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The 1950s was dubbed the Golden Age of Flying when commercial air travel was in its early days with limitless booze and a thick stench of cigarette smoke filling the plane. Having lobster was the norm for an in-flight meal. Oh, those were the good old days. Alongside the massive boom of the aviation industry, wristwatches inspired by aviation were also flourishing in that era. Legendary watches such as the Breitling Navitimer and the Zodiac Sea Wolf GMT were later introduced with the advent of transcontinental travel.
|Glycine Airman 40 No1 Black Purist - Ltd Ed 1000pcs - Ref. GL0163|
While there are many big names that manufacture aviation-inspired timepieces today, the Swiss watch manufacturer Glycine was the first to produce a watch with a 24-hour rotating bezel, the Glycine Airman, in 1953. The birth of this historic timepiece resulted from a conversation that sparked between one of Glycine’s employees, Samuel Glur, and a pilot during one of his flights. The pilot expressed his interest in a watch that had a 24-hour bezel feature, a function much needed by pilots to track multiple time zones. This was a feature that became well known around the watch world with the release of Rolex’s GMT-Master a year later in 1954.
|Based on the 1953 original Airman No. 1|
Glycine released a modern interpretation of their first-ever Airman carrying its distinct features and iconic design. Encased in a 316L stainless steel case, the Glycine Airman No. 1 Black Purist Ref. GL0163 certainly holds a retrograde charm with its slim 12mm case and slender lugs. With more than a century of experience producing fine Swiss watches, Glycine’s watchmaking expertise is reflected in the immaculate finishing on the Airman, done entirely by hand. The top of the lugs is skillfully finished with fine satin brushing, contrasting with the high polish at the side of the case. The watch wears well on the wrist with a sweet 40mm diameter. Although larger than the original 36mm, the contemporary size is perfect for the modern gentleman.
|Domed acrylic crystal for the vintage charm|
The Airman No. 1 Black Purist Ref. GL0163 showcases a matte black dial that focuses solely on functionality, harking back to many elements of the original. This iteration of the Airman is the horologically accurate ‘Purist’ variation, suggesting it being a pure 24-hour watch with the hour hand only sweeping once per day around the 24-hour track on the outer edges of the dial. The highly domed acrylic crystal that protects the dial definitely screams vintage, embracing the gorgeous 50s charm. While it may pick up scratches more easily compared to tougher crystals used today, light scratches could be buffed out easily without worries. The watch is supplied with a stunning 22mm black grained leather strap, complimenting the overall vintage style.
|Bezel locking system done by the crown at 4|
The steel 24-hour rotating bezel is the hallmark of the Airman No. 1 Black Purist Ref. GL0163, holding great horological significance as the first ever bezel to house this feature (Yes, it is literally number 1 as the name suggests). At the 4 o’clock position, the locking mechanism holds the bezel in place, preventing accidental movements that may move the bezel out of place - a simple and extremely useful function from the 50s that works flawlessly even today.
Under the hood, the Airman No. 1 Black Purist Ref. GL0163 runs on Glycine’s Cal. GL293 Swiss automatic movement. Based on the ETA 2893-2/SW330, this 25/26 jewel movement is renowned for its reliability as a ‘workhorse’ movement with a 4Hz beat rate of 28,800 BPH and a healthy power reserve of 42 hours.
Without a doubt, the Airman No. 1 Black Purist Ref. GL0163 stays true to its roots as a functional pilot’s tool watch. The combination of the purpose-built design and its exceptional value puts this watch high up the list when it comes to selecting an aviation timepiece at this price point. Whether you are up in the sky as a pilot, or rocking this piece to the office, the Airman brings a little piece of history on your wrist that will look incredibly timeless for many years to come.