12 Best Glycine Airman Watches for the World Traveller

Jul 01, 2020
12 Best Glycine Airman Watches for the World Traveller

Going through Glycine’s catalogue feels like looking at a single watch in different costumes. You would realise that their marketing efforts focus on a single collection — the Glycine Airman. But this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, this is what makes the company stand out. You see, by dedicating their time to only one thing, they were able to bring out the best in it.

After decades of research and consultations with pilots, the evolution of this aviation watch continues. Find out what makes the watch perfect for globetrotters by reading our primer below.

Glycine Headquearters, Glycine Airman
Glycine Headquarters. Photo from Glycine

History of the Glycine Airman

It all started when Eugene Meylan founded Glycine in 1914. Back then, they were known for making small movements for women’s watches. But when the 1930s came, the company started branching out into making watches that were self-winding and chronometer-rated.

After more than a decade, Charles Hertig Sr. decided to buy the company. It was during his term when the watch company produced their claim to fame — the Glycine Airman.

Taking Flight

During the 1950s, the aviation industry was developing, and demand for pilot watches was increasing. Consequently, new aviation timepiece models started to sprout here and there. Case in point: Cartier had the Santos Dumont, Breitling released the Navitimer, and Rolex introduced the GMT.

As luck would have it, Samuel Glur, a friend of Charles Hertig, got to speak with a pilot during one of his flights. The captain said that he needed a watch that has a 24-hour dial with centralised hour, minute and second hands with a rotating 24-hour bezel. With this in mind, he wrote to Glur about his conversation with the captain, thus starting a new project based on the captain’s needs.

The first Glycine Airman
The first Glycine Airman. Photo from Timepiece Chronicle, courtesy of Andre Stikkers and Betsy Dougherty

The AM/PM

In 1953, the Glycine Airman was introduced. However, it was first known as the AM/PM. What made this watch unique is its pure 24-hour format. To explain, instead of displaying the hours 1-12, it displayed up to 24. In other words, the hour hand makes only one full cycle across the dial the whole day.

Its name came from the printed “AM” and “PM” on the dial to indicate the time of the day easily. Aside from those two words, it also bears the text “noon” at the very bottom. These texts were meant to make it easier to read the time. Indeed, switching between the two formats can be confusing at first.

Apart from the format, the Airman also featured a bezel with a locking mechanism. And if you would notice, the watch has two crowns. The extra crown placed at the 4 o’clock position locks the bezel in place. This prevents adjustments from accidental bumps on the bezel.

Best Glycine Airman Models

As the years went by, Glycine focused on improving the Airman. Consequently, they were able to make a lot of different models. Read on to find out which Glycine Airman model is the best for you.

Glycine Airman 42 World Timer GL0065

1. Glycine Airman 42 World Timer GL0065

Why is it good?

The Airman 42 World Timer GL0065 is a necessity for the globetrotter. Indeed, its GMT movement allows the wearer to track two time zones at once. One for the local time and one for the home time.

When it comes to durability, the watch’s stainless steel material can handle a few bumps along the way. Apart from that, its domed sapphire crystal has three layers of anti-reflective coating on the underside. Its Jubilee-style bracelet is made from steel as well and is very comfortable to wear. Comfort is, after all, a top priority for travelling since you’re expected to wear the watch for hours.

Beneath its dial is the GL293 Swiss automatic movement. It is based on the Sellita 330-1, has a total of 25 jewels and can power the watch up to 42 hours when fully wound. Furthermore, the movement has features such as a hacking movement and hand-winding. All in all, this calibre is a reliable workhorse that is more than enough for your everyday needs.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Glycine Airman 40 No. 1 GL0164

2. Glycine Airman 40 No. 1 GL0164

Why is it good?

The Glycine Airman 40 No. 1 GL0164 is the faithful reissue of the very first edition of the Airman. Needless to say, the resemblance is uncanny. In fact, a lot of people would mistake it for the real first edition.

At first glance, the dial has an authentic-looking patina colour, which makes it look older than it actually is. Additionally, it uses the same serif font that its ancestors used. To complete the look, it has a polished stainless steel bezel reminiscent of watches from the ’50s.

Meanwhile, it has two crowns instead of the usual one. And you can see them at the 4 and 3 o’clock positions. The one at 3 o’clock is the normal crown used for adjusting the time. On the flip side, the one beside 4 o’clock is used to lock the bezel in place.

To conclude, this model is perfect for those who are intrigued by the history of the Airman. Indeed, this is the closest thing you can get to its very first model. And it’s a guarantee that your friends will believe you when you say that it’s from the ’50s.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 40mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Glycine Airman Base 22 Purist GL0211

3. Glycine Airman Base 22 Purist GL0211

Why is it good?

The Glycine Airman Base 22 Purist GL0211 offers a “murdered out” look of the famous GMT watch. Additionally, it is one of the most recent offerings of the brand, which explains its modern aesthetic.

Its GMT bezel comes in a brownish hue that gives a lot of visual interest. Meanwhile, the dial comes in black with red and white accents. And if you look closely, it is divided into two in a vertical manner. To explain, the left part is matte while the right one has a frosted finish. This is used to subtly indicate the day (right side) and night (left side) of the GMT timer.

And if you would notice, the watch is a pure 24-hour watch. What that means is that the hour hand sweeps the whole dial only once per day. To illustrate, the hour hand should be pointing at the bottom (where the 6 o’clock should be) during noon. This might take a little bit of getting used to, but a lot of pilots find this feature useful. It lets you know in a glance if it is in the AM or PM.

Adding to its sportiness is the NATO mil-spec bracelet. Apart from its military history, there is no denying that these bracelets are very comfortable to wear. Which makes this a very suitable model for those who are always on the go.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Water resistance: 200m

Glycine Airman 18 GMT Automatic World Timer GL0229

4. Glycine Airman 18 GMT Automatic World Timer GL0229

Why is it good?

If you love the idea of a pure 24-hour watch but want a more classic look, this one’s for you. The Airman 18 GMT Automatic World Timer GL0229 works very similarly to the previous watch. However, you can wear this one during more formal occasions.

As usual, the dial comes in a matte black colour. But what makes it unique is its rose gold accents. The logo, the bezel markers, and the minute markers are printed in the elegant colour. Meanwhile, the hands come in a yellow-gold hue.

Apart from the colour scheme, the watch is also smaller at only 39mm. Indeed, smaller watches are more appropriate with suits and blazers. In addition to that, it also comes with a brown leather strap. The leather strap is aged and has a cream stitching which makes it stand out.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 39mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Water resistance: 200m

Glycine Airman 46 GL0170

5. Glycine Airman 46 GL0170

Why is it good?

Another all-black timepiece is the Airman 46 GL0170. Its stealthy looks will capture the attention of people who want a more modern look. The bezel, dial, strap, and even the hands are in matte black.

Despite being monochrome, the dial is surprisingly legible. Its Arabic hour markers, as well as the minute markers, come in a contrasting white and light grey. Moreover, the small date window beside 3 o’clock is unobtrusive and barely noticeable. In fact, it blends in well with the minute markers.

Like most of the Airman models, it uses the GL293 Swiss automatic movement. This is a 25-jewel calibre that runs at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. What’s more interesting is that its rotor is decorated to fit the Airman theme. This can be seen through the mineral glass at the caseback.

To complete the look, it comes with a calf leather strap. And if you look closely, it features subtle carbon fibre patterns to make it visually interesting. Overall, this blacked-out model is great for the classy gentleman who likes a toned down watch.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 46mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Glycine Airman 42 GL0142

6. Glycine Airman 42 GL0142

Why is it good?

Perhaps the Airman 42 GL0142 is the most playful model among the bunch. Indeed, this is the type of watch that you will be wearing on a Sunday cook-out with your friends or family.

Its strap and case come in a classic black. Even its caseback is made with smoked glass to match the stealthy, blacked-out aesthetic. However, the dial is quite the opposite. 

While the rest of the watch is toned down, this one calls for attention. Its dial is fully-lumed with SuperLuminova. That means that the whole dial glows in the dark. An interesting detail because normally, only the hour markers and hands have the lume.

Performance-wise, it uses the GL 293 automatic movement. It operates at 28,800bph and has both winding and hacking features. Overall, this watch will prove to be a reliable companion for the years to come.

 Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 38 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Glycine Airman 44 Bronze GL0167

7. Glycine Airman 44 Bronze GL0167

Why is it good?

The Airman 44 Bronze GL0167 has a bold colour scheme. Truly, the light blue and bronze combination is unique and will surely make heads turn.

Its dial is made out of a gradient dark blue. From the top, the shade is closer to black. And as it goes down, it gradually becomes lighter. Meanwhile, its hour markers and logo are all printed in bronze. Likewise, its hands come in the same colour, which makes the whole watch look elegant.

Performance-wise, it uses the Sellita-based GL 293 movement. It features both a hacking and manual winding system. In fact, it is very identical to the ETA 2893-2 calibre. Only, this is modified to make the hour hand slow down by 50%. This is how the watch achieves the pure 24-hour timer. In conclusion, the calibre runs smoothly and keeps precise and accurate time.

Despite being unique, its colour pairing turns out to be a very fascinating look. This is ideal for people who love standing out and for those who are into retro-looking watches.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 44mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Glycine Airman DC 4 GL0072

8. Glycine Airman DC 4 GL0072

Why is it good?

The Airman DC 4 GL0072 is often considered as a vintage and purist watch. Vintage because it draws inspiration from the original Airman and purist because it stays true to its 24-hour timer. With that said, this model appeals to a lot of vintage watch enthusiasts.

Looking closely, its bezel comes in a shiny steel finish while the bezel markers are printed in black. Meanwhile, the dial comes in a classic matte black. Furthermore, its Arabic hour markers contrast it well with a white font colour, making it easy to read the time.

At the 3 o’clock position is a small date window. And above it is a magnifying glass that looks a lot like Rolex’s cyclops. In fact, from afar, the whole watch slightly resembles the Explorer II.

Finally, in the middle part of the dial are the letters “PM” on the left side and “AM” on the right. This is used to indicate if the current time is in the morning or evening. Because as mentioned above, the watch is purely a 24-hour timer.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Water resistance: 200m

Glycine Airman 42 Double Twelve GL0175

9. Glycine Airman 42 Double Twelve GL0175

Why is it good?

A lot of Airman watches are considered as a true pilot’s watch. Meaning, they have 24-hour dials that can tell the time of different time zones. However, the Double Twelve is different. As its name suggests, the Airman 42 Double Twelve GL0175 offers two 12-hour markers. One on the dial and the other on the bezel.

Its dial comes in a gradient blue colour. From dark blue at the top, it slowly turns into a lighter one as you go to the bottom. I believe that a lot of people call this the “degrade-style” dial. Meanwhile, the Arabic numeral hour markers come in white, making good contrast against the background.

The calibre used inside is called the GL 224, which is based on the ETA 2824 automatic movement. With that said, it runs at a frequency of 28,800bph and can power the watch for up to 38 hours when fully wound. Additionally, it also has the hand-winding and hacking features that you can find on the other Airman models.

This model is ideal for people who love the Airman but want the classic look of a 12-hour watch. Or for those who often get confused with the 24-hour format. Rest assured, this variant has the design cues of the original Airman that you have come to love.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 42mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 38 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Glycine Airwoman 36 GL0172

10. Glycine Airwoman 36 GL0172

Why is it good?

Guessing from its name, the Airwoman 36 GL0172 is something for the ladies. It comes at a smaller size of 36mm which will fit better on smaller wrists. Apart from that, this model is a lot more elegant compared to the others.

Much of its elegance comes from its colour. Its stainless steel case and bracelet are PVD coated with yellow gold. Apart from that, the dial itself also comes in a gilt finish.

Despite its refined exterior, this watch is as durable and accurate as the rest of the crew. In fact, it uses the GL 224 Swiss automatic movement. To explain further, this calibre has a total of 25 jewels and runs at a frequency of 28,800bph. It is considered as a reliable movement for everyday wear.

In conclusion, this watch is ideal for people who need a classier version of the Airman. This can also serve as an affordable alternative to a gold Rolex Day Date due to its size and colour.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 36mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 38 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Glycine Airwoman 36 GL0182

11. Glycine Airwoman 36 GL0182

Why is it good?

Here’s another model for the ladies. The Airwoman 36 GL0182 is a lot like the previous watch. However, this one is more toned down as it doesn’t have the all-gold finish of the GL0172. Instead, only its bezel and hands are PVD coated.

The dial is white with a subtle pattern that resembles a mother of pearl. In my opinion, this small detail adds much elegance to the overall look of the watch. To add to that, it is fitted with a black calf leather strap. Its combination with the gold dial makes it ideal for more formal occasions.

Like the other models, this one is equipped with an accurate movement called the GL 224. Its rotor is Glycine-decorated and can be seen through the mineral glass at the caseback.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 36mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 38 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Glycine Airman Vintage The Chief GL0250

12. Glycine Airman Vintage The Chief GL0250

Why is it good?

The Airman Vintage The Chief GL0250 will catch the attention of retro lovers. Just one look at it and you’ll know that it will go well with your vintage-inspired collection.

The details on the dial and bezel are very impressive. Both the case and bezel are made with stainless steel. But to make them stand out, it has what Glycine calls the “used gunmetal style” coating. This coating gives the watch a rusty appearance that appeals to a lot of people. Meanwhile, the dial comes in a dirty white hue that matches the whole look.

Inside this model is the GL 293 Swiss automatic movement which is based on the ETA 2893-2. It features 25 jewels, 42 hours of power reserve, and a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. In fact, a lot of the Airman models use this calibre due to its accuracy and reliability.

Furthermore, the light brown leather strap is like the icing on the cake. It blends in well with the bezel’s finish as well as the off-white colour scheme of the dial.

Specs:

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 40mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Final Notes

By becoming a master of one, Glycine was able to bring out the Airman’s full potential. Not only did Glycine accomplish the feat of being the first 24-hour format watch, but they also kept the ball rolling. Indeed, up to this day, the Airman is a watch that’s worth your attention.

 

In the mood for another vintage watch? Check out our guide on the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms!

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