Review: Glycine Airman DC 4

In 1953 Glycine produced a watch that revolutionized the world of aviation watches. That watch was the Airman. Since then, Glycine has made many successful pilots watches and the Airman has been improved and re-issued many times, all of which, being a huge success. The DC-4 is a tribute to the Airman as well as the plane that inspired the original. The DC-4 is regarded as a vintage and purist watch. Glycine describes a purist watch as an item that stays true to its essence. In the case of a 24 hour watch it only depicts 24-hour time.

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Initially the Airman was designed for professional airline pilots who needed both GMT and local time while in flight. The watch’s origin story is recorded in a letter from Samuel W. Glur, an Important member of the Altus Watch Company, which would merge with Glycine Watch Company only a few years after the Airman was produced:

“During most of my journey from Bangkok to Calcutta I was seated at the place of the first Officer, next to the commander in a DC-4 from Thai Airways. The captain explained to me in detail what kind of watch pilots from all nations would actually need. According to him this watch is not on the market.”

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The Douglas DC-4 is a propeller-driven plane that was built in 1942 and became popular for its military use in World War II. The plane served throughout the war and well into the 60’s. The plane was reliable and many are still being used today by private airlines and operators. The watch was birthed out of this plane, despite not having any distinct features of the plane itself in the design.

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The original Airman has large numerals for easy use of a 24-hour clock, whereas the DC-4 abandons the large numerals for a minute/seconds index across a railroad track design. The DC-4 has an am/pm indicator at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. With a date at the 3 o’clock position as well. The DC-4 is much larger, and a much more appropriate size for a modern pilots watch at 42mm, compared to the original’s 36mm. The DC-4’s case, like the originals, is stainless steel and the case back is screwed on. The DC-4’s back is see through, with mineral glass on the back, and a domed sapphire crystal on the front. The movement is Glycine’s GL293 Automatic, which is based on the workhorse ETA 2893-2 movement.

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Retail price of the Glycine DC-4 (Ref. 3904)  is $2,900 and the watch comes with a Nato fabric strap in either black or green. However, Glycine Watch Company was sold to Invicta Watch Group in August 2016. Hence, I have a feeling you could find a very good bargain on this purist edition.

Guest Editor: Vikas Chopra

Photo Credit: Scott Sitkiewitz

Source for historical information: Glycine Airman, Special Sixty Years Edition, written by Andre Stikkers

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