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I'm sorry to appear like a moron, but I don't understand how 24 hour watches with rotating bezels work. If you can set the 24-hr hand, why do you need to rotate the bezel??

thanks for any insights...
 

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It gives another time zone. I use mine with hands on home time, 2nd hand on GMT and bezel when travelling for local.
 
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There are a few reasons. Some watches don't have an indep. 24 hr hand, like the Orient GMT. These make use of a rotating bezel/chapter ring to adjust the time difference. Problem with this is you can't tell the time at a glance, just by looking at the position of the hands.

With an indep. GMT hand (any ETA 2893), the bezel gives flexibility. For eg., you can set the GMT hand to UTC time, and rotate the bezel by the given time difference (e.g. +8 for Beijing = counterclockwise 8 hrs). Adjustment is thus instant and easy with very little math required. This is one way to use the bezel but requires the GMT hand to show local time.

Compare that to a fixed 24 hr dial. With the ETA 2893, you'll have to set the time difference between the GMT and hour hands first (and take care of the date), plus decide which one shows home time, then adjust the hour and GMT hands together with the 2nd click of the crown. This does involve some math and fiddling, esp. if you're flying to another timezone more than a few hours away. You'll also need an accurate time source to sync the watch again.

Of course you have some automatics like Rolex and Omegas that has an independent, non hacking, 12 hour hand (what WIS will call a true GMT watch) but that's a different topic altogether.

The best inexpensive GMT interface I've come across (and use) are the Seiko GMTs featuring the 8f56 GMT perpetual calendar modules. That's one watch that's always guaranteed accurate (no more than 20 s a year error) and have the correct date. It has an indep. non hacking hour hand, so one doesn't need a 24 hr bezel.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
There are a few reasons. Some watches don't have an indep. 24 hr hand, like the Orient GMT. These make use of a rotating bezel/chapter ring to adjust the time difference. Problem with this is you can't tell the time at a glance, just by looking at the position of the hands.

With an indep. GMT hand (any ETA 2893), the bezel gives flexibility. For eg., you can set the GMT hand to UTC time, and rotate the bezel by the given time difference (e.g. +8 for Beijing = counterclockwise 8 hrs). Adjustment is thus instant and easy with very little math required. This is one way to use the bezel but requires the GMT hand to show local time.
Thank you for all this info. Most of the time, what I need is a way to keep track of 2 time zones - I travel a lot, and need to know the time where I am plus back home. It seems like the 4th hand plus rotating bezel might be overkill for this. Perhaps a simple 12hr GMT bezel would be best for this.

On the other hand, I also spend a lot of time calling people in other parts of the world, and your description of how the 24 hr/extra hand works might be helpful in that context.

Thanks for the reference to the inexpensive Seikos. I'm ideally looking for an automatic option. Seems like the cheapest option would be to buy a Seiko diver (eg SKXA35) and have the bezel replaced by Bob Thayer or equivalent...

While I'm here, perhaps I could ask another question - what does "quickset" mean in adjusting dates?

Thanks.
 
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A 12 hr dial is not a GMT bezel, strictly speaking. As to replacing the bezel, you don't need Bob to do it. Any competent watchmaker or even you can attempt it. Its really easy.

Quickset: Direct adjustment of the date without moving the hour/minute hands. Usually this is accomplished by pulling the crown out 1 step. (The second step adjusts the time as usual). Older mechanical watches didn't have this feature. Either you had to turn the hands round and round or back and forth betw. 10 and 2 to advance the date.
 

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While I'm here, perhaps I could ask another question - what does "quickset" mean in adjusting dates?
That means you can set the date without moving the hands. Makes it easy to reset the date on short months.
 

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For travels throughout the US, or other small timezone jumps, a regular 12 hour watch with 12 hour bezel might suffice.
For international references, like for making your phone calls, I'd suggest either a pure 24 hour watch with rotating 24 hour bezel (for quick reference and ability to quickly change the second timezone) or a 12hr/GMT watch.
I prefer the first option for a simple reason...If I decide I need to call John Doe in England (currently plus 8 for me) at 1330 his local time, I can just glance at my watch and it makes the conversion for me...I need to call him at 0530 my local.
I use this feature on a daily basis at work to convert zulu-referenced weather prognostics (TAFs) into local times.
The purist Airman models are great for this. I also like the Universal Geneve AeroCompax.

 
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For travels throughout the US, or other small timezone jumps, a regular 12 hour watch with 12 hour bezel might suffice.
For international references, like for making your phone calls, I'd suggest either a pure 24 hour watch with rotating 24 hour bezel (for quick reference and ability to quickly change the second timezone) or a 12hr/GMT watch.
I prefer the first option for a simple reason...If I decide I need to call John Doe in England (currently plus 8 for me) at 1330 his local time, I can just glance at my watch and it makes the conversion for me...I need to call him at 0530 my local.
I use this feature on a daily basis at work to convert zulu-referenced weather prognostics (TAFs) into local times.
The purist Airman models are great for this. I also like the Universal Geneve AeroCompax.

Dennis, I think this may be getting a bit too involved for him to follow. I think I made a mistake giving too much info on my previous post/s. Without an actual watch to scenario play-act with, it's rather difficult to visualize.
 
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