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Smaller watches are indeed getting back in style, and they’re here to stay. At a time where many watch brands are shaving a few millimeters off their timepieces to embrace the enchanting vintage size, dive watches don’t have to look like giant nautical clocks on the wrist anymore. Having said that, Glycine dropped a range of exciting new Airman models coming in a delicate 36mm form factor, the exact size from the first ever Airman back in 1953. Relish this new introduction with a splendor of this heritage design, a welcoming sapphire crystal upgrade and a reliable automatic movement packed full of Swiss-made goodness.
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 Vintage Pastel Blue Purist 36mm Ref. GL0489
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.
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 Vintage Pastel Blue Purist 36 Ref. GL0489 certainly holds a retrograde charm with its slim 11.6mm 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. Coming in a sweet 36mm diameter, a size that remains faithful to the exact case diameter of the original Airman back in 1953, this is one that will take you back to the golden day of wristwatches.
|Aged treated case that looks like its from yesteryears|
The steel 24-hour rotating bezel is the hallmark of the Glycine Airman Vintage Pastel Blue Purist 36 Ref. GL0489, holding great horological significance as the first ever bezel to house this feature. 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.
The Glycine Airman showcases a vivid dial in pastel blue, bringing out some fun without compromising 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.
|Bezel locking system done by the crown at 4|
While this release takes its form factor back to the yesteryears, the watch is equipped with a modern domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, illustrating the warm vintage look of an acrylic crystal while offering superior scratch resistance. The watch is supplied with a stunning 20mm white grained leather strap, complimenting the overall refreshing style.
Under the hood, the Glycine Airman Vintage Pastel Blue Purist 36 Ref. GL0489 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 Glycine Airman Vintage Pastel Blue Purist 36 Ref. GL0489 stays true to its roots as a functional pilot’s tool watch but with a refreshing pastel dial colour. The combination of the purpose-built design and its playful dial puts this watch high up the list for collectors who wants some fun while coveting 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.