Glycine Airman VINTAGE V 2005-2006 < >
Name: Glycine Airman VINTAGE V
Size: 36mm without crown
High: 11.50mm with see-through back
Movement: ETA 2893-2 automatic, Size: 11 1/2", Jewels: 21, Hz: 4/28'800 vibrations per hour
Rotor: Rhodium coated oscillating weight on ball bearing, decorated "Côtes de Genève" (These are regular parallel lines which give the part a ribbed look) , engraved by an airplane
Time display: 24 hour
Functions: hours, minutes and seconds, 24hours hand, date display in window
Power Reserve: 42 hours
Date: Trapezoidal date display with red numerals
Dial: grey dégradé, reversed 24-hours imprint with the "12" on top
Text on dial: Glycine Airman, VintageV, Automatic, logo, swiss made sl
Hand: nickel with SL
Case: Stainless steel
Back: screwed see-through mineral glass
Crystal: Domed sapphire
Bezel: Positioned by a spacer system at 4h
Strap: leather /rubber
Water resistance: 20 atm
Limited Edition: 150 pieces. Number is inscribed on the side
rollover image for back
The Airman and I
In the following text I reflect upon my personal "dealings" with the Airman since 1994.
It was during my 1994 quest for a "new" 24 hour watch that I came across the Old Glycine Airman for the first time. From all the information I gathered during these years this watch stand out.
The simple design appealed to me. The dial had all a 24 hour watch needs.
It displayed: all hour numbers, all or most 5 minutes numbers and all 5 minute markers. No hour markers at the uneven hour numbers that run through the minute & seconds scale. A minute hand that tips the minute scale and a hour hand that leaves no mistake were it points at. This dial was set in a cast with a similar evident design. Beset by a bezel with a characteristic second crown as a bezel locker.
A design that was bound to last!
Around 1996 during my first steps on the internet I discovered that the Glycine company still existed. The quartz Airman model on display at there website was not at all like the Old Airman.
At that time I began to lobby for a re release of the Old Airman.
In these early years I bought a black and white Old Airman on ebay and came in contact with Werner Siegrist, owner of the Glycine Sales & Service Center in the USA ( renamed in Falcon Watch Co. in 1990 ) because I needed a rotor for my white Airman. I had some long telephone conversations with Werner and at one point we even played with the thought of placing an order for a new old Airman model, like he had done for the Airman GMT 2000, and market them ourselves ;-).
In 1998 Glycine finally announced the Airman 2000 world timer. After telephone contact with Glycine it became clear that it was a GMT watch and a purist version was not an option because there was no interest in 24 hour watches.
In a 1998 letter to Glycine I complimented them on there new Airman 2000 but again asked for a purist version and a "replica" of the old Airman.
In 1999 two events lead me to believe that the willingness to recreated this famous old Airman was growing. First of all they did launch the purist version of the Airman 2000 and secondly they launched the Airman 46mm. This version had the characteristic second crown!
These were the day's of the BiG watches. The next model Airman 7 had the incredible size of 53 mm and didn't look like the Old Airman at all.
In 2002, just in time to celebrated it's fifties birthday, Glycine launched the Airman 8. I bought one in 2003.
It had the original size and the characteristic second crown and dial of the Old Airman. It was a worthy homage to the old Airman!
The Airman 8 had a promising follow up in 2004, the Airman special. This special version gives you a glimpse into the original beauty of one of the many early dial designs. It's uneven hour marker dots and even hour marker stripes. The triangle markers at 24 and 12 and the date magnifying lens. The Airman special has a more "vintage" look because it has a curved sapphire crystal. It also has a Blue "dégradé" evidencing day and night dial which I only have seen on the Airman Quartz. I'm almost certain that the old Airman's never had such a dial. The only problem with the special (for me that is) was it's size. And if I was longing for a "replica" I had to be honest, the hands of the new Airman's are great but they just can't match the hands of the Old Airman.
It was around 2005 that I was contacted by Tomas Osterman. He had written an essay on the Airman's history and asked for my thoughts on the article. He mentioned that he was about to visited Katherina Brechbühler and her father at Glycine for an interview and some background research for his article. I asked him to lobby for a replica of the old Airman. The Brechbühlers would think about it was the answer. I was very surprised by the fact that within a couple of months the Vintage V was launched.
The VINTAGE V is as close as they ever came. It is a normal Airman 8 fitted with the original design Old Airman hands, trapezoidal date display with red numerals, green Luminova markers and hands and bigger uneven hour numbers on the bezel. The grey to black "dégradé" evidencing day and night dial is mesmerizing but was, as far as I know, never used on the original old Airman's. There is no cross hatched crown but one might argue that it's not standard on all old Airman's. And off course there is no mineral dome shaped crystal nor a shallow curved dial.
Nowadays the dials of a watch tend to lay much lower in the case than they use to. First off all the sapphire crystals are thick and the designer also needs to place the hands of the watch. So if one doesn't use a mineral dome shaped crystal there is just one option, lower the dial and make it flat. This is the case with all the models 5 through 12 and it gives them the more modern look. The curved saphire crystal on the Airman Vintage V has a very shallow curve so it doesn't give a vintage touch to the watch.
I have no idea whether a replica of the old Airman lay's on the drawing board ( I still think they should make one) but I couldn't resist this beautiful vintage v model with it's rare 12 on top, dégradé" evidencing day and night dial and it's screwed see-through mineral glass which displays the decorated rotor. So I bought this first look alike Old Airman.
And I have to agree the AIRMAN VINTAGE V incorporates the best of today's watch technology, such as a 200 m waterproof steel case and a curved sapphire crystal, with the characteristics of the old Airman, such as the old Airman hands and the second crown.
Many thanks to Hans and Katherina Brechbühler for making these fine Airman's and special thanks for this latest homage to the Old Airman! I will now rest my case and treasure my limited Airman Vintage V 006/150. I'm sure they where sold out in a matter of day's. So it is likely that Glycine will launch more Airman's with the old style hands and who knows even a "real" replica. But I'm afraid that by that time I have no money left to buy one because I've exceeded my budget for wristwatches even before this last great purchase.
I like to end "The Airman and I" tale by thanking Werner Siegrist for all the historical knowledge he past on to us and for all he has done for the Glycine Airman. As far as I can see he caused part of the great success of the Airman in the USA and therefore worldwide and kept the Airman air born during some crucial years.
rollover image for model 8 style hands
trapezoidal date and bigger
rollover image for model 8
green luminova, rollover image for model 8
"This" Old Airman with his trapezoidal date display
was used to re design the vintage v.