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Glycine was founded in 1914 by the ingenious Eugène Meylan in Bienne, Switzerland. In the initial years of its founding, Glycine specialised in miniature movements, clad in precious metals and platinum cases for women. In the 1930s, Glycine launched its self-winding watches and chronometer watches. Today, Glycine is most well known for its Airman models, first launched in 1953. The Airman was the first watch to introduce multiple time zones.
The original Airman “The Chief” timepiece was made in 1956 for Türler, a large multi-store Swiss retailer of watches and jewelry. Glycine advertised them as “for the Navy.” Therefore, the watch’s nickname is seemingly derived from the US Navy grade of Chief Petty Officer. It has become extremely scarce, as only 25 watches were ever made.
|Glycine Airman “The Chief” Purist Blue Ref. GL0411
The Glycine Airman that we’re taking a look at today is one of the brand’s “purist” editions - which simply means there is no secondary GMT hand, and the hour hand completes one full oscillation every 24 hours. With a high-quality 316L stainless steel construction, the watch comprises a mixture of finishes - with satin-brushed finishing on the top of the lugs and bezel while the sides of the watch are high-polished.
With a 42mm case diameter, the watch has a lug-to-lug of 49mm and a thickness of 12.4mm. Despite its size being on the larger side, the Airman “The Chief” Purist Blue wears nicely on the wrist, thanks to the downwards-curving nature of its lugs. Therefore, it would suit most wrist sizes, including gentlemen with smaller wrists.
|Aged treated case that looks like its from yesteryears|
The dial features a 24-hour layout on the outermost edges and has printed baton-style indices at every even index, while a circular index is at every odd hour. Triangle indices are used at 12 and 6, seemingly for easy orientation. An arrow-head hour hand is used, coupled with a syringe-style minute hand. Lastly, a white date wheel can be found at 3, featuring the Glycine Airman’s famous red date font. All this information is expertly displayed on a beautiful sunburst blue dial. The dial will catch the light, allowing for terrific light play, and would even appear to change colour at different angles.
As mentioned earlier, this Glycine Airman “The Chief” is a purist edition, and thus it has no secondary GMT hand. When the hour hand is pointed downwards at 6, it’s currently noon, not 6pm! This is not the only unique feature of the timepiece. Glycine uses the 4 o’clock crown to keep the 24-hour stainless steel bezel in place. If you want to set the bezel, unscrewing the crown at four will allow you to rotate the bezel freely. Once you’re done, you can simply screw the crown back down, which will help keep the bezel in place.
|Bezel locking system done by the crown at 4|
The crown at 3 is the typical crown used for time and date setting. That push-pull crown combined with the screw-down caseback gives the watch 30m of water resistance, making the watch essentially splashproof. The indices and hands are also coated with Swiss Old Radium Superluminova, allowing dial readability in the dark. The timepiece is affixed with a piece of boxed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, protecting the dial and maintaining the watch's vintage charm. The anti-reflective coating also allows for excellent legibility even in harsh lighting conditions.
Powering the Glycine Airman “The Chief” Purist Blue Ref. GL0411 is the Glycine GL293 movement. It is essentially based on the Selita SW330 movement. It has 26 jewels, beats at 28,800 BPH, and a power reserve of 38 hours.
Glycine pairs the Airman “The Chief” Purist Blue on a 22mm brown leather strap. The strap has cream stitching on the edges and features quick-release springbars that will allow for easy strap change. It is also padded, matching the larger case size of the timepiece perfectly. A thin leather strap would make the watch wear top-heavy, resulting in an unpleasant wearing experience. The strap should break in over time, making it feel very comfortable on the wrist.
In conclusion, the Glycine Airman “The Chief” Purist Blue Ref. GL0411 is a timepiece that is a nod to Glycine’s terrific history. It maintains the vintage charm of a Glycine GMT watch whilst still packing modern-day benefits like a sapphire crystal and a modern Swiss movement. It has a unique 24-hour layout not found on most timepieces and would thus be the perfect addition to your ever-growing collection.