Glycine (founded in 1914) introduced a multiple time zone watch in 1953, the Glycine Airman. These watches were meant to be for travelers and pilots that needed a watch that enabled them to read two different time zones. Through all these years, the Airman watch was never absent from the Glycine collection, but it changed a bit every once in a while. Purists will swear by the original vintage Airman model (nicked ‘Old Airman’) that was in production from 1953 till 1973. This model was embraced by the military (chopper) pilots during the Vietnam War with its useful second time zone and AM/PM indicator. The first models had a Felsa caliber 692 movement and were succeeded by an A.Schild movement in 1960.
Glycine introduces a successor that comes very close to these first ‘Old Airman’ models, the Airman Base 22. Base stands for air-base or a military air field and the 22 stands for the 22nd generation of Airman Watches, which this watch is. Katherina Brechbuehler, CEO of Glycine Watch SA revealed that the watch was something collectors of Airman Watches had been longing for ever since the original Airman was succeeded by more modern versions.
The Airman Base 22 is available in three versions. Besides the basic version, the second is the GA-version that allows the owner to change the time zone on the main hour hand, capable of displaying three time zones.
Third version is a GMT version with 3 time zones and red GMT hand. Just like the GA version, it is capable of showing three time zones, but the movement will stop when setting the hour hand.
The most interesting model is the purist’s version, the one that resonates the most with the original 24 hour display and two time zones. Glycine introduced these models in both black and white dial versions. Although black dials seems to be more popular, the white dial version is a tribute to the first Airman ever, which actually had a white dial. These timepieces have a price tag of 1800 CHF / 1260 Euro (add 100 CHF for a stainless steel bracelet) which makes them even more interesting to the watch aficionado. With all the 10.000+ Euro watches introduced during the Basel World Exhibition characterised by unquestionable quality and hype, it is undoubtedly refreshing that a true cult watch like the Glycine Airman Base 22 has a normal price tag.
The tan soft leather calf strap with the embossed Airman logo is genuinely soft this is probably because Since the lugs are shaped downwards and the height of the watch is only 11.2mm, the 42mm watch case is very comfortable, even with normal sized wrists.
The movement inside is an ETA2893-2, based on the famous ETA2892-A2 but with an extra time zone feature. This movement has been used in a lot of other watches as well, such as the (out of production) Omega Seamaster Professional GMT (also both available in white and black dial) and recent year’s introduced Linde Werdelin 3-Timer. The difference between the 3-Timer and the Airman for example, is that with the 3-Timer you can’t set the normal hour hand separately from the minute hand to a different time zone and only use the 24-hour hand to another time zone. The Airman is capable of setting the regular hour hand to a different time zone (since this is the 24-hour hand), using the other one for home time.
The Glycine Airman 22, at its price level makes the ideal traveler’s watch as long as one doesn’t mind the 24-hour dial. The finish on the case is extremely classy, with both polished and brushed parts, the ETA movement is sturdy and has proven itself over time. One has the option of picking either the tan leather strap and a black dial or the white dial, since the respective combination makes the dial stand out and gives the watch a bit of a vintage look. The cult status of this watch is historical and it was only recently that a book was published on the Airman by subject matter expert and fellow Dutchman Ander Stikkers. A 132 page book filled with useful information about the history of the Airman, the Glycine Airman collection over the years and how to identify the fake models that are being offered.
The first Airman was developed and introduced to the market in 1953, becoming one of the real pioneers of Swiss aviator watches till today.
The Airman Base 22 watches you see with four hands are GMT's, the ones with only the normal three hands are purist. Worth to know is that the hour hand on a GMT goes round in 12 hours, like on a normal watch. On a purist version the hour hand goes round in 24 hour - a pure 24 hour watch, there from the purist name.
I am trying understand the difference between purist and gmt. (Glycine airman base 22)
can you be of assistance?
Thank you JC Harvey
by Jeffrey Harvey
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