Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Mysteriously (Un)Stealthy Black Beauty - Glycine Airman Base 22 "Mystery" (Ref: 3887)

Stealth watches are a bit of a paradox, in my opinion. Stealth, as far as my limited understanding goes, means to be inconspicuous. However, most stealth watches are anything but. In fact, stealth watches tend to attract more attention. The Glycine Base 22 "Mystery" is another such example.

Firstly, I'm a sucker for red and black combos. Ever since I saw it on the internet about a year ago, I had been waiting patiently for it to show up on our shores. I finally get to try it sometime during the middle of the year at a shop near me office. However, I was not entirely sold as it was kind of thin and it could do with a slightly larger case. But when I saw it again at Gnomon Watches a few months later, I caved and decided to get for my trip to Italy.

The Mystery is a tow-time zone watch fitted with a ETA 2836 movement. However, Glycine has christened it as the calibre GL 293. Under the anti-reflective coated Sapphire crystal is a 24-hour "blackout" dial for the second time zone. There are additional stick markers and a 12-hour Arabic inner rim for the main time zone. Yes, it does look a bit busy and I must admit it still takes me a while to read the time on occasions. Honestly, this is not a "quick glance" watch. Well, not without some practice and getting used to, at least. The red GMT hand is a neat touch providing a nice contrast to a dark facade.

The bi-directional bezel further facilitates a third-time zone capability. One unique feature that accompanies this bezel is the locking mechanism at 4 o'clock. Glycine calls it a "spacer system" and "hatched crown". These are actually fanciful names for a simple screw-down locking mechanism. I was initially concerned about the hatched crown hindering the operation of the relatively tiny crown at the 3 o'clock position. However, I am very pleased that not only did the hatched crown not obstruct time setting or winding at all, but the screw-down crown, though rather small, pops out with more than enough space to allow my very short fingernails to pull it out further.

The polished PVD case is surprisingly top notch. It looks well coated and soundly bonded. This piece comes standard with a black NATO strap with PVD buckles. As some of you might know, I'm not must of a NATO fan, so I fitted a pair of matte black calves with red box stitch instead.

The case is a tad too thin, in my opinion. However, it does allow you to tuck it under shirt sleeves easily. Notice the highly polished PVD case. The lugs are steeply angled and should fit those with small wrists really well as the case is not huge to begin with. Actually, the pin holes are a double-edged sword. While it allows straps to be removed easily, aesthetically, they are akin to pimples on an otherwise, flawless face.

Visible through the exhibition case back is the rhodium coated ETA 2893 movement. Th Glycine website advised that only the rotor is coated. However, the entire movement appears to be coated. What's neat is the Airman logo etched on the decorated rotor.

I believe the sapphire on the case back might be tinted as well. Here's the same watch, same place, taken from a different angel.

AS my wrist is not that huge, many feel that it looks ok on me. Unfortunately, optical illusion tends to come into play and make an all black object look smaller than it really is.

The biggest peeve from me has to be the thickness, or rather, the thinness of the case. It looks like a pancake on my wrist.

True to its stealthy and mysterious DNA, the lume is mediocre at best and you need a really bright source to jack it up to this level. Which is also probably its max.

It's a practical watch, especially when traveling. However, the busy and blackout dial makes quick time telling a bit of a challenge. The stock NATO straps are cheap and boring looking. The case could be thicker and larger to offset the effects of optical illusion. The lugs should be straighter. The lume sucks (but its a stealth watch, duh!). But all these gripes are, in my opinion outweighed by the very aesthetically pleasing design and unusual bezel locking device. As with any mass produced watch, it's not perfect but sure has the looks to grab attention.

Specifications :
Case Size : 42mm.
Lug Width : 22mm.
Movement : GL 293 (ETA 2836).
Power Reserve : +/- 42 Hours.
Crystal : Sapphire (Front and Back), Possibly tinted.
Case Material : Stainless Steel with PVD coating.
Water Resistance : 200m.

Pros :
- Reliable movement.
- Good loks.
- Sturdy and polished PVD coating.
- Easy to use crown.
- Bezel lock device.
- Relatively affordable price tag.
- Nice rotor.
- Rhodium plated movement.

Cons :
- Case is a bit too thin.
- Case could be larger by at least 2mm.
- Lousy lume (but it's a stealth watch!).
- Lugs should be straighter to make the watch look bigger.
- Cheap looking original NATO strap.
- Quick time reading not easy and needs practice.

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