Given the history of Glycine’s Airman, in may ways it was one of the last watches that I’d have imagined would join the ‘stealth black’ trend. There have been more than enough ‘black stealth’ watches released in recent years to satisfy even the most devoted fan of PVD, but the all-black look doesn’t always work, and merely making a watch black is no guarantee that it will be popular, let alone anything else. The lack of care taken towards the dial by some brands has puzzled me. In the end, the time has to be able to be read; if your watch is blackened to the point where I cannot tell the time in dim lighting, then its core function has been diminished.
So we come to the new Glycine Airman Base 22 ‘Mystery’ (Ref. 3887). At 42mm with a stainless steel matte black PVD coated case, it essentially looks like a blackened Airman. However, what distinguishes it from other watches of this type is that the dial isn’t so much black (although it is called black) as a very dark matte grey, which makes the dial and the numbers, which are in a shade that is a fractionally lighter (and the ‘12’ and ‘24’ in an even lighter shade) actually legible and functional.
The design legibility success continues with the markers and the jet black hour minute and seconds hands, which can be seen against the darkness of the dial.
Inside is the automatic ETA 2893-2 used in many of the Airman models, with a 42 hour power reserve. The crown is cross-hatched, a nod to the Airman’s history, and it comes on a nylon NATO-styled strap with PVD hardware.
Less black and more ‘black and tones of dark grey”, the Glycine Base 22 “Mystery” is an interesting modernisation of the very functional Airman. Probably trend-driven but still able to be used, on a practical level, in that sense it is still a ‘tool watch’, albeit one driven slightly by fashion. It’s quite a good looking watch, the ‘f’ word aside, with the ‘black’ design nicely thought out. Whether or not it will appeal to purists is uncertain. It is certainly not a replacement for the classic design but perhaps it is more a funky addition if you already have an old-school Airman and want something fun to co-habit with it, or if you are looking for an all-black watch but want something that is a little bit more than just about the colour.
The ‘Mystery’ actually comes in two versions – a GMT Version (four hands, three time zones) and what they are calling a “ Purist Version” which is 24 hours, three hands, two time zones.
Sydneysiders can find Glycine watches at this AD.