Commemorating the Swiss brand’s 100th Anniversary, the new Glycine F104 Pilot (Ref. 3932.146AT.LB7R) automatic wristwatch delivers that great mix of a clean, easy to read dial with an easy to recognize pre-WWII styling, and deliberately oversized body: something that you rarely see when it comes to pilot’s watches designed during the last decade or two. Although, like a number of recently introduced timekeepers that try to strike your imagination with monsters that look ridiculous on almost any wrist of a man of a normal stature, this one will not look that great if you decide to wear it with formal suit, it is still an interesting collectible item that one can even wear from time to time. Perhaps, combine it with an equally expensive winter bomber jacket that would be able to somehow hid the gadget’s overall bulkiness?
Please note: The overview was updated and corrected regarding the item’s dimensions and reference number.
Well, to my taste the winding/setting crown is still a bit too large, but it is at least ergonomic enough to be operated by gloved hand (it may also come in handy if you happen to have thick fingers).
According to official specs, the watch is powered by what they prefer to call a “Glycine caliber GL224” automatic movement, which is just a redecorated version of the good old ETA 2824-2 ebauche: a good, if a bit old, and reliable movement that powers hundreds of thousands (if not millions) watches sold by hundreds of watchmaking brands of European, North American, and even Asian origin.
As usual, it is built on 25 jewels, beats at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour and offers the standard power reserve of 38 hours.
For a contemporary watch that often keep working for more than two days after being fully wound and hidden in a drawer or a safe, the guaranteed power reserve doesn’t impress, but even if you plan to use the F104 Pilot as your daily beater, this should not be a problem.
What CAN be a problem is the way the worn-look leather strap is attached to the steel body.
As you can see on the photo, the watch uses a set of rather unusual “movable” lugs with a specified width of 22 millimeters, which basically means that it will be extremely difficult to find either a replacement strap or a bracelet without ruining the timekeeper’s balanced and very clean look.
Like the new Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903 Limited Edition (Ref. 96.2431.693/ 21.C740) that was released almost four months ago in January 2014 and featured the same diameter of 48 millimeters, this limited edition version of the F104 Pilot uses a “vintage” typeface to print its 12 luminous Arabic numerals.
However, there is a very nice twist to it: the slightly oversized “6” was modified to look as a stylized “G” of the Latin alphabet referring to the brand’s name. Some people will probably find the modification negligible, but that’s those small things that make big difference when it comes to such overpriced things as premium cars, watches and this sort of things.
I am also quite impressed by the way the guys from Glycine put to good use 2824-2’s inherent deficiency: the mechanism’s small size allowed them to make the busy dial with its two chapter rings, a calendar window at 3 hours and seconds scale look especially light and clean with a lot of air to breeze.
In fact, I must admit that the Glycine F104 Pilot Automatic (at least the ref. 3932.146AT.LB7R with its silver-light dial and mirror-polished stainless steel body) sports the most easy-to-read dial among recently introduced timekeepers of this kind. Yes, the transparent case back still sort of spoils the impression (I still don’t understand the reason why they didn’t decide to opt for a Unitas hand-wound movement that powers the accompanying pocket watch and would match the case of this one perfectly,) but that doesn’t look like a serious problem to me.
As far as I understand, Glycine doesn’t plan to limit the timekeeper’s production, which is great: among all these overweight monsters, this watch is like a breath of fresh air.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Glycine F104 Pilot Automatic (Ref. 3932.146AT.LB7R) specification
Movement: Automatic, Glycine caliber GL224 (base ETA 2824-2), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 38 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case material: Stainless steel (pictured) / Black steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Bezel shape: Round
Size: 48.00 mm
Case height: 9.40 mm
Dial: Black / Sand-brown / Silver-white (pictured)
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Black
Hands: Blued, luminous
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Worn-look leather strap with two steel rivets on each side and a steel buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective