I’ll admit that GMT watches are valuable time keeping tools for people who travel across different time zones. These specialty watches allow the wearers to keep track of local time plus other time zones on one dial. However, in an age of satellite enabled smart phones and GPS watches, this is a bit of a retro tool for me. Regardless, that does not mean that I don’t appreciate Swiss Army’s wonderful multi-level design.
If you did not know, GMT stands for “Greenwich Mean Time”, and it is used to separate different time zones around the world. A more modern name for the time zone system is UTC for Coordinated Universal Time. The military calls it Zulu Time, but I could not discover why since that brings to mind the famous African tribe that fought the British in 1879. I’m calling that mystery “unsolved”.
There is a history on this subject that goes back hundreds of years and involves maritime travel, railroads and the politics of the British Empire. I will just leave that to Wikipedia if you want to know more. It is a fascinating read for the curious and beyond the scope of what I want to discuss.
Instead, I prefer to concentrate on the aesthetics of the Swiss Army Airboss Mach 5. It shares many of the styling cues from the long line of Airboss watches before it, especially the Mach 4 whose size and case design it inherited. The double crowns on the right of the watch are hard to miss and are part of the Airboss DNA going back to the Mach 2.
This Airboss Mach 5 has a 45 mm case, a small crown at 4 o’clock and a larger crown to control the internal bezel at 2 o’clock. This is the only dual time zone watch of the entire Airboss series so it has some unique characteristics including an internal bezel with 3-letter city abbreviations and a second time zone hand with a red arrow pointer.
The “CITY” crown moves the bi-directional inner rotating bezel that displays abbreviations for 24 cities around the world. These major cities are “time zone mascots” so if the city you want is not in the bezel, you simply pick one in the same time zone. The cities are usually well known large destinations so reading the inner bezel is like a trip around the world starting in London, Paris, Cairo, Moscow, Dubai and so forth around the globe.
The purpose of the adjustable CITY bezel is for the wearer to have a local indicated time and also be able to read the GMT time in other cities. This could be helpful if you are trying to see when to make a call to an overseas business connection or when you might arrive in a distant location. The GMT time for each city on the bezel is shown in the 24-hour military scale, which deletes the necessity to show a.m. or p.m. indicators. Obviously, 12 is noon and 24 is midnight on this scale. Swiss Army’s instructions below show how to set and read the GMT scale.
The Airboss Mach 5 is powered by a 21-jewel ETA 2893-2 automatic winding movement with a 42-hour power reserve (the time it can run without rewinding). The movement is tastefully decorated with Cotes de Geneve (stripes), pelage (circular graining) and the red shield from the Swiss Army logo. The solo shield is preferable to some of Victorinox’s rotor designs that have laser etched “Victorinox Swiss Army” in large fonts. I am glad that they chose the simpler look here.
There was a lovely silver faced version of the Mach 5 that came on a suede brown watchband. My buddy, Scott, grabbed one. I think that I like his even better than my black version, though it may be less legible.
While this watch was not for my sedentary lifestyle, I can see how someone may really enjoy using it to be virtually in 2 places at once. Visually, this model is a stunner.