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.
The professional production in Bienne enabled 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, particulary in England and America, 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. 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 1930s 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 1945, with the war over and access to world markets again possible, the industry took a deep breath.
Immediately, Glycine geared up production and rapidly presented a complete range of automatic (self-winding) watches, making use of the most advanced technologies.
1952 saw the birth of the famous VACUUM chronometers, watches known for their incredible resistance to water and shocks, designed for long-term use under hostile conditions. They performed well beyond expectations.
In 1953, the AIRMAN line was presented to the world market and immediately received an enthusiastic welcome. Now, in addition to regular local time, world time was available at a glance.The steadily growing class of jet-setters and frequent travellers readily took to the convenience of having two time zones on their wrist.
The AIRMAN line has never been absent from the Glycine selection, and is, today more than ever, the spearhead of the range.
The steadily growing class of jet-setters and frequent travellers readily took to the convenience of having two time zones on their wrist.
The year 1967 stands for another important Glycine year and marks an era of new technology and design that we see reflected in the way the watches were shaped and equipped.
The AIRMAN SST stands for SuperSonic Transport and we are led to believe that the mesmerizing engraving on the back of this new Airman model is a Boing 2707.
However looking at all the pictures of Super Sonic Transports one is unable to determine which plane really was the inspiration source for this extraordinary watch. It might well have been the Tupolev Tu-144. The Concorde and the Tupolev both had their first flight in 1968 and were hot news during 1967.
In the 70s, the Swiss watch industry – late in introducing quartz movements - was hit by the proliferation of quartz watches from the Far East.
The technological revolution brought about by the quartz movement, together with the world-wide recession and a massive increase in value of the Swiss franc, pushed many manufacturers to the brink of disaster.
The market went through a turnaround in its values. 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.
Following the purchase of Glycine in 1984, Hans 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.
A quartz collection was created and an international network of agencies sprang to life again.
The new strategies began to pay off in the early 1990s when the company successfully implemented her own brand concept, resulting in mechanical products being increasingly integrated into the company’s collections. This strategy proved effective in positioning Glycine as a specialist, with a long tradition in the field of mechanical 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 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 the automatic AIRMAN 2000. By using an exquisite ETA movement 2893-2, Glycine offered a three-time-zone timekeeper, unique in the field of 24-hour watches. The following year, the AIRMAN line was enlarged by a jumbo 46 mm watch, featuring a special locking system on the revolving top ring.
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.
Today, Glycine is active world-wide by means of a steadily growing network of agencies, allowing the company to increase production while maintaining the quality of its products.
Widespread and reliable after-sale service remains an important factor in the company's growth, and Glycine is taking utmost care to provide impeccable performance in this field.
Offering excellent value at reasonable prices is an important part of Glycine's philosophy. The company's strong foundation, coupled with its emphasis on rugged and reliable products, make Glycine a respected name in Swiss watchmaking today.
For more information, visit die Glycine History Page