WBOTD 8/16/12 Glycine

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WBOTD 8/16/12 Glycine

Post by Ocean » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:57 am

I have handled a few of these and liked what I have seen of them.

The Beginning: The history of a passion

Since its founding by Eugène Meylan in 1914, Glycine has been producing watches at its factory in Bienne, Switzerland.

Meylan was an uncompromising watch engineer who strove for perfection and nothing less. He had a profound understanding of both the market demands and the possibilities offered by the technological advances of the time. Very soon, he succeeded in producing extremely precise, small movements for ladies watches, enabling Glycine to put on the market the finest miniature movements, clad in precious gold and platinum cases, often studded with diamonds.

Glycine became a supplier to the wealthy people who valued highly these works of fine craftsmanship. However, Meylan did not stop there. Around 1931, he presented to the world market a well-functioning self-winding watch, entirely of his own invention, a sensational performance that, for lack of capital, could not be exploited commercially. Some of these GLYCINE Eugène Meylan SA self-winding watches can still be found in the collectors' market.

The year 1934 saw the launch of a chronometer range, a line of watches passing the exacting tests of the Official Swiss Quality Control. The depression years of the 30s and the approaching world war took a heavy toll on the company as Switzerland was cut off from nearly all its traditional export markets.

Yet Glycine survived and even managed to be one of only 29 exhibitors at the Basel Fair in 1938, an annual event the firm has not missed since.
In the 70s, the Swiss watch industry – late in introducing quartz movements - was hit by the proliferation of quartz watches from the Far East.Many market shares were lost, the industry entered into a crisis that lasted six years and cost roughly 60,000 jobs.

Glycine too suffered heavily but managed to survive. In 1984, soldering on with a reduced staff, Glycine was sold to Hans Brechbühler, who had been working for years with Glycine in a loose cooperation based on the joint development and exchange of watch models.

The come-back

Following the purchase of Glycine in 1984, Brechbühler, who had been a specialist in private label business, switched over to the brand watch business, an entirely new experience for him. Progressively, new products were developed that enabled Glycine to work successfully in countries such as Scandinavia, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Germany.

Mechanics in the ascendant, the giants take over

The markets were now ready for watches of real value, and Glycine made the most of it.

Beginning in the late 90s and in quick succession, a rich assortment of mechanical watches, with steadily growing diameters, was presented to the market, from the 37 mm COMBAT to the 42 mm OBSERVER, the 44 and 46 mm INCURSORE, the 48 mm KMU and, to top it off, the 52 mm F 104, one of the biggest wrist watches ever produced.

Chronographs with the famous V 7750 and 7751 movements were added, such as the classic 46 mm STRATOFORTE, the giant GRAND CARRE 3810 and the elegant barrel-shaped ALTUS, inspired by a successful Glycine model of the 50s.

All these big size watches gave the company the status of a daring innovator that did not hesitate to push the size of its watches beyond every dimension known so far.

AIRMAN forever

Already in 1953, Glycine started production of its first Airman model, a watch that has become legendary. The design and features of this watch had been worked out in close co-operation with pilots of civil and military aviation.

Undoubtedly this line gave Glycine the status of a pioneer in the field of world time watches. Over the years Airman models have never been absent from the Glycine range, even during the period when quartz movements dominated the world market. In reply to market demand, two AIRMAN models with ETA quartz movements were launched, gaining particular success in Japan and USA, where demand for real world time watches had not faded.

The year 1998 brought the long-awaited rebirth of this leader, with model ref. 3764, AIRMAN 2000. By using an exquisite ETA movement 2893-2, Glycine offered a three-time-zone timekeeper.

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