How Swatch Group quietly developed a gamechanger for affordable GMTs How Swatch Group quietly developed a gamechanger for affordable GMTs

How Swatch Group quietly developed a gamechanger for affordable GMTs

Ricardo Sime

Last year, Mido, one of the brands under the Swatch Group umbrella, released the Ocean Star GMT. Our very own Thor Svaboe has a great write up of the watch that you can find here in which he talks about the amazing value it presents within the category of Swiss-made automatic GMT’s.

While the Ocean Star GMT is a big watch at 44m, one aspect of it received a universal fanfare. That was the movement. A movement Swatch quietly developed and released years ago that could completely change the landscape of GMT watch offerings.

First released in 2018 within the Certina DS Action GMT, the ETA C07.661 movement was based off the ETA 2824.2 movement. It contains 25 jewels and vibrates at 21600 beats per hour (BPH). A date complication is included, which is tied to the movement of the hour hand. It falls within the Powermatic 80 family of movements that Swatch has released across multiple models within multiple brands, providing the wearer with 80 hours of power reserve. Yet the one specification that changes everything is the fact that this movement has Traveller GMT functionality.

A watch with the Traveller GMT function allows the wearer to set the time upon arrival by moving the hour hand in hour increments without any of the other hands needing to be adjusted. Airline pilots and international travellers love this functionality because the GMT hand on their watches usually correlates to their home time; thus, it rarely needs to be changed. Furthermore, most GMT watches use the Office functionality in their movements. They are called Office GMTs for individuals who rarely travel but either want to know what time it is in foreign markets or who have family members living abroad. On Office GMTs, the GMT hand moves in hour increments and can be set independently as well.

One of the main reasons the watch community finds the ETA C07.661 and its Traveller GMT functionality so appealing is the price points for these watches. The Rado Centrix GMT represents the ceiling at $2000 USD  while the Tissot Chemin Des Tourelless Powermatic 80 GMT at $875 USD represents the floor, with multiple offerings in between. When you dig a bit deeper and realize that this functionality tends to only exist in watches being offered by higher end brands, simple maths lets you know just how much value exists here for those who want this type of GMT.

As Swatch brands continue to release more watches with this movement, chances are more and more collectors will find a piece that suits both their needs and design preferences. Moreover, if the above mentioned range in pricing remains, consumers will be hard pressed to find alternatives that offer this kind of value. We’ve already addressed the value of the fit and finish a large company like Swatch can provide in other articles. Once you take that into consideration, I can see dominating the landscape of affordable Traveller GMTs in the future.