Earlier this month, Raymond Weil unveiled a duo of GMT Worldtimer watches that paired the signature case shape of the Freelancer series with a GMT movement and an internal 24-city worldtime bezel. Featuring a dual-crown configuration and available in either stainless steel and bronze or with a black DLC finish, the pair of worldtimers offered a rugged yet refined take on what can often be a rather ornate and luxurious type of wristwatch. Expanding upon the same core concept of the recently-released GMT Worldtimer is the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT, which swaps out the worldtime bezel of its siblings for a more traditional 24-hour scale, and pairs it with a classic stainless steel case and a blue gradient dial to create an elevated take on a travel watch that still offers more than enough durability and water resistance to be a go-anywhere, do-anything timekeeping companion.
Just like the two worldtimer models that debuted earlier this month, the case of the new Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT ref. 2761-STC-50001 measures 40.5mm in diameter by 9.7mm thick with an overall lug-to-lug distance of 48.35mm. Additionally, since the case itself is largely the same as the ones used for its two worldtimer siblings, the lugs on the new Freelancer GMT are set 21mm apart, and they feature the same distinct shape that is characteristic of the Freelancer collection. Similarly, just like the pair of world timer models, the lugs on the Freelancer GMT also include two different sets of spring-bar holes in order to accommodate a wider variety of strap options. However, unlike the two worldtimers, the case of the new Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT features an entirely stainless steel finish, with brushed sides and high-polished surfaces across the tops of its lugs and thin fixed bezel.
Beyond the materials and their finishing, the overall case design of the new Freelancer GMT is very much in-line with its worldtimer siblings, and it features a flat sapphire crystal protecting its dial with an anti-glare treatment on both sides, along with a pair of screw-down crowns located on the right-hand side of its case. Like the two worldtimer models, the crown at 2 o’clock is signed with the Raymond Weil logo and offers access to the movement, while the crown at 4 o’clock features a globe insignia and is used to rotate the internal 24-hour bezel. The screw-down caseback on the Freelancer GMT follows an identical design as its worldtimer siblings, and it features a sapphire display window with all of its engravings placed along an angled bevel that sits below the crystal’s surface. In addition to protecting the engravings from wear (which is especially important for the serial number engraving), this design also permits the caseback to have a larger display window to let in more light and offer an unobstructed view of the movement.
The overall design of the dial fitted to the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT is similar to what you will find on its worldtimer counterparts, although it offers a simplified design and appears in a dark blue color with a gradient effect that vertically fades from dark to light across its surface. Surrounding the flat center section is an area with subtle concentric grooves that contains the hour markers and minute track, but rather than being surrounded by a secondary 24-hour scale like on the two worldtimer models, this section of the dial is larger on the Freelancer GMT, and it extends all the way to the inner rotating bezel, with larger applied baton markers and noticeably more space between the center of the dial and the minute track. While the hands offer the same overall shape and style as the worldtimer models, they are slightly larger and longer to better correspond with the different proportions of the dial, while the red arrow-tipped GMT hand has been updated to feature a dark blue shaft that compliments the watch’s color profile.
Similar to the worldtimer models, the Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT features the brand’s name below the 12 o’clock position, along with a rectangular date window located at 6 o’clock. In place of the various city names on its bezel, the Freelancer GMT receives a more traditional 24-hour scale printed in white, with a small crescent moon shape to denote midnight. In addition to featuring different markings, the actual width of the internal bezel is slightly thinner on the new GMT model since it doesn’t need to accommodate nearly as much text as the 24 city names that need to fit on the bezel of the worldtimer. Just like the center section of the dial, the GMT bezel offers a vertical gradient effect that fades from silver to dark blue in order to offer a rough approximation of day and night hours, and all four of the hands, plus the hour markers and the crescent moon on the bezel receive an application of luminous material to aid with low-light visibility. Due to the larger hands, thinner internal bezel, and the generally more open design of the dial, the Freelancer GMT appears larger in size compared to its worldtimer siblings, yet the actual case dimensions are identical on all three of these recently released watches.
The movement powering the new Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT is identical to what you will find inside the pair of recently launched worldtimers, and at the heart of the watch resides the brand’s Caliber 3230 automatic movement. Based upon an Elaboré-grade version of the popular Sellita SW330-2, the Raymond Weil Cal. 3230 offers hacking, hand-winding, and independent adjustability for both the 24-hour hand and the date display. Additionally, it functions like many other GMT movements, by allowing users to advance the position of the GMT hand or the value inside the date window by rotating the crown in either direction while it is in the secondary setting position. A proven design that can be serviced or repaired by virtually any competent watchmaker, the Cal. 3230 runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) and it offers users a power reserve of approximately 50 hours.
Just like the pair of worldtimer models, the new Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT comes fitted with a genuine calf leather strap that is color-matched to the dial of the watch. Virtually identical to the strap that is fitted to the stainless steel and bronze worldtimer but in a rich shade of navy blue rather than green, the strap for the Freelancer GMT is soft and flexible out of the box, and it connects to the lugs with curved spring-bars in order to offer a more integrated appearance with the case. Similarly, the Freelancer GMT’s strap is also fitted with the same style of double push-button deployant clasp, although it features an entirely high-polished finish to better compliment the glossy elements on the case. After wearing a couple of these straps around for a little while now, I would have personally preferred for them to have slightly less padding near the lugs and also be just a little bit shorter; however, they are still quite comfortable on the wrist and quite a bit better than what can be found on many other watches at similar or even more expensive price points.
In many ways, the new Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT could really be considered a line extension of the brand’s recently launched GMT Worldtimer; however, it’s important to note that nearly all of the components on the watch with the exception of a few basic things such as the movement, crystal, and gaskets are in some way different than what you get with either of the two worldtimer models. Whether they are different proportions, different colors, differently finished, or simply made from different materials, each part of the watch has been altered for the new GMT model, and the combined effect is a timepiece that offers many of the same core features and an identical profile on the wrist, while also simultaneously feeling quite a bit different than if it were just a dial variation or crafted from a different case material. Additionally, due to its slightly simplified design and plain stainless steel case, the new Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT is slightly less expensive than its worldtimer counterparts, and it is accompanied by an official retail price of $2,475 USD. While the duo of worldtimers offers a sporty and slightly utilitarian take on what can often be a rather resplendent style of wristwatch, the new Freelancer GMT almost takes the opposite approach, and it offers a refined rendition of what has historically been a fairly purpose-built category of timepieces. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.