It’s been sometime since we’ve discussed a blacked out watch. And the reason is probably obvious…it’s sort of a gimmick. Yeah, blacked out or phantom watches, can be pretty badass looking. The mix of a matte PVD case, black hands and a predominantly black dial can turn any watch from friendly wrist accompaniment into something sinister and covert. However, more often than not, they are overdone and cheesy. Too much black makes the watch visually dense, and actually stand out more in an outfit or on the wrist. Perhaps that’s the goal, but to us at w&w, a good watch fits in with one’s style, it does not overtake it.
The new Glycine Airman Base 22 Mystery demonstrates how taste and good design can come together to make a blacked out watch with style to spare. The locking all steel bezel looks positively mean in PVD, revealing triangular markers and numerals through grey etched surfaces. Moving into the 24-hr dial, the finesse of this design becomes clearer. The dial itself is a dark matte charcoal grey, rather than black, with steely blue numerals, except for 24 and 12, which are light grey. Studding the dial is a mix of rectangular and circular grey markers that appear to be applied lume. The hour, minute and seconds hands are gloss jet black with grey lume, making them contrast the dial nicely. For a sharp and visually exciting contrast, the GMT hand is presented in a bold cherry red. They complete the design with a black nylon NATO with PVD hardware, the obvious and correct strap for this watch.
The whole thing comes together to be a symphony of grey and black with subtle hints of color. Given the military history of the Airman watches, it’s great to see that they used the blacked out trend to make a functional tactical watch, rather than a watch that is just fashion. The watch costs about $2,350, which is pretty steep, though it is priced on the lower side for a Glycine Airman. Practically speaking, the watch has a lot of history, known quality and a 24-hr ETA 2893 GMT movement. Personally, I see the Glycine Airman Base 22 Mystery as a great example of successful design more than a watch I’d start saving for, but if your pockets are a bit deeper than mine, and you are looking for something dark, mysterious, gnarly looking but still a good functional watch, the Mystery seems like a great choice.