Watch Alert: Bulova Classic Series Wilton GMT

Japanese GMT movements are like buses. You wait ages for one and then two to turn up at once. Bulova has launched a new GMT watch that comes with a new movement from Miyota. That might surprise some but I think that many forget that Bulova is owned by Citizen. With that connection, it’s no surprise that Bulova is the first company to receive a new movement from Miyota (also owned by Citizen). The Wilton GMT is the new watch in their classic series; the Wilton GMT. It is powered by a new Miyota 9075 movement which is a GMT movement with an independently set hour hand. The 9075 follows closely along from Seiko’s NH34 GMT and is a second affordable GMT movement from the Japanese movement powerhouses.

Does the new Bulova match the importance of the movement? And yes, this movement is going to be very important. As a Miyota, it’s going to be available to a whole host of macro and micro brands and as traveler GMT it’s going to democratize this type of watch in a way that will make the watch snobs weep.

Design & Watch Specifications

Dressy, oversized, confused, 316L Steel, 43mm clear case back, 30m water resistant

The Wilton GMT is an interesting watch but I can’t help thinking that Bulova didn’t know how to design a GMT and threw design ideas at a dartboard in desperation until something finally stuck. It uses Roman numerals to give a classic, dressy look but then has dauphine hands with a tiny amount of lume on them. The case is 43mm in diameter but only has 30m of water resistance and there is a world map on the dial which nods towards world timers but no moveable bezel to allow for a third-time zone. Is it a sports watch, is it a dress watch, is it a world timer? It’s none of these. It’s unusual. Being unusual is sometimes a good thing but not here.

Scottish Watches and TOCKR Watches

The watches’ identity crisis is much more obvious on the steel/blue dial version where the silver hands and indices are more obvious. The gold/white dial version is more traditional in look and is the better of the pair.

Design-wise it’s a confusing mess. It’s great to see a new traveler GMT movement at what is sure to be an affordable price, but I’m sure that the brands that use it in the future will do a better job with the aesthetics.

Movement

Miyota 9075 caliber, 28,800 vph (4Hz), 42-hour power reserve, hacking, and hand winding

The Miyota 9075 is going to be a significant movement. As a traveler GMT the hour hand is set independently unlike the Seiko R34/NH34 where the GMT hand follows the hour hand. It’s not the best-looking movement. It’s simple and industrial. I’d be quite happy to take its existence on trust without seeing it. It’s not clear if it winds in only one direction but looking at the movement through the back should answer this definitively.

The debate around traveler or office GMTs is as filled with snobbery as any other watch debate. The traveler GMT where the hour hand is set locally is the rarer of the two types and has benefits in certain limited use cases. They are a pain to set up though and are most suitable as an only watch where set-up complications are less frequent. What does matter though is that this complication will almost certainly be available at an affordable price to many watch brands. That has to be a good thing. 

Price & Availability

$875 for the steel version, $895 for the gold version – Available on Bulova’s website and through authorized dealers

This is a great price for a watch with a traveler GMT. Whether you love or hate its design the value it represents is undeniable. It will be well made. It’s certain to be reliable and it’s going to be a talking point among watch fans for years to come.

Concluding Thoughts

In 2001 Chris Bangle introduced flame surfacing to the BMW 7-series. This was not met with universal praise. Quite the opposite in fact. Over the next few years, any car manufacturer who used flame surfacing did it better. This doesn’t matter though. Chris Bangle was the design prophet for the next 10 years. He was the innovator that everyone else imitated. It’s the same with the Bulova Wilton GMT.

This is the daddy. This is the one. The revolution starts here. The design may be a bit confused but in a sense, that won’t matter. Bulova will sell heaps of them anyway. What matters is the beating heart within. The Miyota 9075 could well revolutionize the GMT market. Its price is bound to go down as volume ramps up and when it does the value price world is going to go crazy. A traveler GMT made with all the innovation and enthusiasm of the value watch world. Power to the people, watch out world.