MICRO MONDAYS: The CuleM Skyline GMT CollectionFergus Nash
When it comes down to it, a watch with a GMT complication is really just a love letter to travelling. Regardless of their original purpose as pilot’s watches or otherwise, whenever someone sees a GMT their mind instantly imagines adjusting that little fourth hand to their home time while taking off to somewhere new and exciting. But, CuleM have taken a slightly different approach, instead creating a love letter to two specific cities — London and New York. Married with the lust-for-life that a GMT represents, the CuleM Skyline GMT collection is the perfect watch for anyone with a passion for either global city at a reasonable price and local impact.
CuleM, founded by British-Australian Matthew Cule, has a fascination with the world. Not just in travelling it, but also improving it, using watch sales to help fund environmental campaigns that have already planted over 16,000 trees, supported women’s shelters, reduced ocean plastic pollution and more. With the Skyline GMTs, 3% of sales will be donated to the local humanitarian charities ‘GrowNYC’ and London based ‘Blueprint for All’ in addition to their regular charity contributions. You can read more about their global impact here, but now let’s get into the watches.
The London dial presents the most iconic buildings of the English capital’s modern skyline, with the London Eye observation wheel, Big Ben, Tower of London and more. Meanwhile, the New York version shows off the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and coolest of all, The Statue of Liberty, whose torch acts as the central point from which the sunburst brushing effect emanates. An argument could be made that the use of such specific landmarks might alienate certain collectors and pigeonhole the demographic for these watches. However, given that the combined population of both cities is over 17 million people, there should be no shortage of interest from both home-city loyalists and non-local appreciators.
But, we can’t just give the city skylines themselves all the credit, as CuleM have chosen a particularly enticing way to represent them. Three distinct shades of pastel blue are used to fill in the buildings that are surrounded by a wire-thin silver outline, giving the dial an arty feel, while simultaneously making the buildings glint and shimmer in light. The two-tone blue chapter ring for the 24 GMT hours matches the inlay nicely, creating a wholly cohesive design that doesn’t just feel like a cool dial thrown onto a watch-parts catalogue.
The less-extravagant details of the watch are understated yet well executed, with classy applied batons as hour markers and spearhead hands that match the angular, jutting nature of the buildings beneath them. The red-tipped GMT hand is a nice pop of colour to break up the blues, and the CuleM logo is applied beneath the centre pinion. CuleM have done a great job with their logo, picking a font that’s unique and interesting without being too characterful or distracting in its own right. The date window below it is a simple dial cutout, but its 6 o’clock position gives it the symmetry that it needs.
Each watch does have two variations of their own, with the case in the original stainless steel and silver sunburst dial, or a black DLC case with a black sunburst dial. Both have their individual charms, with the silver versions feeling like they represent the daylight splendour of their cities, while the black models belong to the clubs, bars, and varying forms of buzzing nightlife. The case dimensions are quite friendly too, with a 40mm diameter that seems to strike a good balance for the space the dial requires. On the other side, etched into the perimeter of the display caseback is a handy worldtime chart that will help you set-and-forget your GMT hand, as worldtime printing can make the front of a watch look far too busy.
Through the caseback, you can see the lovely Geneva striping decoration on the customised ETA 2893-2 rotor. The specifications are what you would expect from a solid Swiss movement, with a beat rate of 28,800vph and a 42 hour power reserve. The GMT hand can be adjusted independently in one-hour increments without the need to hack the seconds, making the crossing of time zones incredibly trivial. This movement has been used by several other prestigious brands such as Hamilton, Sinn, Baume & Mercier, and Panerai.
The CuleM Skyline GMTs retail at $1,210 USD, which may be over the psychological $999 barrier, but they make a compelling case for themselves. The attention to detail with these watches is something that is very rarely seen in watchmaking with the focus given to the creation of an artwork rather than just interesting colours or hand shapes. The ETA 2893-2 has appeared in many more expensive watches, so the only real consideration is whether or not you fell in love with the watch when you saw the photos. If you did, you’ve got your answer already.