How to Read a GMT Watch

A GMT watch is a popular timepiece among travellers, pilots, and watch enthusiasts. It features an additional hour hand that can be set independently to a second time zone, making it a useful tool for tracking time across different parts of the world. However, reading a GMT watch can be a little confusing at first. So how do you read a GMT watch? In this blog, we will guide you through the process of reading, setting and using a GMT watch.

Step 1: Identify the GMT hand

The GMT hand is usually indicated by an arrow or a small triangle on the dial. It is also commonly coloured red or blue for easy recognition. In this example, we are looking at the Rotary Henley GMT reference GB05108/30, which has a red GMT hand with a white triangle.

rotary gmt watch

Step 2: Set the GMT hand

To set the GMT hand to your desired time zone, pull the crown out to the first position and turn it clockwise or counter clockwise until the GMT hand points to the desired hour on the 24-hour scale. Make sure to adjust the GMT hand only and not the regular hour hand.

Step 3: Read the regular hour hand

The regular hour hand on a GMT watch shows the local time of your current location. To read it, simply look at the hour hand and note the hour it is pointing to on the dial.

Step 4: Read the GMT hand

The GMT hand shows the time in the second time zone you have set it to. To read it, simply look at the GMT hand and note the hour it is pointing to on the 24-hour scale. In the example image, the GMT hand would be pointing to 9AM.

Additional tips:

  • Some GMT watches (such as the  Rotary Henley GMT above) come with a rotating bezel that can be used to track a third time zone. To use the bezel, simply rotate it until the desired time zone aligns with the GMT hand.

  • When travelling across time zones, it is recommended to adjust the regular hour hand to the local time and leave the GMT hand set to your home time zone. This will allow you to keep track of both times easily.

Reading a GMT watch may seem complicated at first, but with a little practice, it becomes second nature. Follow the steps outlined above, and you'll be able to read and utilise the additional functionality of your GMT watch in no time.