A few years ago, one of the most discussed topics on watch forums, Instagram, and indeed in the Worn & Wound office, was the huge opportunity and desire among enthusiasts for a new crop of affordable GMTs with local jumping hour capability. For a time, it seemed that small watch brands could not keep up with demand for so-called “caller” GMTs with independently set 24 hour hands, but these watches are in fact massively inconvenient for travel, even though, in most cases, they were marketed and sold as watches tailor made for crossing time zones. A watch with an hour hand that reads local time and can be jumped quickly without hacking the movement is the ultimate in terms of travel functionality (with or without the ability to track home time, in my opinion), and there was a time not too long ago where it was thought that a watch with this feature deployed by microbrands in watches under $1,000 might be nothing less than a paradigm shift in the hobby. Well, we’re fully there, folks. The Miyota 9075 exists, and has been popping up in new watches from some of our favorite small brands for the better part of a year, and now Lorier has dropped it into a pair of GMT equipped watches, finally making them the dedicated travel companions many hoped they could be.
The Hyperion is what Lorier describes as “the archetypal GMT,” fitting a well established mold of classic travel watches by Rolex and others. It has deep vintage vibes, with a red and blue 24 hour bezel, gilt accents, and even a roulette date wheel. The sizing is a near spot on match for the midcentury watches that inspired it as well, coming in at 39mm in diameter and measuring 10.7mm thick (without the domed acrylic crystal taken into account). That thickness number is just a bit bigger than the prior version of the Hyperion thanks to the larger movement, but this is still a compact and easy to wear watch.
The other watch in Lorier’s stable with a Miyota 9075 ticking away inside is the all new Hydra III. The Hydra has always been Lorier’s all purpose sports watch, dive capable and much more, and in the last iteration featured a compressor style case that I was quite fond of. More than any other watch in the Lorier lineup, the Hydra has been the wildcard, the one that feels free to change dramatically when new versions are released, and that’s happened again with the Hydra III, which takes the form of an all out diver-GMT, in what for Lorier is a supersized case measuring 41mm in diameter.
I had a few minutes with the Hydra III at the Windup Watch Fair in Chicago recently, and was impressed with the fit and finish, which is exceedingly good for the $599 price tag (also the price of the new Hyperion). Lorier’s designs, rooted as they are in a vintage aesthetic, tend to be fairly restrained with an eye toward function and legibility, and the Hydra III is no different. The new wrinkle here is that it just incorporates a lot more information than the Hydras that came before it. We get a fixed 24 hour ring at the dial’s perimeter, and a rotating dive bezel to track elapsed time, along with the oversized lume plots and hands you’d expect and want in a dive watch. In short, it’s kind of busy, but in a fun way, and Lorier takes advantage of the extra space on the dial and gives that 24 hour scale (and the bezel) a full lume treatment.
Lorier, in my mind, has always been one of those tentpole microbrands that operate at the center of our community, and even though they haven’t been around that long, they’ve built up a level of seniority in the space over several years of consistent releases that dig into what at this point is an extremely well defined design language. For that reason, it feels like a big deal that they suddenly have two watches in their catalog with what is objectively a very exciting and perhaps game changing movement. A “true” GMT under $1,000 felt almost like a fantasy just a few years ago, and it seems likely that a subset of people reading this might have said something to the tune of “Imagine what a brand like Lorier could do with an affordable ‘flyer’ GMT?” Well, imagine no more: those watches are here.
Both watches are now featured on the Lorier website, with the Hydra available at the time of this writing, and the Hyperion listed as “returning soon.”