When Pilots Needed Watches

A tribute to one of the greatest pieces we've sold, and its role in the history of aviation

J. HEFFNER, Sep 2021

Sometimes a watch transcends its face value of significance because of an aurora of history and prior usage.

For instance, a 32mm chrome-plated, time only Longines isn’t worth its weight in scrap until we consider that it’s an original 6B/159 pilot’s watch issued to spitfire pilots during World War II.

So how does this tie into the subject of this article? I present you with my Glycine Airman SST...

A friend of ours runs a fantastic site that archives the history of these timepieces

The Glycine SST might be a reference that some find a little unfamiliar. It's rather large for its day at 41mm in diameter, and its internally rotating bezel adds even more presence than that size would suggest.

The quirky orange color found on this piece is a product of its era (the 1960s to be exact), and it earns the Glycine SST the nickname “Pumpkin”. The “SST” in the name stands for “SuperSonic Transport” as this watch was introduced to celebrate an innovative time for aviation.

One of the most lovable aspects of the watch is the Boeing airplane illustrated on the caseback that serves as a further reminder that this piece was the ultimate commemorative trophy signifying advances in aeronautic travel.

Where Did We Find This One?

For me, this watch was an eBay find. As always, my discovery of this gem was followed by an unrelenting stream of questions flung at the seller.

The seller informed me that this watch belonged to her father, a pilot who wore the Glycine during many missions in the 1960s. The watch was a trusty companion she told me, and her father was never without his Glycine while in the cockpit.

The watch was complete, with its original box and bracelet, and even has service paperwork from when the seller decided to restore the watch to its former glory.

Process of Selling This Piece

After paying a fair price for the piece, it arrived in the mail, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Its condition was impeccable, and the watch was simply one of the coolest pieces I’ve owned, however, it was simply too large to keep.

Knowing this would eventually force me to find a new home for the piece, I was contacted by a buyer in Italy.

The buyer informed me that she’s been looking for this exact model for her husband as a gift. Her husband was a veteran and wore the Glycine SST while on missions in the military. After he completed his service, he was separated from his Glycine Airman, and she felt this watch would be the perfect gift to fill that sentimental void.

Truly One-of-a-Kind

Although my time with the Glycine Airman SST was brief, my memories of the piece are everlasting. It’s the truly incredible timepieces such as this watch that makes watch collecting worth it for me.

Often the sentimental value of a watch transcends its dollar amount or design and wearability, and our appreciation for such pieces is unparalleled. I couldn’t have been happier that this Glycine found its new home with a veteran and someone who’s been searching for one for many years.

Simply put, it makes me happy to know a watch geek like myself will fully enjoy this timepiece for many years to come, and that I was so lucky to have called it mine even for just a short time.

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-JH