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Watches made for heaven
The Pilot Watch Magazine
01 March 2024

Precise timepieces for heaven and earth

Glycine was founded in 1914 by the then 23-year-old watchmaker Eugène Meylan in Biel-Bienne, the center of the Swiss watch industry. The brand is particularly known for its automatic watches, which were already being mass-produced in the 1930s – a sensation at the time. The special timepieces developed from the 1950s onwards for use under water, in fighter planes and even in space caused an even greater sensation. For example, pilots in the United States Air Force wore Glycine watches during the Vietnam War, as did American astronaut Pete Conrad during his space missions with Gemini 5 and Gemini 11, which lasted several days.

From the beginning, Glycine has focused on producing extremely precise and professional timepieces. Initially, the Biel-based watchmaker produces miniature movements in precious gold, gemstone and platinum cases for ladies. Later, more robust models prove to be true favorites of the British and American jet set – but also an absolutely reliable instrument on the wrist, appreciated by pilots and space travelers.

Since its foundation by the ingenious watchmaker Eugène Meylan, Glycine has been producing the finest timepieces of the highest Swiss craftsmanship.


Twice in space and back

In 1953, at the suggestion of British pilot Chat Brown, Glycine develops its first pilot’s watch – the Airman. The timepiece quickly achieves cult status among pilots. The Airman is impressive all along the line, from its design to its special functions. It was also the first watch ever to feature different time zones on the display – practical for space travelers who take off from Houston and land somewhere in the vastness of the Pacific. In the 1960s, the Airman was worn twice by NASA astronaut Pete Conrad in space and returned safely to Earth.

At the end of the 1970s, Glycine introduced quartz versions of its models, in line with the general trend in the industry. Later, the company refocused on mechanical movements. To this day, Glycine enjoys an excellent reputation among watch enthusiasts. Since 2016, the watch manufacturer has belonged to the American Invicta Watch Group, based in Florida. Nevertheless, more than 100 years after the creation of its first Glycine watch, the spirit of the Swiss company founder lives on. Today, the Biel-based company continues to manufacture unique and distinctive timepieces – and at a fair price-performance ratio.

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