counter-clockwise. To set a time behind you, you will rotate clockwise. For Beijing being six hours ahead of our home time, we will thus rotate the bezel six clicks counter-clockwise. Now one can see, when using our pre-set GMT hand that the time in Beijing is just past 1600 hours, or 4:10pm. Thanks to the GMT Master 2’s dual bezel colors with combinations like the Pepsi, the Rootbeer and the Batman, I am able to tell that the time I set it to is during daytime hours.

Having set my GMT bezel to the time in Beijing, I can now book the right flight in order for me to arrive on time for my planned meeting. So, there you have it in a nutshell. We just set three separate time zones on the Rolex GMT Master 2, our GMT watch. Here is a quick recap, of what we did:

1.      We learned the basics of 24 hour time and time zones.

2.      We readied our watch for setting.

3.      We set our home time using the GMT hand.

4.      We then set our current time using the minute and hour hands.

5.      We finally set a third time using the rotating bezel.

Grand Timepiece has prepared you to travel the world and you can rest assured of always being on time even in three separate time zones. The GMT Master 2 was the real time keeping solution before the birth of smart phones, but that only as long as you know how to use it. Don’t forget to check out our watch band collections if you have liked any of our watch band / GMT Master combinations.

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