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Glycine Airman Special 12 on top, and 24 on top

  1. pdxleaf Capricious-Watch-Slave Mar 7, 2021

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  2. pdxleaf Capricious-Watch-Slave Mar 7, 2021

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    The Glycine Airman is intriguing to many types of collectors. It’s a pilot’s watch, a military watch, a space watch, and not least, an interesting bit of horology. My interests began when I learned that Conrad had worn one in space, as I am still stuck in the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing. Once I learned of its existence, I appreciated it as a watch and not just as an attachment to space. As a vintage watch, Glycine patented the 24 hour bezel and created the first GMT style pilot watch (pre-dating the Rolex GMT.) The 24-hour movement is not found on many other watches, where the hour hand circles the dial once every 24 hours. And of course, the hack mechanism is popular with anyone who has ever fabricated anything in the garage. We can’t imagine every building an escapement but we can understand the idea of adding a tiny wire to pop up out of the dial to stop the second hand. That’s a hack I can see myself building.

    I set my sights on a Glycine, but before finding one, purchased a Pobeda like the one that flew with Laika, a Sekonda chronograph with an inscription (in Russian) to a Major from his comrades, a Seiko Pogue and an M6 Accutron Astronanut. So the Glycine has been long delayed.

    People know to beware of fakes and frankens, and Glycines are highly susceptible, perhaps because of their popularity. When one popped up at a recent auction, I started down the list. The hands were the right length and size, the 40 had the right top on the font and was facing the right way, etc… It took me longer to notice that the 24 and 12 on the dial were reversed, which is something you’d think would be the first thing you’d notice. One of those can’t see the forest for the trees moments.

    Seeing the 24 at the six o’clock position made me suspect a fake dial. But so many other factors looked correct, including the aging that I kept digging. I really wanted it to be correct. Fortunately, there is a lot of information on the web from generous people who have shared their hard work researching the watch.

    Nevada Watch Repair has a history page that is a must (https://www.nevadawatchrepair.com/glycine-airman-history.html)

    Of course, Emre Kiris is the authority and shares his expertise on his web page, Glycintennial.com (https://glycintennial.com) In fact, he is so knowledgeable that the Glycine company asked him to lead their Heritage department.

    Andre Stikkers book, which he makes available as a free pdf is also fantastic. (https://andres55.home.xs4all.nl/glycineairman.pdf)

    There are other resources, but these are invaluable and deserve our thanks. Everything I know came from other people’s work. There’s nothing new for me to share, except to showcase an existing example that demonstrates what was discussed.

    Besides the strange flip of the 12 and 24, I saw that this watch was a Special. I had avoided the Airman Special because it wasn’t a Scott Carpenter reference. The Airman Special is likely familiar to collectors but it is worth repeating some background. In spite of the name, it isn’t special in the way that makes it better. It could be argued that it isn’t worse, but it isn’t special in that way. The Special simply had jewels limited to 17 to get around the tariff the USA put on Swiss watches.

    In short order, the auction watch was mentioned on the web and described as the Airman Special 12 on Top. Andre even had a picture of it in his gallery (https://andres55.home.xs4all.nl/frames/airman25years.htm). It seemed my auction watch was legit.

    That brings us to the watch itself. It is said that the 12 on top was produced between 1955 and 1960. I later learned from the Glycine Heritage department that Airmen Specials were produced until 1968 (some Specials have the 24 hour on top like normal Airman dials.) A list of serial numbers from the Glycintennial.com identified my watch as produced in 1956, making it a birth year watch for me.

    I had enough information to decide to bid and eventually won the auction. At this point I decided to ask for help and contacted Jim (@Tubber). Jim graciously replied with lots of helpful information, including how to contact the Glycine Heritage department, which I did immediately.

    Emre wrote me back the same day. In a world accustomed to instant satisfaction from the internet, even this was fast and unexpected.

    [to be continued]
     
    Edited Mar 11, 2021
  3. pdxleaf Capricious-Watch-Slave Mar 7, 2021

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    Here is how to contact the Heritage Dept:

    Email: [email protected] with below requirements:
    1. Photo of the watch case and dial
    2. Photo of case-back
    In some cases I require inner case-back and/or movement photo also.
    We don’t do market evaluations, inquiries will be politely declined.
    This service covers Glycine timepieces from 1914 to 2014,the first 100 years only.
    Newer watches after 2014 are not in my scope but the HQs may assist you in your requirements through [email protected]

    When I contacted Emre, I was particularly curious about the reasons for the 12 on top. I had speculated that Glycine could have been aware of the 12 o'clock high concept used by military pilots who were identifying the location of enemy aircraft in relationship to their position. Alternatively, this was early after the release of the 24 hr bezel so they could have been experimenting with the market to determine acceptance. Emre responded, which I have copied here:

    "Thank you for contacting Glycine Heritage department, this is the right address for archive information.

    "The Airman Special models were manufactured for the US market until 1968. ‘Special’ models varied from non ‘Special’ models in jewel count, they had lower jewel counts. The US had customs and import regulations as the more jewel count of the watch movement the more tax was due to be paid. Along with other Swiss manufacturers we also have manufactured than 17 jewel ( the optimum minimum count for a self winding watch with date display ) watches and exported them to US in Order to pay less legal taxes and reach end customer at more affordable rates.

    "Yes, as you have rightfully mentioned our import partner back then ‘Precision Imports Co’ distributed them also in American military base PX centers around the globe. Regarding Precision Imports distribution, unfortunately we don’t know where and how many were sent to be sold. What I can share though they were available in mainland America and in a stretched geography from Germany, Greece to Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines in military bases.

    "I have found in our handwritten manufacture records the below information regarding your watch:

    Glycine serial number: A68434
    Model: Airman Special
    Case Ref: 645A
    Movement: Felsa 692N ( modified ) self-winding movement
    Manufacture date: 23 Nov 1956
    Manufacture quantity: 500 pieces (500 is the production amount in that manufacture, it’s not the total Airman models with 12 o’clock on top.)

    "The 12 on top was manufactured to meet some preferences due to customer feedback. Your theory with directions is credible but practice of that principle is based on 12 hour and 360 degrees, so a 24 hour display watch would confuse non Airman wearers. We don’t have comments recorded of why it differs from 24 o’clock on top Airman but as it’s today it may be to follow the sun with the hour hand on the horizon, which is for some watch wearers more practical. Finally it’s a preference.

    "As for the main crown, yes it looks like a replacement crown. Our manufacture crowns would have straigtht end rather than capped. Crystal should have a trapezoid date magnifier which I can’t see clear in your photos. But these are consumable parts and it’s understandable that they have been changed for the safety of the watch with parts whatever was available to the user. Our Glycine Heritage watchmakers have the correct crystal and crowns if you would opt to change them at some point. Just let me know and I shall be obliged to connect you to one of them depending on your geographical location.

    "Hacking mechanism also,if anything goes wrong no worries our watchmakers will take care of it as they did with dozens of heirloom pieces and restore that unique function. We stand behind our timepieces no matter how long ago they have been manufactured and will provide all information and services necessary to keep them ticking.

    Emre Kiris
    Documentaliste
    Glycine Heritage
    Montres Glycine SA
    Maison d'Horlogerie La Glycine
    Ring 18,2500 Bienne,Suisse
    T. www.glycine.ch
    Glycine Watch SA Facebook Page:www.facebook.com/glycinewatchsa
    Glycine Heritage History and Patents:www.glycintennial.com"
    -------------------------

    As you can see, thorough, interesting and thoughtful. I am very grateful to Emre and suggest you contact him with questions about your Glycine.

    What's next? Service. My crystal is aftermarket and I need the original with the magnifier on the bottom of the crystal. The watch runs slow and needs a good cleaning. The hack is not popping up, which means either the stem is preventing it from working, or the wire was removed or the entire mechanism. The question now is whether to send it to Nevada or to the Heritage Dept. I hate to send away my recent acquisition but am also excited about getting it back to correct specs and having a good running watch.

    I hope this thread is useful.
     
    Edited Mar 12, 2021
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  4. Dsplash Mar 7, 2021

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    Thanks for this very nice review that got me interested in this reference!
    Definitely a very interesting watch!
     
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  5. Seijikam Jul 28, 2021

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    I just purchased same Glycine airman 12 on the top version and I had many questions until read your review.
    The review answered most of my questions.
    Thank you.
     
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  6. pdxleaf Capricious-Watch-Slave Jul 28, 2021

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    If you would like to share pictures we'd love to see it
     
    Seijikam likes this.
  7. Fallout Boy Jul 28, 2021

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    You wrote:

    "The Airman Special models were manufactured for the US market until 1968. ‘Special’ models varied from non ‘Special’ models in jewel count, they had lower jewel counts. The US had customs and import regulations as the more jewel count of the watch movement the more tax was due to be paid. Along with other Swiss manufacturers we also have manufactured than 17 jewel ( the optimum minimum count for a self winding watch with date display ) watches and exported them to US in Order to pay less legal taxes and reach end customer at more affordable rates.


    Same with the Seamaster 300 with the us-version .550 at that time, as you probably know. AFAIK, they reduced the number of jewels by reducing them concerning the winding system (rotor). Is that true? Did Glycine the same?
     
  8. Seijikam Jul 28, 2021

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    I just purchased last night with eBay and waiting for the delivery. When I receive the watch I will post some photos.For meantime I share the photo from the eBay with you.
     
    2042C6AC-8C09-430A-B96A-9C6D0D6B3A4E.jpeg
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  9. pdxleaf Capricious-Watch-Slave Jul 28, 2021

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    I don't know the details for where the jewels were used. Perhaps another forum member can respond.

    In general, a 17j watch is fully jeweled and not lacking jewels. The additional jewels might be used as capstones, above other jewels to help with lubrication.
     
  10. pdxleaf Capricious-Watch-Slave Dec 4, 2021

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    Just received my watch back from Jim. Needless to say it looks great.

    In brief, he had to change the crown and modify a stem to replace my incorrect one, put on the correct crystal, redid the black in the bezel, and of course service it. He also sent it to a specialist to have a post rewelded.

    Here's the unveiling:

    20211204_145309.jpg 20211204_145339.jpg 20211204_145347.jpg 20211204_145435.jpg 20211204_145502.jpg 20211204_145600.jpg 20211204_145708.jpg 20211204_145751.jpg 20211204_145820.jpg 20211204_145838.jpg 20211204_145906.jpg 20211204_145913.jpg 20211204_150005.jpg 20211204_150021.jpg 20211204_150033.jpg 20211204_150042.jpg 20211204_150217.jpg 20211204_150337.jpg 20211204_150448.jpg 20211204_151119.jpg 20211204_152120.jpg 20211204_152610.jpg
     
  11. Walrus Dec 4, 2021

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    That looks like a tasty lollipop with might need to get one of these watches if the service includes perks of such magnitude
     
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  12. pdxleaf Capricious-Watch-Slave Jan 13, 2022

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    UPDATE: This watch was stolen. Serial number A68434. If you are offered this watch consider it stolen.

    So here's what happened. I sent the watch back to Jim to reset the date change. He sent it back USPS signature required. The mail carrier tried to deliver yesterday but no one was home so left a note. While he was out on the rest of his route, someone (ie meth head) broke the glass on the truck and stole all the packages. I found this out after I went to pick it up this morning. A bit of a queasy feeling. (Ironic that if it wasn't signature required it would have been delivered and not in the truck.)

    I was cheap and insured it for 1k. I had 3k in it after the service, which was okay because I wasn't worried about selling it.

    Now I am rethinking the USPS. if i had used FedEx, they do one address at a time. What good is registered mail or signature receipt if someone breaks into the truck?

    This sucks. But because OF is full of empathetic members, i don't want to bum everyone out. The universe takes and gives. Today I also received my 6139-6005 Resist Pogue in great condition. It's been a long hunt and I am quite happy with it.

    Guess i am back on the hunt for an Airman.
     
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  13. cvalue13 Jan 13, 2022

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    Oh no!!

    I am, so, so, sorry to hear of this.
     
  14. pdxleaf Capricious-Watch-Slave Jan 13, 2022

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    Edited Jan 13, 2022
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  15. Walrus Jan 14, 2022

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    Damn Dave that’s real bad news made me feel unwell reading it. Good on you for getting a resist pouge but that Airman is a sad loss. I don’t hear of whole trucks getting hit often but I’m sure it’s not the first time.
     
  16. pdxleaf Capricious-Watch-Slave May 20, 2022

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    @Tubber was kind enough to sell me his Airman, which also is from 1956 and is powered by a Felsa movement. Attaching the watch to this thread seemed a good place in order to end on a high note and to add a bit to the Airman background.

    The new band arrived today and this is the first wrist time I have had since it arrived.

    It's a fun and attractive watch. The sweeping small lollipop is mesmerizing. I also like the pre-Glycine crown dials. This particular watch is a bit unusual as it does not include the automatic writing on the dial and has a nice splash of red in the date, along with the metal surrounding the window. It's in great condition, having been serviced by @James Sadilek.

    Sitting here in the yard on a sunny day makes me feel like the luckiest man alive. Wishing the OF family peace and happiness.

    20220520_174315.jpg 20220520_173324.jpg 20220520_173259.jpg 20220520_112615.jpg
     
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  17. Seijikam May 21, 2022

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  18. Seijikam May 21, 2022

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    What a great news! You got a such a beautiful early airman from 1956. My champagne dial airman is also from 1956 and still serving me very well.
     
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  19. cvalue13 May 21, 2022

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    he’s seeded a few Airman around the OF-verse ;)

    glad to see you with a new Airman, and hope still one day you’re magically reunited with your 12up
     
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  20. krogerfoot May 22, 2022

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    That is certainly a handsome early Airman. I just recently sold my champagne dial 1957 Airman. The white dial, the lume pattern, and the (to me) confounding tail on the minute hand instead of the hour hand made for a fascinating contrast with my 1960s Airman models.