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The Botta MONDO GMT Automatic can confidently be called a real “design piece”. But the new world time watch is only one component of the assortment of the German watch brand. Because at Botta, everything revolves around contemporary, functional design – what exactly lies behind the unconventional appearance is what this watch review is all about…
About the first single-hand watch, serenity and the reinvention of telling time
If I started this review directly with the unboxing of the new MONDO GMT, I don’t think I would do justice to the Botta brand. Because if you spend even five minutes looking into the company, its concept and history, you’ll quickly realize that time runs differently here. Botta makes timepieces that would be popularly referred to (in somewhat layman’s terms) as “designer watches.” At the retailer, the extravagant wristwatches stand out among all the divers and chronographs. Some of them have only one hand, no bezel functions and no sub-dials at all.
However, there is more behind them than just the will to be unconventional and different. Klaus Botta, founder and designer, has made it his goal to produce minimalist and functional wristwatches that enable a new approach to time. In 1986, the Uno laid the foundation for today’s success.
The first single-hand watch allowed for the first time an intuitive reading of the time as we know it, for example, from a meter. Even at first glance, you get a rough idea of the time, which can be made even more precise by taking a closer look. Thanks to its precise scale, it can be read off to within five minutes, and with a little practice it can even be read off to within 1 minute. Its strength, however, is undoubtedly its ability to keep track of time. The result: more serenity in everyday life. In times of discussions about a lack of work-life balance, this seems to be just the right thing. The concept has won highly endowed prizes and has meanwhile been copied and adapted many times.
Quality Made in Germany
Botta watches are developed in the idyllic town of Königstein near Frankfurt am Main. As premium products, they bear the Made in Germany seal, with movements sourced from Swiss manufacturers. For the precisely tuned Botta ecosystem, the company has even come up with its own concept for the structure of its product range. Here we are talking about the so-called “quadrology”. The single-hand watches are divided into 12- and 24-hour dials, and so are the multi-hand watches.
My test watch today, the MONDO GMT, is a multi-hand watch and has both displays due to the world time.
Time to unbox
I’m extremely curious to see how Botta has implemented the GMT theme. Especially here, it’s important that the various displays are uncomplicated, quickly readable and well coordinated. By the way – the self-proclaimed “world time manager” has only been on the market since this month and is therefore the newest model in the product range.
In advance, I was allowed to choose with which bracelet I may now wear the MONDO GMT Automatic. I chose the organic leather strap. The deciding factor was the question of how it differs from the conventional leather alternative. In addition, the structure looks good on my watch photography.
Botta put a lot of effort and work into the presentation. I am greeted with the prompt “Time to unbox” as I open the box. On an enclosed paper, all (design-)technical features of the MONDO GMT Automatic are explained at the same time. Underneath the watch box, in a double bottom, is the catalog of the current collection.
The black watch box contains another adjustment manual and finally, under a black microfiber cloth, the watch itself.
The Botta MONDO GMT Automatic on the wrist
I put the MONDO GMT on for the first time and examine the world time watch on my wrist. 45 millimeters in diameter is a statement – actually. Despite its size, the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic stands for understatement and doesn’t tend to be brute like many other timepieces of this size. But since you can get quite a lot of information from the dial (at least for a Botta), it also needs the size to offer flawless readability.
In addition, the height and weight are positively noticeable, where the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic saves. The flat height of just 9.5 millimeters is sporty, while the low weight of 64 grams is pleasantly light on the wrist. Both features improve the wearing comfort in everyday life immensely and embody, in my opinion, what a modern watch must be today. It quickly becomes clear why Klaus Botta describes the majority of timepieces as “conservative to backward-looking.”
Then there’s the matter of the famous Bauhaus design. Following the trend of the last few years, I’m sure everyone of us has had a timepiece on the wrist that claimed to be a Bauhaus watch. However, most of them recite the Bauhaus of 1919, but according to Botta, it contradicts the Bauhaus philosophy if the design is not contemporary. So according to that, you have to distinguish between a “watch in the spirit of the Bauhaus” and a “Bauhaus-of-the-20th-century homage watch.” The Botta MONDO GMT Automatic is without a doubt the former.
A titanium case
I’m still fascinated by the clean, distinctive design of the case, which I haven’t seen anywhere else like it. It’s best to take a look at the photos from the back. No we turn to the “technical” part. Botta consistently uses titanium for the case components of the MONDO GMT Automatic. Compared to conventional stainless steel, this high-tech material actually has only advantages. With its hardness, durability and low weight, it is clearly the smarter choice. So why do watch companies still primarily use stainless steel? For reasons of tradition and cost, as well as appearance. But that would not be the Botta way. That case finish is excellent. The Botta MONDO GMT Automatic presents itself on a premium level and delivers what it promises in this respect.
The two-part dial is covered by high-quality sapphire crystal, which is domed. Praise goes to the anti-reflective coating on both sides. This guarantees a much clearer view of the dial and gives the wristwatch a more premium look. The Botta MONDO GMT Automatic is water resistant to 5 bar or 50 meters of water. So you’d better not get the idea of diving with this watch.
German case meets Swiss movement
Although Botta’s focus was to keep the world time watch very functional, the attention to detail and craftsmanship is not neglected here and there. On the back, they didn’t miss the opportunity to include a viewing window in the caseback. A ‘necessary’ function does not benefit the glass caseback; however, it simply looks good! The automatic movement from ETA inside the case has got a rotor, which is decorated by the MONDO logo and two other engravings. One engraving marks that this is the so-called Pioneer Edition, while the other indicates the serial number. In fact, the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic is limited to only 12 pieces. The Mondo GMT Automatic is generally not limited – only the first 12 pieces (called Pioneer Edition) are limited to 12 pieces. All other watches are unlimited.
So as an owner of this GMT watch, you can rightfully claim to wear a speciality on your wrist!
The ETA 2893-2 is Swiss made, but was modified and adjusted to a higher accuracy before it was installed in the MONDO GMT.
Dial and bracelet in detail
The design of the display concept of the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic takes over from the models with 24-hour display. This makes sense, since it is needed for the GMT display. Basically, it is therefore divided into a “day and night half”, marked by the different shades of gray. Within 24 hours, the GMT hand moves with the orange marker along the indices, which are also orange. Separated by color is the 12-hour display, which is used to measure the local time. For frequent travelers, the dual time zones are a handy gimmick that allows you to keep track of the times of your current location and home. In terms of design, Botta has implemented the concept extremely well.
Botta leaves the customer spoiled for choice, offering six different wristbands. I opted for the organic leather bracelet, which differs from conventional leather due to its coarser structure. With the titanium case, it is an unbeatable combination, especially for allergy sufferers. Both materials are very gentle on the skin. The wearing comfort during my test period was convincing. In addition, I noticed several times how tailor-made the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic sits on the wrist. This is also due to the ergonomic shape of the lugs.
Alternatively, you can order a normal leather strap, a saddle leather strap, a rubber strap, a Milanaise bracelet or an alternative made of stainless steel.
My conclusion about the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic
GMT watches are made for people who want or need to travel a lot. There are more and more of them in our globalized world. Probably a reason why GMT watches are more popular than ever before and pretty much every established watch brand has a watch of this type in its assortment. Visually, the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic is one of the most functional and understated. Its design is almost exclusively purpose-driven. Exciting features for their own sake are not found here. In the hectic everyday life between meetings and mails, this is just what I need.
Botta can also convince me all around with quality. Sapphire crystal, titanium, organic leather, what more could you want? The materials used are impeccably crafted.
So is the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic the perfect world time watch? At the very least, it can be counted among the most functional and pragmatic of all. Ultimately, however, a watch purchase is always an emotional matter in which subjective taste plays a major role. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether the unusual design approach appeals to them.
On the organic leather strap, the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic costs 1960,- euros. If you can do without the automatic movement, you can choose the quartz alternative. All important links can be found below.