Searching for a moderately sized “aviator” with a nice old-fashioned feel and a military-style 24-hour time display? Well, then you should perhaps have a look at the Glycine Airman 1953 Vintage Limited Edition (ref. 3904.14.TB9). The Swiss-based niche brand offers the device in a nice, vintage-styled body, which is equipped with a rotating bezel that can serve as a secondary time-zone indicator, too. Although the self-winding movement that powers it doesn’t look as sexy as those NOS Unitas calibers that you can find in some other recently introduced timekeepers (like, for example, this elegant Archimede Deck Watch R (UA7952)), it still offers you a combination of quality and reliability that you can expect from a watch, which is sold at more than €2000.
As the company puts it in its press release, the new watch is powered by the well-known ETA 2893-2 automatic caliber. Popular among watchmaking brands of all sizes (starting from Muehle Glashuette and going up to such monsters as Breitling), the caliber is usually employed to create GMT watches that combine the normal 12-hour representation with a secondary hour hand that circles around a 24-hour scale.
This model features only one hour hand, so it looks like the Airman 1953 Vintage simply has the normal hand amputated and substituted with the secondary one. However, as I have already noted, the Airman 1953 doesn’t lose its GMT functionality, since you still set a second time-zone by rotating the notched brushed steel bezel that, too, comes with the same 24-hour scale.
To prevent the bezel from accidental rotation, the watch is equipped with a locking crown at 4 hours: unscrew it, set the bezel to the desired time, and then screw it back. That’s that easy.
Compared to previous editions (like, say, the Airman Base 22 model), the new Airman 1953 Vintage features a cleaner, easier-to-read dial that now features only a set of Arabic numerals on the chapter ring and a set of smaller numerals on the minute track. The AM/NOON/PM inscriptions still look superfluous here, but at least they visually balance the “GLYCINE AIRMAN” logo on the upper half of the dial.
Too bad, however, that they dropped the luminous hour markers: for a 24-hour model, the loss of these luminous dots will make nighttime readability problematic, to say the least.
However, all these minor problems are perfectly offset with the price. I have just found of British-based online shop that offers this timekeeper (including the wooden presentation box and a NATO-style black nylon strap) at a pretty much affordable price of £1760, which roughly converts to $2800 USD: not a bad offer for such a timekeeper.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Glycine Airman 1953 Vintage 3904.14.TB9 specification
Price: Around $2800 (online)
Movement: Automatic, ETA 2893-2, Swiss Made
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Movement decoration: Rhodium-coated oscillating weight, Cotes de Geneve pattern
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 11.80 mm
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Numerals: Arabic, 24-hour scale
Hour markers: Black
Hands: Steel, luminous
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Black textile strap with a steel belt buckle
Back: Transparent, mineral glass