Yesterday brought news of a new Longines GMT in their expanding Spirit collection, and fans of true travel watches with local jumping hour hands rejoiced – you can practically hear the zipping of carryon baggage and the soothing sound of rolling suitcases making their way through airport terminals as watch fans gear up for travel with a new watch that’s up to the task. But if the new Zulu GMT announced yesterday isn’t quite your style, or you just want to save about $2,000, there’s yet another option from the Swatch Group family with the same functionality in a sportier and perhaps more modern aesthetic, if that’s your thing. The Certina DS Action GMT really feels like exactly the watch a lot of enthusiasts have been asking for, literally for years, and it seems to have flown mostly under the radar.
Modeled after Certina’s Action Diver, the DS Action GMT has a dive style case with a 43mm diameter and case thickness of about 12.6mm. It’s available in a total of four colorways: a blue dial with a Pepsi-style 24 hour ring, a black dial with red and black accents (“Coke,” in GMT parlance), and two black PVD coated variants, one with green highlights, the other with orange. The watch has 200 meters of water resistance and the style is pure modern sports watch, meaning it’s large and bold, and should have a fairly wide stance thanks to a 21mm lug width. This is not exactly an original design, but knowing what you’re getting into is part of the value proposition here.
The other part of the value proposition, and the reason we think this watch is really worth discussion, is the movement. It runs on the ETA Powermatic 80.661, a variation on the newer, widely used ETA base movements with extra long power reserves, outfitted with a GMT hand. This would appear to be the same movement as the one found in the Mido Ocean Star GMT that hit stores nearly two years ago. We were excited about that watch and possibilities of seeing other brands within the Swatch stable using the same caliber to make affordable GMTs, and now with the Mido we have what we think is the most affordable yet, as this one starts at $980.
It’s also a bit smaller than the aforementioned Mido, which at 44mm was likely a nonstarter for many. The Certina also has a classic, somewhat neutral style that is inoffensive and not terribly risky, thus perfectly suited to daily beater status for someone who can make use of the jumping local hour functionality.
So, say you’re a world traveler with a slightly larger than average wrist on the hunt for an affordable GMT that looks like a classic sports watch. Where can you purchase such a thing? Certina, for years, was not available through official channels in the United States, despite being part of the behemoth that is the Swatch Group. Currently, the brand has an exclusive relationship with the Hodinkee Shop in the US, so if a true GMT at a three digit price point is exactly what you’ve been looking for since you got into the watch game, there’s exactly one place to go. Certina