Review of the Glycine Airmain Base 22
By: John B. Holbrook, II
By: John B. Holbrook, II
I've always been a big fan of mechanical watch brands which can successfully combine genuine history and heritage with quality design and manufacturing at a value price point. Glycine is just such a brand, and their famed Airman is one of the most respected and coveted aviator watches ever made, going back to the 1950's. At Baselworld 2010 Glycine introduced the Airman Base 22 with a very positive response from both the press and consumers - the clear aesthetic homage to the early 1950's Airman multiple timezone watch was very welcome. Glycine recently sent me an example of the Airman Base 22 for my review, so I got the opportunity to spends some hands-on time with the watch.
Let me say right off the that this watch is an absolute home run with me aesthetically - I can't really find anything I don't like about it from a cosmetic point of view. The cream colored white dial, along with the 1950's Airman reminiscent bezel give the watch a very cool "retro" vintage look in a very contemporary package. I really love the blued hour hand - not only does the color help differentiate it from the other dial hands which improves "at a glance" legibility, it also just amps up the cool factor of this watch. The arrow head GMT hand is red-tipped, which also smartly helps distinguish it, and adds to the visual distinctiveness. I was genuinely surprised at how legible this multi-timezone timepiece is. But if you want to be really impressed, just check out the visibility of this watch provided by ample amounts of SuperLuminova coated on the hands and markers when the lights go out:
The dial of the Airman Base 22 is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, with an anti-reflective coating applied.
The case of the Airman Base 22 measures 42mm in diameter (water resistant to 20 ATM) and has an appealing blend of both polished and brushed finishes. At 5'7", 42mm watches are about my personal limit in size, but the Airman Base 22 wears like a classic timepiece and did not see overly large on my wrist. At the three o'clock position is the main crown (screw down variety) which winds the watch and sets the time. At the four o'clock position there is a second hatched crown which adjusts the topring when tracking multiple timezones - a feature Glycine introduced in the 1960's.
Between the 22mm case lugs is a well-padded, brown and buttery-soft calf leather strap which impresses every bit as much as the watch to which it is attached. Generally speaking, I'm more of a bracelet guy than I am a strap guy, but when a strap is this attractive and comfortable, it makes me question my preferences. It reminds me of an extremely high-quality, custom made aftermarket strap you might find for a Panerai watch - it's an absolute perfect fit. The strap is held together with a simple tang and buckle bearing the Glycine logo:
Turning to the backside of the Airman Base 22, we find a mineral glass display back providing a view of the ETA 2893-2 which powers the watch. Kudos for Glycine for being honest about caliber in the Airman Base 22, and not renaming it a "Glycine Caliber XYZ" as you find so many other brands do. Of course there's no reason not to be honest - the ETA 2893-2 is essentially an ETA 2892 (the best caliber ETA makes in my opinion, and that of many others) with the addition of the 24 hour hand complication. The ETA 2893-2 is a self-winding mechanical movement with 21 jewels, a power reserve of 42 hours, and a balance wheel which vibrates at 28,800 beats per hour (BPH). The rotor of the movement exhibits "Côtes de Genève" decoration, along with an airplane engraving (consistent with the aviator nature of the Glycine Airman) and is rhodium coated.
Some watches which manufacturers send me for review are harder to send back than others. But the Glycine Airman Base 22 (ref. 3887) was particularly hard to send back - it just hit all my buttons. The price of the Glycine Airman Base 22 $1,995.00. That's an absolutely amazing value - for less than $2,000.00 you get a multi-timezone mechanical Swiss brand watch, with all the history and aviation tradition of the Airman name. It's easily one of the best "bang for your buck" watches I've seen in the last two, maybe three years. Keep 'em flying Glycine!
**Photos & Text Copyright 2011 WATCH TALK FORUMS. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.