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State of the Glycine Airman Collection
The Largest Set of Airmans that I've Owned
When I set out to buy a Glycine Airman, it took me months to find the one that I wanted since it was no longer in production. The more I learned about the history of the Airman and its various generations, the more difficult it became to figure out how to limit myself to just one as I had originally intended. I then accepted that a set of three would be fine and finally just gave up and decided to make a sub-collection of Airmans that has now reached it’s peak at 12 watches.
I do want to eventually add some more vintage Airmans so some of the modern reissues will need to go to make space. I think 12 Airmans is about the max that I would try to keep so this is just a chance to show the collection all together before a few go up for sale.
I’ve divided the collection up into generations of the Airman’s production history and the approximate years in which they were released. The dates represent the timeframes for which these modern Airmans were reissued. Only the 1989 quartz worldtimer is an actual semi-vintage piece. Note that there are different interpretations of what a “generation” means in Airman history. I am defining them by major updates to the watch’s design.
1st Generation: 1953
The first generation Airman from 1953 was short-lived. Glycine must have decided to go with a different design shortly after releasing the original “Noon”, discontinuing this. The modern Noon reissue features a beautiful cream dial like the original and is a must-have in any classic Airman collection.
Second Generation: 1954-1960
The second generation of the Airman is my favorite. It features a “bullhorn” or arrow at the 12 and 24 on the dial along with dots for every hour as markers on the 24 hour dial. I think this dial design makes the most sense for a 24 hour watch since the odd hours are easier to read than the dial that came in the third generation.
My favorite Airman of all time is the Base 22 GA with a beautiful blue degradé dial. The GA is rare early release from the Base 22 lineup and the only Airman to ever feature a jumping primary hour hand. The Special II is an example of an Airman that inverted the hour track to put 12 noon in the traditional midnight position for a 24 hour Airman dial. The D24 09 is one of the only watches I’ve ever encountered that can read four time zones at once.
Third Generation: 1960-80
The third generation of the Airman had the longest production cycle and is the easiest vintage Airman to find on the market. The only difference between the 2nd and 3rd generation is a slight dial redesign that removed the dots as odd hour markers and replaced the bullhorns with batons at 12 and 24. This is the Airman widely used by the US military in the Vietnam War so you could say that this is the most classic iteration of the Airman Design.
Fourth Generation: 1969-1980
In 1969, Glycine released the Airman SST to commemorate the development of supersonic transport. The SST featured a new cushion-shaped case and an orange ring around the 24 hour internal bezel that was a first in the Airman line. There were also two iterations of an Airman SST chronograph released, one a purist and one a GMT, and these are quite rare and expensive when they occasionally come up for sale. My SST chronograph, SST GMT and rare SST D24 make for a fun set. The D24 reads 24 hour hour time with both the main hour hand and the secondary GMT hand, making it a “Double 24”.
Fifth Generation: 1980-98
During the 1980s, Glycine slowed mechanical watch production like so many other brands and began to focus on quartz pieces. In 1989, they released the first Airman “Worldtimer” featuring a world time bezel that could be rotated to indicate the 24 hour time in major cities around the world. In 2015, Glycine released the Airman World Traveler as a quartz piece that hearkened back to the earlier worldtimer. Aside from being quartz, I still think that the Airman World Traveler is of the highest quality and and one of the best looking Airmans around.
This is the current state of the Airman collection before I cull it down a bit to create room for a few vintage pieces. I’m happy to discuss with you if you have any questions about the Airmans listed here or any others you’ve considered adding to your watch collection.