Glycine might hold the award for having the most famous watch you rarely hear about, but hopefully that will change. The Glycine Airman line has been around, in one form or another, since 1953. It’s a true pilot’s pilot watch, designed in response to the needs of actual pilots. The original featured 24-hour time and a lockable 24-hr bezel, allowing you to track two timezones with ease. The aesthetic of the Airman has always stood out to me as being of particular interest. It’s purposeful but elegant, balancing a ton of information in a small space. It’s a true icon, yet despite there being a seemingly never ending stream of pilot’s watches, none have copied the look of Airman.
In the last few years, in response to the growing trend of vintage re-editions in the market, Glycine has put a focus on the history of the Airman. They must have seen some success with these models as recently, they released three new watches, two of which are variations on the classic design, and one that is a faithful recreation of the original.
AIRMAN No. 1
The Airman No. 1 is the closest you can get to the original 1953 Airman without doing some serious vintage hunting. Everything is based closely on the original, and in a brave move, they’ve even kept the 36mm case size. That’s clearly very small for a modern pilot’s watch, and also small for a watch with a bezel, but it’s awesome that Glycine has gone for it, allowing people to experience the watch as it was intended.
The Airman No. 1 is available in “purist” or GMT format, which means with a 3-hand 24-hr dial for two timezones or a 4-hand 24-hr dial for 3-timezones. Keeping with the original details, the No. 1 also sports a domed acrylic crystal. $2,600
The DC-4 pays tribute not just to the 1953 Airman, but also to the plane it was conceived on, the Douglas DC-4, which was a popular aircraft used as a transport in WWII and as an airliner into the 60’s. In this watch, they went back to modern proportions at 42mm case with a sapphire crystal (with cyclops!), but kept a distinctly vintage, military aesthetic for the dial. The numerals all face up-right, the 24-hour index is cleverly tucked away not over crowding anything, and there is a pronounced minutes/seconds railroad index.
On the dial surface, they kept the “AM” and “PM” of the ’53 at 3 and 9 respectively, for use with the 24hr dial, or if the GMT hand is kept on local time. They also swapped out the hands for dauphine styled ones. The overall look and feel is a hybrid of the Airman and a vintage field watch… and while I’m not sure I see much of the DC-4 in there, I have to say, I really like the watch as whole.
Pricing TBA, but safe to say at least $2k
AIRMAN “DOUBLE TWELVE”
A signature of the Airman has always been the 24-hr dial, which takes a special movement (these days supplied by ETA). If not the 24-hr, then they had 12-hr plus GMT, likely powered by the ETA 2893-2. Either version would be accompanied by a 24-bezel. Well, the Double Twelve, for the first time in Airman history, uses just a 3-hand 12-hour movement and a 12-hour bezel, giving you classic, simple two time-zone tracking. The goal of which is seemingly to make a less intimidating model for a more casual customer.
But, in simplifying, they created something quite attractive. Using a 40mm case, it’s a pleasant medium size, and the dial, while hinting at the classic design, has an almost Bauhaus feel to it. The hands have been swapped for a fat syringes that work surprisingly well and give the watch a bit more of an aggressive look. The 12-hour bezel, which is very easy to use for tracking a second timezone, keeps the look of the original as well the locking crown at 4.
Price is TBA but the release says that its “much lower price will make this model attractive for new entrants to the market“, which piques my interest for sure. One of the reasons why I think Glycine goes under the radar is because they out price a lot of consumers, yet are not priced or marketed to compete with higher end brands. As such, they are sort of in the middle. Having a lower priced option could really help them gain some popularity.
The “Double Twelve” features sapphire crystals front and back, and what is likely an ETA 2824-2. It will be available with black, red or blue dials.