The Rolex GMT-Master remains amongst the most recognizable watches on the planet. Immensely sought after by watch enthusiasts and globe trotters, the iconic timepiece truly embodies the essence of a cosmopolitan watch. However, Rolex’s enormous price tag often exists as a deterrent to many aficionados. For instance, a brand new oystersteel GMT-Master II will set you back by over eight thousand dollars. But, don’t let the Rolex pricing keep you away from the watch you desire. A number of brands currently have models that are similar to the GMT-Master, proving to be great affordable alternatives.
It is essential to learn the history, stature, and features of the Rolex GMT-Master before we suggest alternatives. This article will shed light on the GMT-Master and the recommended alternatives with some detail on their respective brands.
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Rolex GMT-Master II
Considered the benchmark for luxury brands, Swiss watchmaker Rolex originally unveiled the GMT-Master in 1955. Conceived, designed, and developed as a professional navigation instrument for intercontinental travelers, the watch gained tremendous popularity. Subsequently, the need to update the model arose and the GMT-Master II released. Since its inception, the new model attracted contemporary world travelers, given its robustness and unmatched functionality. Association with Pan Am and Concorde further cemented the GMT-Master’s reputation.
The most identifiable feature remains the two-colored 24-hour bezel on the 40mm case. Rolex uses two colors to differentiate the daytime hours from the night. Made from extremely hard ceramic, the rotatable bezel is bidirectional. The colors and sheen exist for years, thanks to the scratchproof and anti-corrosion properties.
Amongst its many features, the most important one is simultaneously showcasing two time zones. The GMT-Master II hosts an additional triangle-tipped 24-hour hand that works in correspondence with the bezel. Apart from the hour, minute, and seconds hands, this additional hand can display an alternative time zone. Above all, precise timekeeping is a critical checkbox at Rolex. As a result, the watch hosts a new-generation movement developed in house, the Calibre 3285. Besides, it also features a date display at 3 o’clock. With Rolex’s configuration options, the watch is available in oystersteel, everose gold, and white gold options. It should come as no surprise that the prices exponentially increase with these options. On the other hand, here are a few affordable and homage alternatives for you to consider.
Best Affordable Rolex GMT Master Alternatives
Timex Allied Three GMT
This watch is a slight departure from the design and looks of the Rolex GMT-Master II. However, it is a great affordable GMT alternative. Timex makes well-engineered and precise watches at affordable prices.
The Allied Three GMT is a great example of their excellent quality. The 43mm stainless steel watch features Timex’s proprietary movement under the black dial.
Capable of tracking three time zones, the watch also features a date display at 3 o’clock. If you are considering a sportier-looking GMT watch, this one is ideal. In addition, the watch is water-resistant up to 100m, ideal for recreational water activity. Strap options are available in silicone, leather, and steel.
Tudor Black Bay GMT
As a sister company to Rolex, the Tudor brand ensures Rolex like quality, technology, and craftsmanship. The luxury Swiss brand most renowned for its professional tool watches offers the Black Bay GMT as a worthy alternative. Slightly larger at 41mm, the stainless steel case hosts the Calibre MT5652 movement.
The burgundy and blue bezel with a black dial bears a close resemblance to the GMT-Master II. The ionized aluminum, bidirectional rotating bezel works in tandem with the additional red hand. Keeping true to Tudor’s focus on robust and tough watches, this model is water-resistant up to 200m. Luminescent hour markers and hands ensure legibility underwater and in darkness. In addition, leather and fabric options are available should you choose to experiment with the classic look.
To read about Tudor, click here.
Davosa Ternos Professional GMT
Swiss watch brand Davosa has quite a rich and unique history. Initially, conceived as a brand for a small collection, the Davosa brand has grown in stature, scale, and name. Amongst their many collections, we’re looking at the Ternos diving model. More Specifically, the Davosa Ternos Professional GMT.
This alternative shares a striking resemblance to the Rolex including the design, marker, hands, date display, and bezel. The 42mm stainless steel case hosts a black dial with SuperLumiNova treated indexes and hands. An additional red hand displays for an alternate timezone works with the unidirectional, high-tech ceramic bezel. Powered by DAV 3032 automatic movement, the Ternos Professional is a more than capable diving watch too. As a result, it is water-resistant up to 20ATM.
If this interests you, read our brand review here.
Marc & Sons Series GMT Steel
Established in 2006 by Marco Heimrich, Marc & Sons remains a relatively new company compared to traditional watch brands. The German watchmaker presents an affordable alternative to the Rolex GMT-Master II with their very own GMT Steel Series. Featuring a Swiss ETA 2893-2 movement in a 41mm stainless steel case, the watch echoes a sporty and elegant look.
In addition, the dial features a date display, Superluminova BGW9 treated indices, and hands. The bidirectional, aluminum bezel, too, is luminescent and the additional red hand displays secondary time zone. More importantly, the watch is water-resistant up to 500m. The brand also offers the GMT in a fashionable Bronze Series.
Bernhardt Corsair GMT
North Carolina based family-run brand, the Bernhardt Watch Company borrows its name from the founder – Fred Bernhardt Amos. The brand continues to design timepieces in North Carolina. Bernhardt features a GMT model of its own, the Corsair GMT – an updated model of the previously named Globemaster GMT. The 42mm stainless steel case houses the Swiss ETA 2836 automatic movement with GMT function and a 24hour rotating bezel.
Additionally, the dial features a date display at 4 o’clock, luminescent hands and indices under a sapphire crystal. Besides the watch also boasts of a see-through rear and comes with a two-year warranty. Fun fact – the Corsair name draws inspiration from the F4U Corsair fighter plane.
Tag Heuer Aquaracer GMT
Another Swiss luxury watch brand offers a great alternative to the Rolex GMT-Master II. With over a century of watchmaking know-how, Tag Heuer has consistently produced iconic timepieces. The brand garners great acclaim for its radical styling, precise timekeeping, and use of technology. From their successful dive collection, we’ve chosen the Tag Heuer Aquaracer GMT model for this list.
The 43mm case features a Rolex like bicolored, 24hour, steel rotating bezel. The dial on this one is black with a brushed pattern and it hosts special luminescent markers and hands. In a similar vein to the Rolex, the date display at 3 o’clock sits under a magnified section. Powered by the Calibre 7 Automatic movement, it also features an additional red hand for GMT.
Mondia Icon GMT MS-217
The Mondia brand began watchmaking in 1935 in Le Locle, Switzerland. Founded by watchmaker Paul Vermot, Mondia brands itself as ‘affordable luxury. This philosophy makes them an ideal Rolex GMT-Master II alternative brand with its Mondia Icon GMT MS-217.
In a similar vein to most models here, the watch hosts the Automatic Eta 2893 movement. The 40mm stainless steel case houses a date display, a GMT & the traditional hands under an antiglare sapphire crystal. The 24hour rotating bezel ring is ceramic. In addition, the watch is water-resistant up to 10ATM and costs a small fraction of the Rolex. If you have a larger wrist, consider the Mondia Icon GMT MS-214, measuring at 43mm.
Raymond Weil Tango 300 GMT
Raymond Weil established the Swiss brand in 1976. It remains a family-owned brand to this day and caters to toward the lower end of the luxury watch market. For this list, we recommend the Tango 300 GMT as a Rolex GMT-Master II alternative.
Built as a diver’s watch, the model is water-resistant up to 300m. The Rolex like red and blue, aluminum bi-directional rotating bezel sits on a 42mm stainless steel case. Unlike many watches here, this one runs on a Quartz movement with GMT function. Furthermore, the dial features a date display at 3 o’clock and luminous indexes and hands under an antiglare sapphire crystal. Music lovers are in for a treat, as the brand currently offers the same watch in a Bob Marley edition.
Steinhart GMT-Ocean One 39
Founded in 2001, German watch manufacturer Steinhart draws a lot of design inspiration from Rolex models. A number of models they offer look very alike to many Rolex models, but cost a fraction of the price. In a similar vein, the brand’s GMT-Ocean One 39 shares similar design and features with the GMT-Master II. For instance, the 24h blue-red bezel, Rolex like Superluminova treated hour markers, and hands feature on the Steinhart. Even the magnified date display appears at 3 o’clock. In addition, the watch features Swiss-made ETA movements in a 39mm stainless steel case and is waterproof up to 30ATM. You can choose between either an aluminum bezel or a ceramic bezel option for a few extra bucks.
Le Jour Seacolt GMT Collection
Le Jour’s history is one of ups and downs. Founded in the 1960s, Le Jour slowly grew to a renowned manufacturer of Swiss-made watches. Their modest pricing and use of Valjoux movements help the brand sell worldwide. Unfortunately, the brand faded like make other European watch brands during the 1980s with Quartz pieces flooding the market. After a long hiatus, the brand is looking to reclaim the lost glory with its new line of watches.
The brand currently features the Seacolt GMT Collection which is very similar to the Rolex GMT-Master II. Available in five color options, the Seacolt GMT features ‘Old Radium’ Super-LumiNova treated hands and indexes on the dial. The 24hour markers on the unidirectional bezel are also luminescent and sit on a 40mm 316L stainless steel case. Powered by the Swiss Made ETA 2836 movement, the timepiece is also water-resistant up to 300m.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m
More specifically, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m Co‑Axial Master Chronometer GMT 43.5mm. We do understand this article recommends ‘affordable’ alternatives, yet, we’ve added this watch as a bonus model.
For watch enthusiasts who don’t mind Rolex’s price tag but are looking for an alternative, we recommend this stunner. The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean watches are more than worthy, capable, and luxury alternatives. Measuring at 43.5mm in diameter, the steel case hosts Calibre Omega 8906 movement. The black dial features a date display and an additional GMT hand. Made of polished ceramic, the bidirectional rotating bezel comes in a timeless black and white combination. In addition, the watch is a proven underwater instrument and water-resistant up to 600m. Other incredible features include anti-magnetic and shock-resistant qualities.
Given the popularity of Rolex and the rise in globetrotters, there are a number of additional GMT alternatives available today. Some honorable mentions include – Seiko SNR033J1, Christopher Ward C65 Trident GMT, Victorinox Infantry GMT, Breitling GMT, IWC Pilot Automatic GMT.