Review: Laco Frankfurt GMT

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If you find yourself frequently bouncing across timezones, a GMT watch should be in your collection. Sure, you can just adjust your watch as you travel, but frequent trips can leave you in a daze, and sometimes it’s nice to know what time it is at home without doing all that mental math. Even if you don’t find yourself living a Jetset lifestyle, a lot of us have to communicate with people in different time zones for work, so a watch with a GMT complication can certainly be useful there.

Laco’s new Frankfurt GMT is a tough, legible tool watch with a GMT complication that’ll make for a great travel (or desk) companion. It’s surprisingly capable and has all the right features to be a go-anywhere, do-anything type of watch. It’s a departure from Laco’s other core watches, at least as far as the design is concerned, making it a welcome change of pace from what one might expect from the brand. Let’s dig in.

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$1990

Review: Laco Frankfurt GMT

Case
Dark sandblasted stainless steel
Movement
Automatic Laco 93 GMT (ETA 2893-2 base)
Dial
Gray with internal rotating GMT bezel
Lume
Swiss Super-LumiNova® C3
Lens
Double-dome sapphire crystal with AR coating
Strap
Black water-resistant leather strap and gray/orange two piece nylon
Water Resistance
200 meters
Dimensions
43 x 50mm
Thickness
12.5mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Dual Screw-down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$1990

Case

The Frankfurt is housed in a sandblasted stainless steel case. Instead of your standard polished or brushed steel, the blasted finish gives it a dark gray matte look that matches the dial and bezel inside. It’s a lot of gray, but there are some pops of color throughout the dial that liven it up just enough to avert boredom.

The machining and finish are excellent. Edges are sharp, curves are smooth, and the case transitions well from section to section. The slope between the dual crowns is executed especially well with one crown guard curving gently into the next. In profile, the case is well balanced between the top bezel, mid-case, and caseback. The mid-case follows the circular curve of the dial, avoiding the dreaded “slab side” effect. And while a matte finish can be boring in some instances, the precise machining and balanced proportions more than make up for the monotone appearance.

Measuring in at 43mm with a 50mm lug-to-lug, the Frankfurt is not for the faint of wrist. It’s a large watch that wears that way, and there’s no getting around that. On my 6.75” wrist it has some serious presence. While the lugs don’t overhang the edges of my wrist, the Frankfurt feels like the max I’d be comfortable with wearing. The lugs are on the stubbier side and curve down towards the wrist. Had Laco went with straight lugs, it wouldn’t wear as well. I’m setting this up like it’s a bad thing, but the larger case means more room for the wide open, highly legible dial within.

On the right side of the case, you’ll find two identical screw-down crowns. The top crown operates the internal rotating 24-hour bezel, while the bottom one takes care of date, time, and adjusting the GMT hand. Both crowns are onion shaped with deep grooves cut into the surface. They’re easy to operate and the threads are buttery-smooth. Around back, you’ll see an engraving of a plane traveling around the world. While the engraving is high quality, there’s something about the angle of the plane and the wings that looks a little, well, off to me. Maybe it’s a little too cartoony? Regardless, this is just a matter of personal preference.

The caseback engraving, in the same bead blasted finish as the rest of the case.
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Dial and Hands

The expansive dial is a light mid-gray that is clearly meant to match the tones of the case. There’s some flieger DNA running through here, and it stands out most notably with the triangle and double dots prominently displayed at 12:00. Hours and minutes are printed in pale green C3 Super-LumiNova, with a large “3” and “9.” There’s a rectangular beveled date window at 6:00, with small “Made in Germany” text just underneath. Laco’s logo is printed under 12:00, while the text “GMT” balances it out right above 6:00.

Broad, sword-shaped hands are heat-treated to a deep blue hue, and are especially easy to read in both light and dark conditions  thanks to a healthy hit of lume. As a nod to aviation and travel, the seconds hand features a jet-shaped counter balance rendered in the same gray as the dial. The opposite end of the hand is white, again with a focus on legibility. I can appreciate making the jet accent the same color as the dial — it’s large enough to be seen without being too visually imposing.

Small details like the counterweight of the seconds hand in the shape of a plane give the Frankfurt a distinct personality.

Since the Frankfurt is a GMT watch, there’s also a dedicated GMT hand. The length of the hand is slim and gray like the dial, while the tip features a skeletonized orange arrow that picks up on the orange triangle at the top of the GMT bezel. It’s a nice little accent that gives a much-needed pop of color to a watch dominated by its gray tones. Running around the outside of the dial, you’ll find a 24-hour GMT bezel that’s operated via the top crown. It’s a split color theme with black for the night hours and light gray for the day hours. The numerals and hash marks between are printed in the same C3 lume seen on the dial. When fully charged, the lume gives off one heck of a light show. Laco went the extra mile by treating the tip of the GMT hand and the triangle on the bezel with orange lume. Overall, the dial is very easy to read, provides something interesting to look at, and even has colorful contrasting elements. It’s well-executed from a form-and-function point of view — not surprising from a German brand like Laco.

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Movement

Inside the Frankfurt you’ll find a modified ETA 2893-2 automatic movement with GMT functionality. ETA’s movement has its own dedicated GMT hand for tracking another time zone. With an ETA based GMT, the 24 hour GMT hand is independently adjustable, making a watch with this movement useful if you need to track the time in a far flung timezone from your home base. This differs from a “true” traveler’s GMT (like those made by Rolex and Grand Seiko), where the main hour hand jumps with you across time zones, leaving the GMT hand at home. The GMT feature on the Frankfurt, then, is more useful for those who have to frequently communicate across time zones, rather than travel across them. If you’re stationary in a single location, having the main hands point to the local time and the GMT hand to another timezone allows you to quickly and easily read the local time and reference the other hand only when you need to.

The Frankfurt is technically capable of tracking up to three time zones, thanks to the internal rotating 24 hour bezel. Although you may have to do a bit of mental math to calculate the third time zone using GMT-offset, the capability is there for those who need it.

Straps and Wearability

Laco’s Frankfurt ships with two strap options. There’s a sturdy textured black leather strap that gives off a refined, yet rugged look. On the wrist, it’s comfortable and flexible. After a little break in, it’ll be even better. The strap is also water resistant, which I always appreciate. Even the act of washing my hands with a leather strap on always makes me nervous about stains and damage. In addition to the leather strap, there’s a more colorful two piece nylon strap in the case. It’s a pretty standard strap, but the gray base and orange stripe do a great job of adding color to the watch, picking up on the orange accents throughout the dial.

The Frankfurt is a very versatile watch. You could throw this on pretty much any strap you’d like, and it’ll look great. I enjoyed it on a variety of olive green and khaki single pass straps during my time with the watch. It really gave off a cool military pilot vibe. If you prefer, you could just as easily throw it on a leather strap and dress it up just a little bit. I touched on it earlier, but the watch wears big on my 6.75” wrist. Those with larger wrists will really appreciate how it wears.

Conclusion

The biggest takeaway for me from my time with the Frankfurt is its versatility. The high level of water resistance, durable matte finish, and GMT functionality make it a great watch for both travel and home. It’s easy to read in all conditions and will look great on nearly any strap you throw at it. For a watch made in Germany from one of the original five Flieger manufacturers, the value is there. The Frankfurt feels solid, but priced just shy of $2,000, it doesn’t exactly come cheap. If you’re looking for a solid, German-made travel companion, then the Frankfurt might just be for you.

You can snag your own Frankfurt GMT in either the gray color seem here or a handsome black dialed version. It ships in a cool aluminum case with some goodies like a “Remove Before Flight” keychain and a Laco-branded spring bar tool for $1,990. Laco

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.
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