Zelos Horizons GMT

Zelos has a knack for creating watches that get your attention. Their original designs, materials, and dials that often have a lot of depth make them stand out from the crowd of microbrand watches. Their recent offerings have elevated their lineup even further. From the ETA 6498-powered handwinding pilot watch to their extensive bronze dive watch collection, Zelos is a brand worth taking a look at.

2019 seems to be becoming the year of the GMT. Whether it be the “poor man’s” GMT (a 12 hour bezel) or a 4-hander GMT, they are becoming more popular as our world becomes more globalized and travel is a regular part of life. Zelos has added a GMT of their own, the Horizons GMT. On paper it seems to hit all the right buttons for those seeking a functional GMT that is subtle enough for business travel but unique enough to stand out from the endless onslaught of Rolex GMT Masters. Does it really check all the right boxes? Let’s find out.

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Dial & Bezel

Like most of Zelos’ watches, the Horizon comes in both a stainless steel case or a bronze case. The various dial colors ranging from deep green to a meteorite inlay are sure to satisfy whatever color combo you might desire. The version seen here is the stainless steel cobalt blue variant, which at the time of this writing, is already sold out.

The first thing most are going to notice is the radiant blue dial. The sunburst blue isn’t as deep as something like the Oris Aquis, but rather is brighter which can give it an almost matte-like appearance in certain lighting. If you’re a fan of blue dials, this one is going to scratch a major itch for you.

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The markers are a variation between batons and triangles with the triangles marking the 9, 12 and 3 o’clock positions. Each marker is slightly inset into the chapter ring, adding depth to the dial and being slightly reminiscent of the Tudor Pelagos. Zelos’ logo is applied at 12 o’clock and GMT and 200m=660 ft is displayed at 6 o’clock in red printed text.

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Each marker is filled with plenty of Super-LumiNova C3 X1, which will glow brightly and remain bright all night.

The hour and minute hands are thick batons with a slight point at the end. The GMT hand features a brightly lit red/orange arrow that complements some of the printed text on the rest of the dial. These hands, along with the seconds hand, are filled with lume.

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The chapter ring features an inner 24-hour scale with numerals marked every 2 hours and white lines in between. The chapter ring’s color matches the dial but is brushed. This allows the chapter ring to blend in but also be readable when needed. Coupled with the rotating 24-hour bezel, the wearer can track 3 time zones with the Horizon GMT.

The ceramic bezel is dual-color to help denote a day/night division to the wearer. Half cobalt blue to match the dial and half blue/gray, the Horizon’s bezel thankfully did not buy into the Pepsi bezel craze from this year. The bezel features 60 bi-directional clicks and is mounted on ball bearings. Each click is satisfying but has a small amount of back play. There isn’t enough to be concerned about misalignment or accidental movement, however. The knurling on the bezel is easy to grip with 4 smoother areas spaced equally on the side. The only marker on the bezel that features lume is the 0:00 arrow. I would have liked to see a fully lumed bezel as Zelos has used in other models.

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Movement

While it seems that the Swatch Group will be cutting off the supply of ETA movements in the near future, it didn’t stop Zelos for now. The Horizons is fitted with an elaboré grade ETA-2893. The movement is nicely decorated, especially considering the price point at which this watch falls. The custom rotor is gold in color and features a world map, which is a nice touch. You will experience some of the smoothest winding possible with this movement. There is just enough resistance to know you’re winding it but it is smooth enough to accomplish it with a light touch.

The ETA 2893 features the jumping GMT hand, as opposed to a jumping hour hand, which some call a true GMT. When you pull the crown out one position, you can adjust the GMT hand by spinning the crown away from you and change the date by spinning the crown toward you. In the next position, the crown will adjust the hour and minute hands with the GMT hand changing with the main hour hand.

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I have one major gripe regarding the movement, or rather the assembly of it. Both myself and a friend of mine who also has this watch noticed a significant amount of play when the crown is unscrewed. The amount of play was enough that I made sure to take special care when operating it as to not break it off. My friend contacted Zelos and was told that it was normal. I’ve also seen this on a few YouTube videos of this watch. I am not well-versed enough in watch movements and construction to say whether this poses any real problems, but for a watch in this price range I would like to feel more comfortable operating the crown.

Case & Wearability

Coming in at 40mm wide with a 45mm lug-to-lug distance, the Horizons GMT is going to please just about any wrist. Combined with a 20mm lug width and a case height of 12mm, the proportions are spot on and extremely well balanced. The case protrudes slightly out from the bezel with a small step in, which makes gripping and turning the bezel a breeze.

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The Horizons GMT almost disappears on your wrist, but in a good way. It is unobtrusive enough to slip under your shirt and not bump into anything, which may be beneficial while traveling. It is easy to read at a glance and adjust the time upon landing at your destination.

The case is finished well on the Horizons GMT with clean brushing and polishing. A polished chamfer extends from lug to lug, providing a clean line running down the side of the watch. An exhibition caseback allows the wearer to view the beautifully finished movement.  This is all accomplished while maintaining a 200-meter water resistance rating.

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Strap & Bracelet Options

The Horizons GMT will come with a tropic strap and a Horween leather strap. Both are supple and comfortable out of the box. The leather strap has quick release spring bars while the tropic uses standard spring bars. The tropic strap is the winner of the two included straps. It looks great on any color combination and is comfortable in almost any situation.

Zelos Horizons GMT

The lug holes sit rather close to the case, which can thrash some aftermarket straps after some use depending on their thickness. I tried very different straps and some rubbed against the case while others did not, so I don’t consider this a huge concern.

Zelos now offers a stainless steel bracelet for the Horizons GMT. I did not have the bracelet to test, but it does have solid endlinks and screwed links. I would have liked to see the bracelet be offered with the watch or at least as an option at the time of release (the bracelet was released a couple months after the watch).

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Conclusion

It’s refreshing to see an automatic GMT with a top-grade movement packed into one of the most wearable sizes for modern watches. Even more refreshing are the color options that Zelos offers on the Horizons GMT. It’s a nice break from Pepsi-colored bezels.

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Out of all the watches I’ve tried on in 2019, the Horizons GMT is my favorite-fitting watch. You put it on and it instantly feels comfortable and right at home. It has just enough flash to get noticed by others but still fly under the radar.

My concerns about the crown are far outweighed by how this watch looks, feels, and performs. I think this watch is a clear indication of where Zelos is heading. Each release seems to step their game up a little more. If you’re looking for an affordable GMT with an excellent movement, take a look at the Horizons GMT.

Case Width40mmThickness12mm
Lug-to-lug Height45mmLug Width20mm
CrystalDomed SapphireStrapStrap
Water Resistance200 metersLumeSuper-LumiNova® C3 X1
MovementETA 2893 ElaboréPrice$849

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