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Glycine Watches: Past, Present and Promising Future

6 min read February 03, 2023

Glycine-Airman-SST-Pumpkin-GL0309 image by watchboysg

Remember that feeling when you're going through a large pile of stuff and stumble upon that one item that immediately grabs your attention? Then you do some research and discover that, in fact, you found a long-lost hidden treasure. That's the feeling you'll experience once you finish reading this piece on Glycine watches.

Why is that so? The analogy is simple: although less familiar to most watch lovers, Glycine is a true gem in the highly competitive under 1K USD category. Let's go into details that second that.


An insight into the history of Glycine watches

Eugene Meylan, the founder of Glycine Watch Company

The Glycine watch story began as early as 1914. Eugene Meylan founded the company in Bienne, Switzerland. Just like many other Swiss watchmakers of the time, they started small and gradually made their name relying on quality and originality.

Glycine watches made their debut by crafting unique mechanisms for women's watches. However, things started to change in 1930 with their invention of an automatic E.M.S.A. (Eugène Meylan Société Anonyme) module for watches. That infamous patent made it possible for Glycine to manufacture their first automatic models and chronograph watches later on.

Some of the first Glycine watches were made of titanium and gold, and they made their name among lovers of quality-made luxurious watches. They managed to survive the turbulent years of WW II and its aftermath period. Glycine made another breakthrough in 1953 when the Glycine Airman watch saw the light of day.

The next couple of decades, until the mid-80s, were by all means the most prolific ones in the history of Glycine. Their models gained worldwide recognition, such as the Tjalk, Glycine Amaranth, and Glycine watches combat series, to name just a few. In addition, Glycine watches made notable appearances in historical events and secured Glycine watches a well-deserved spot among the renowned companies of their kind.

The end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century were again fruitful decades for Glycine. They boldly stepped into the production of large-diameter watches and introduced several new series, including Incursore, KMU, Lagunare, and Altus Chronograph.

GLYCINE ALTUS Tonneau Chronograph 3811

GLYCINE ALTUS Tonneau Chronograph 3811

GLYCINE Lagunare Automatic L1000

GLYCINE Lagunare Automatic L1000

Glycine Incursore

Glycine Incursore

Glycine KMU-48

Glycine KMU-48

During its more than a century-long existence and production, Glycine has always been about innovation, constantly improving its current offer and implementing new solutions and ideas. Apart from designing a series of different models, Glycine engineers always gave great thought to the calibers they used.

They solely relied on their own movements until 1942; some developed as late as 1966. The most notable calibers they have been using are Glycine Caliber GL293 and Glycine Caliber GL224. The former is synonymous with the majority of Glycine Airman watches. At the same time, the latter is the powerhouse behind many Glycine watches Combat and Glycine watches Combat Sub models. Other notable calibers that can be found in Glycine watches are Glycine GL293 and GL 754.

Glycine Caliber GL224 is the powerhouse behind many Glycine Combat and Combat Sub models.

Glycine Caliber GL224 is the powerhouse behind many Glycine Combat and Combat Sub models.

Glycine has gone through 8 different ownerships. Since 2016, the company has been owned by the Invicta watch group, promising a new start and implementation of fresh ideas in the years to come.

Now, let's touch base with two notable Glycine watch series that have been making an impact for quite some time now.


Glycine Airman watches

The first watch the majority of those familiar with the Glycine brand think of when asked to name one of their watches is one from the Airman family. That's also the most prominent search result when you Google Glycine watches. All for a good reason.

The first Glycine Airman watch was introduced in 1953. It was a period when commercial air travel gained momentum. Airman came due to a recognized need for a 24h dial watch that could display two-hour zones, GMT plus local zone. A requirement comes primarily from the Airman and pilots, but also their frequent passengers.

Vintage Glycine Airman 1965

Vintage Glycine Airman, 1965

And it was an immediate success. But not one of those hip today, gone tomorrow kind of hits. In the next 25 years, the Airman model 1 was produced in 18 different models and remained one of the most sought-after Glycine watches.

The second generation, the Airman SST, was designed in association with USAF pilots. It was manufactured from 1967 to 1978. Although also successful, it has yet to reach the popularity of the Airman 1 model.

Charles Conrad wore Glycine Airman during on Gemini 5 missions in 1965

Left - Charles Conrad wore Glycine Airman during on Gemini 5 missions in 1965 along with an Omega Speedmaster. NASA Photo No. S65-51442 | GRIN DataBase No. GPN-2000-001494 - Gemini 5: 29 August 1965

Four more generations of Airman followed, with several special editions and unique collector's items. The series has been in constant production and demand since its premiere in 1953. One of the special moments in Airman's rich history is that it was worn by the astronaut Charles Conrad on Gemini 5 and Apollo 12 missions in 1965 and 1969. A recognition and honor only exceptional watches receive.


Glycine Combat watches

Flying on the success of their Airman collection during its 1960s golden era, the Glycine team decided it was time to honor the land troopers. So the idea was put in motion, resulting in their second most successful family: the Glycine watches Combat series.

The premier model came out in 1967. Featuring a new crown logo, it came with new mechanical and design features that differentiated it from the Airman series. The EPSA air-tight compressor case and superluminova indices are the most notable ones.

The crown logo & Glycine Combat

The crown logo on Glycine Combat

Relying on the same seconds hacking mechanism and diligent automatic chronograph movement as its older Airman brothers while being sturdy and featuring a classic design simultaneously, the Combat series was promising from the very start.

And it has become the most fruitful series Glycine has made so far. Combat series contains four sub-series: Classic, Sub, Sub Sport, and Vintage. In total, the Combat series feature more than a hundred models.

Glycine Combat classic and Glycine Vintage watches from the Combat family best appeal to those who love blending sporty and elegant styles. On the other hand, Sub and Sub sports watches, being more diving and sport style oriented, have reserved a spot among casual divers and water sports lovers. Although relatively new on the market, these divers have quickly become one of Glycine's most sought-after watches.

Two Glycine Combat SUB, left GL0269 and right GL0249

Two Glycine Combat SUB, left GL0269 and right GL0249

They have got everything right with the two Sub series. Reliability, sturdiness, 10.5mm case – ultra-thin for a diver, and affordability. Taking all that into account, could it be that the Airman collection will be surpassed in popularity? According to the Glycine watches reviews covering the entire Combat collection, particularly the Sub models, it could very well be confirmed soon.


Frequently asked questions about Glycine

Given the number of ownerships being changed and the latest acquisition by Invicta, the following questions became frequently asked. Here are the updated answers to all of them.

  • Where are Glycine Airman watches made?
    In Glycine factory in Bienne, Switzerland, since day one. That goes for all Glycine collections and models.
  • How much is Glycine?
    The vast majority of Glycine watches belong to a sub $1k category. However, some notable and sought-after models, particularly those belonging to the vintage category, go above that limit. Still, there are those that can be purchased for around $200.
  • Is Glycine a luxury watch brand?
    The answer to the Glycine watches price range also sums up this.
  • Which Glycine model is the best?
    Now, that's the one that could take several articles the length of this one. And there still would not be a single answer to it. It all depends on personal taste since high quality, durability, craftsmanship, and visual appeal are strong features of all Glycine watches. So picking the best one would be a highly subjective choice, and it's a great thing that Glycine has so many models to offer.
  • Is Glycine a respected watch brand?
    By all means. Even though they have been out of the spotlight for some time, Glycine watches have a steady fan and user base. What is more, Invicta's decision to preserve Glycine's original visual appeal and focus on pristine quality, aided by advanced marketing moves Invicta is known for, are all good omens that the popularity of Glycine collections will additionally rise without losing any of the old fans' base.

All that becomes even more certain paired with the fact that so many complementary watch bands are available for Glycine watches. Why is that a vast popularity increase factor? The answer is simple, with the right watch band, Glycine watches become a chameleon of a sort, going from a purely classic and elegant piece to a sporty watch and vice versa.

That means that owning a single, precise and durable watch could meet all the needs and fit perfectly in all stations and occasions a regular person may find them. And all that for less than $1k. One of those opportunities that is hard to pass.


Glycine watches will look entirely different simply by changing watch bands.

Strapcode recommendation of watch bands for Glycine watches



External References :


Written by S.K., images by by Glycine watches and others as noted

4 Responses


February 10, 2023

Hi William,
We appreciate your interest and your support!

Strapcode Team


February 10, 2023

Hi Burdine,
I am grateful for your insight and appreciate your comments.

Strapcode Team

William Hughes
William Hughes

February 10, 2023

I appreciate this brand and have about a dozen models in my collection.The 24hr Airman never ceases to amaze me when I wear it attracting attention from horological enthusiasts and everyday people alike. Thank you for this write-up celebrating a brand with such a rich history.

Burdine Estep
Burdine Estep

February 10, 2023

Nice fairly based article. Well done – I own 5, had another 3.

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