Review of Glycine Airman Base 22 Purist

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Model # 3887.18/66

Brand/Model:  Glycine Airman Base 22 Purist
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  stainless steel case and bracelet (watch shown here on aftermarket crocodile strap)
Complications:  date display
Price:  MSRP:  $1,995; street price around $1,200 USD



Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

 

I tend to write about a lot of watches that I consider to be ‘iconic.’  Maybe because objects that I consider to be classics appeal to me.  The Glycine Airman is no exception to both the iconic and classic camps.  Glycine introduced the Airman in 1953 and this model (and variations thereof) has been in continuous production ever since.  There’s plenty more history on the Airman at Glycine’s web site.  I just wanted to give the briefest of overviews before getting to the meat of this review.
Although most people (like me) have no practical use for a 24-hour watch (a watch whose hands make only one revolution around the dial in a 24-hour period), I do think this style of watch is unique and I wanted to have an example for my collection, so what other choice than an Airman?
Glycine makes quite a range of Airman models these days, but I opted for the most classic and the simplest design, the Airman Base 22 Purist.  This model is a three hand (hour, minute, seconds) layout in a 24-hour format, with a rotating and lockable 24-hour bezel to track a second time zone.  A date display completes the features list.
Glycine watches are not the easiest to find in the U.S., but you can find a good selection on ebay or from European sellers.
The Base 22 Purist starts with a finely finished polished and brushed stainless steel case which measures 41.1mm without either of the two crowns; 45mm with the main winding and setting crown included.  The main setting crown is rather small, but it is signed and has enough knurls on it to give you a good grip when setting or winding the watch.  Even though the Base 22 Purist is an automatic, I still like to fully wind my automatics prior to wearing them, so a good, functional crown is a must for me. 
The larger crown at the four o’clock position is the locking crown for the 24-hour rotating bezel.  It’s an elegantly simple design, with a toothed locking tab that mates to the toothed edge of the bezel.  It meshes perfectly and just looks cool in its locked position.  This locking crown also has a nifty cross hatch pattern engraved into it, which is another nice touch.
The bezel itself is brushed finish stainless steel with all the even numbers indicated by a black arabic engraved into the bezel; the odd numbers are indicated by a black engraved pointer.
Case thickness is a rather slim 11.2mm, lugs are 22mm.  The lugs are drilled to make strap or bracelet swaps easy.  The caseback is a polished screwdown display type which shows off the ETA automatic movement with cool Airman engraved decorated rotor, which includes an airplane as part of the decoration. 
A flat sapphire crystal caps the dial on the Base 22 Purist.  The Base 22 Purist is water resistant to 200 meters.
This watch comes on a solid link stainless steel bracelet with hollow end links and a signed double locking clasp with a cheap stamped steel deployant.  The bracelet is just okay, I felt it was rather cheap and rattle-prone, so I installed a 22mm dark blue genuine crocodile strap with white contrast stitching.  This is the strap shown in the pictures for this review.
The dial on my Base 22 Purist is a darker blue to somewhat darker blue fade, with the darkest hue at the top, fading into the slightly lighter blue (but still dark) around the middle of the dial.  White printed arabics numbered 1 through 24 encircle the outer part of the dial, with the ‘24’ and ‘12’ printed in red.  A luminous triangle is above the red 24 and 12, with alternating luminous bar and circle markers running around the inside of the arabics.  Small arabics are printed just inside the luminous markers every five minutes.  The hour hand is arrow shaped with a fine pointed end tip in red, the minute hand is a stick style with a fine pointed end tip and the seconds hand is a stick style with ball end.  All of these hands are luminous.  Lume quality is rather good.
To make it easier to tell what time it is once the watch is into the afternoon or second half of the day (13 to 24 hours), the hour hand has a tail that extends partway into the opposite side of the dial, pointing to the corresponding time in 12-hour format.  For example, at 16:30 hours, the tail on the hour hand points between the ‘4’ and ‘5’ hour marks on the opposite side of the dial, letting the operator know that it’s 4:30 pm in 12-hour time.  Neat!
A quickset date window resides at the three position, the date wheel being black on white.  The window is large enough to clearly see the date and the alignment of the wheel inside the window is good.
Even with a dial that some may consider quite busy, with all the small arabics and markers, legibility of this watch is rather good and the overall look is fantastic.
Powering the Base 22 Purist is a tried and true Swiss Made ETA 2893-2 automatic movement.  With 21 jewels and beating at 28,800 vph, this workhorse engine should provide many years of consistent timekeeping.  The movement can be manually wound and also hacks to ensure accurate worldwide time synchronization.  Accuracy out of the box has been excellent, running at a consistent +5 seconds per day, with a long 48 hour power reserve.
As stated above, the standard stainless steel bracelet was rather disappointing to me, others may find its solid links and conventional end links and clasp to be satisfactory.  I just think a watch with this level of iconic status should be presented on a better quality bracelet, at least one with solid end links and a machined deployant.
Presentation is via a heavy black cardboard outer box with removable lid and a nice black inner box.  Glycine doesn’t include much in the way of documentation, but they do include instructions on how to best set the watch and 24-hour bezel for proper worldwide timekeeping.  A signed black polishing cloth is also part of the package, which is a thoughtful touch.
Overall, the Glycine Airman Base 22 Purist is, in the words of Glycine, ‘legendary.’  It’s a unique and highly useful watch with a true 24-hour display.  Good fit and finish, attractive looks and a cache that many other watches could only wish for, this watch does the job it’s been designed for and does so with class and style.  Bravo!
Pros:  iconic watch model, true 24-hour functionality, good fit and finish, dark blue fade dial looks cool 

Cons:  standard stainless steel bracelet could be better quality for price point, main crown could be a bit larger

Verdict:  even if you’re not a pilot, this is the 24-hour watch to have; just drop the name ‘Airman’ at your next business meeting and see how people react.  The Glycine Airman Base 22 Purist is just that, pure in every sense of the word.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.

Excelsior!

-Marc


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