There was a thread a couple of weeks ago about whether and how we actually use some of the features of our Rolexes. With that question in mind, I thought I’d offer some observations on a recent travel experience with my new GMT.
We all know the GMT-Master IIc (116710 LN) is a good looker—as is the rest of the GMT family. But a recent trip to Hawaii showed the watch to be surprisingly practical as well. The quick-set hour hand made it easy to set local time at the layover airport, avoiding complacency or panic when comparing watch time to the scheduled departure time. At the destination I set the hour hand to local time, leaving the 24 hour hand on east coast “home” time with the bezel at neutral (triangle at 12 o’clock). Playing with it, I saw how turning the bezel 3 clicks clockwise could reference California time on the 24-hr hand, or turning it 5 clicks counter-clockwise could reference Greenwich time, if for some reason it was important to keep track of those times. That’s the “third time zone” feature.
At first, this seemed a curiosity, a “nice to have”, information available if I wanted it. But during the trip I suddenly had to transact some east coast business, and when I actually *used* the watch I found that the ability to see both local Hawaii time and east coast time at a glance was a terrific benefit. Having the 24-hr hand giving an analog display of east coast time instead of needing to do a little mental calculation to get it each time (disrupting my train of thought and opening the door to carelessly adjusting in the wrong direction—I’ll admit I’ve done it) allowed me to concentrate on my business. A glance at the 24-hr hand also warned me how much time was left in the east coast business day. Overall, the reduction in “workload” was noticeable, and valuable in avoiding distracting me from more important matters. (I think it gets to a right-brain/left-brain thing.) Now I understand why this watch is such a favorite of long-distance travelers.
During the long flights, I used it as a convenient time-to-go indicator. Setting the bezel triangle to the 24-hr hand at takeoff then turning it clockwise a number of clicks (hours) closest to what the pilot said the duration of the flight would be, let me see at a glance for the rest of the flight approximately how much time was left until landing, as the 24-hr hand closed in on the triangle. Close enough, and again, no mental calculations required.
I’ve read that Rene-Paul Jeanneret of Rolex and his Pan Am partners spent a year perfecting the design of the GMT-Master (6542). I’d love to see some of the ideas they discarded, but the one they kept sure is a winner. The watch is functional, easy to use, and definitely contributes value-added in the thick of things. The later addition of the quick-set hour hand feature (in the 16710) has made it even more versatile and easy to use. That the original inspiration of a 24-hr hand and rotating 24-hr bezel added to the familiar watch face has not been altered in more than 50 years is testimony to the genius of its creation. This is one useful watch that I’m really glad to have.