By: Evan Kaspar
The landscape of modern dive watch design is a crowded one. It’s such a popular genre that most manufacturers have at least one example in their lineup. Many brands try hard to present something different, something to make their watch more compelling than the competition, and some go the homage route. While the watch in review today is not revolutionary in design or specifications, I very much feel that the attention given to this one makes it stand out head and shoulders above many other good dive watches.
Glycine has been manufacturing watches since its founding in Bienne, Switzerland, in 1914. They’re probably best known for their Airman line of pilot and GMT watches, which were used extensively by the US military and even taken into space. The Combat line, including the Sub dive watch, has been in production since 1967.
In 2016 Glycine was purchased by Invicta, to the horror of many a WIS. Thankfully, the black predictions of decrease in quality seem to be much ado about nothing. The model I am reviewing in this article is a post-Invicta-purchase watch.
We’ll begin this review with the external, physical aspects of the watch, starting with dimensions (measured by myself with digital calipers).
- Case diameter: 42.2mm
- Lug tip to lug tip: 50mm
- Lug width: 22mm
- Thickness, including crystal: 10.5mm
One dimension should jump out at you from that list- the 10.5mm thickness. To my knowledge, this is one of the thinnest 200m automatic dive watch in production today. The case benefits from this thinness by being very smooth and straight-sided without appearing slab or puck-like at all.
One of the other strengths of the Glycine Combat Sub’s case design (and in my opinion one of the best aspects of the watch in general) is how down-swept the lugs are. For most wrists in the 6.5-7.5 range, 50mm from lug tip to lug tip can be a real crapshoot for wearability. Straight, non-curved lugs tend to hover over the sides of the wrist and make the watch look “perched” on top. The Glycine Combat Sub, on the other hand, absolutely nails this tricky detail, and I’m often amazed to look down at my wrist and realize I’m wearing a 42mm x 50mm watch. I think it wears smaller than its size due to this (and the thinness), and it definitely wears more comfortably than many other similar-sized watches.
Drilled lugs are a great feature on this watch as well, as is the crown size- large enough to feel substantial, but not too large for the watch’s svelte profile. The crown guards likewise are nicely swept and beveled on top, coming almost to points and providing protection without adding visual bulk.
The bezel is beveled outwards, but very slightly – the immediate effect is more of a flat bezel. It uses a 60 click mechanism, has an aluminum insert and a narrow coin-edge rim. The bezel on my watch is quite stiff and the click is very solid and pronounced, with no backplay at all. The bezel is aligned perfectly with the dial markers. Although for some reason they’re thought of less highly than their 120 click brothers, I’m a big fan of 60 click bezels. They tend to be very precise, and it’s great to know it’s exactly on the minute no matter how many clicks you turn it.
An interesting feature of this bezel is the small raised nub on the coin edge at 12:00. It gives you a little extra purchase when turning the bezel and makes it easy to find where the mark is in relation to the dial.
Something that always jumps out at me about this watch is how clear and legible it is, and some of this is due to the completely flat AR-coated (inside) sapphire crystal, as with no curves at the edges and no dome reflections it’s almost completely invisible even from sharp angles. While I like a domed crystal as much as anyone, I think the flat crystal on this watch is a great decision. The dial itself is a lovely matte gray, with a 24 hour scale inside the lumed indices.
A date window sits at 3:00 and is perfectly color-matched to the dial. The handset is well lumed, simple, and legible, and I like the bit of flare with the boxy second hand. Lume on this watch is excellent; not Seiko-flashlight-like, but more than adequate throughout an entire night.
Powering the watch is of course the classic, reliable Swiss ETA 2824 automatic movement, although Glycine refers to it as the GL224. Not much needs to be said about these movements; they are tough, refined, and capable of excellent accuracy. When I bought my Combat Sub it was keeping time at +20 spd, which is within spec and not terrible, but with a bit of easy regulation (done by myself- my first time opening up an automatic watch) it keeps time consistently at +6spd.
The included classic oyster bracelet is excellent but unremarkable. The solid endlinks are good to have, and the gently curved link geometry is aesthetically pleasing, as is the milled, signed, push-button clasp. The bracelet tapers from 22mm to 20mm at the clasp. Personally I would love if it had more taper as I think it would better suit the elegance of the watch, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. The big downside of the bracelet is the pin-and-collar link attachments- they aren’t fun to deal with in any bracelet and the Glycine is no exception. Pin and collar notwithstanding, the bracelet is easily on par with any sub-$1k Swiss offering.
Unusually for me, I don’t wear this watch on the bracelet very often, because with the downswept lugs it looks and wears wonderfully on a NATO strap.
As a tool watch I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on an actual dive – the stiffness and thinness of the bezel is the only thing that would give me pause, as all bezels are more difficult to operate with wet or gloved hands. For everyday wear, it sits low enough on the wrist that it doesn’t attract doorknobs or hard edges.
On the other hand with the thin profile and classic dive watch looks it will look great in almost any dressed up situation as well.
• 22mm Lug Width
• ETA 2824 Automatic Movement
• Sapphire Crystal (AR Coating)
• 200 Meter Water Resistance
• Price: $400 – $600
This watch makes me feel excited when I look at it. Many people admire and pursue the Rolex Submariner for its unique blend of polish and purpose, and I really feel that this watch achieves that same fusion – a feeling made warmer by the fact that it’s a unique and well-thought out original design! I’m not a James Bond aficionado, but when I look at and wear this watch I feel what I think most people do when they think of Bond, or of the iconic watches he wore; elegant refinement and rugged readiness, confidence and appropriateness in any situation. It’s really exciting to see a watch that gets all this so right, and especially one that does so creatively, and at an accessible price point.
There are a variety of different Glycine Combat Subs on Amazon, ranging from $400 – $600 USD. Some popular models have been shared below.
24 thoughts on “Glycine Combat Sub Review”
I’d be the first to admit that the purchase of the brand by the Invicta Watch Group has soured my interest in the Combat Sub. Now, that I’ve read your review, I think that perhaps I should re-consider my position on that. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks David! I’m a huge fan of the brand. Their designs just get so much right- and I’ve not seen anything to complain about yet on the materials or QC side.
I bought one recently, too. Interestingly, mine 1 does not have drilled lugs, and 2 has the Glycine logo, not the Invicta logo, on the face. I really like mine, can’t believe this watch goes for this price.
Thank god their still made in switzeeland….
What is happening to glycine? I noticed on their site that they brought back the old logo as well that 3 of the 5 models are gone? Did they leave invicta?
Glycine Watch SA was ordered to abstain from using its current logo because it could be confused with the logo of the luxury label Giorgio Armani.
I don’t think so. From what I read, the winged logo was created for the Anniversary celebration (can’t recall which year though), so now they have gone back to their old logo. To me, the winged logo is some kind of limited release, and I am glad to have a Sub with that logo in my collection.
What did you do to regulate the movement? Mine is about +15 spd and I’d love get it more accurate
The Glycine Combat Sub is currently one of my favorite watches. They are hard to beat for the money.
After the frustration of missing out on Helm and Zelos watches I stumbled across a review of this watch. Quality, legibility, comfort and styling are perfect in my eyes and I’m very glad now I didn’t end up with another 14mm thick diver. An absolute bargain when in the USD300-350 range.
As far as I know Glycine is now, and has been for a while, using Sellita SW-200 movements. (but still calling them GL224) The drilled lugs are only on some of the Combat Sub models
Got my GL0249 bracelet model for $329 effectively 75% off UK retail, very Impressed for the money. Keeps time to within a few seconds a day. Got a decent rubber strap and swap between the two. Finishing whilst not absolutely top drawer is excellent at the price point I paid! Not sure it would be worth the full retail price of just shy of £1k in uk, but still a great watch that is comfortable and durable.
I just bought this watch, with the old –now new again–logo. I got the vintage 42 sub. Two shades of blue, Explorer-esque dial design. It is a great piece, I love it. Super solid, decently heavy and very comfortable. Glad to support this historic and under-the-radar (sort of) brand.
Just bought my first Glycine Combat – the gl0094. The blue bezel is very dark and in some light appears black. Mine came with drilled lugs. The strap that came with it was very stiff and almost impossible to use. My guess is that it would break in given time. I swapped it out for a Strapcode endmill bracelet that I have and it looks and wears outstanding. Very pleased so far. It will be interesting to check the accuracy.
I own one and love it. The finishing is so good, it’s like a much more expensive watch. One of my 30 watches, and one of the ones I wear most often.
I have been eyeing the combat sub for some time. I purchased a airman dc-4 at the bottom of Glycines value because of it’s sale to invicta and it’s selling price is now much higher. The quality of my airman is outstanding. I have multiple divers but may purchase a co bat sub anyway. Hopefully before the secret gets out and prices skyrocket ala sei,o sarbs…….
Although you stated yours arrived with the eta movement as far as I know they are using the sellita sw200-1. I have 2 glycines and the combat 6 has an exhibition caseback showing the 26 jewel sellita.
I’m not sure when the switch was made but I would assume it was after the invicta purchase. They use the same glycine movement number for some reason, I don’t know why they decided not to change it as it causes confusion.
I own the bronze combat sub with the vintage dial. Mine has a 120 click bezel and unfortunately no drilled lugs.
I’ve had my combat sub for about a month and I’m truly smitten. The quality is exceptional for the price. Mine does not have drilled lugs. GL0278, and yes, I have 7.5″+ wrist. In fact, 38s look like absolute toys on my hamhocks.
I’ve just bought a 2016, (could be pre or post Invicta), example with box and papers, at my local auction house for £280. The watch is a spotless absolute minter, and is superbly finished for the price point it normally sells at. It will go straight into my weekly watch rotation, and will replace my Black Bay as my go-to watch when I’m in London for football, and have to beware of pickpockets etc.
Just purchased my Combat Sub from Costco for $300 (!) on a branded NATO strap. I threw a $55 Strapcode oyster band on it and it looks and wears great, and I’m running about +5 seconds a day.
My only “wish they did it different” is that they are still using aluminum bezel inserts, when there are tons of watches at that price point that use ceramic.
For less than a hundred more than a Seiko 5 SRPD 4R36 through Amazon, this is one of the most incredible bargains in tool watches and I can’t speak highly enough of it.
Trust me, I’m not an expert, but I own a TAG with 2824-2, and a Glycine Combat GL224. Unequivocally, the TAG sweep is decidedly smoother than the Glycine. The Lume is obviously much more pronounced, and the lugs and crown mentioned as original, are remarkably similar to my 2000 series aquaracer.
I own the Combat Sub GL0077. I have a smaller wrist and this watch sits perfectly. The watch molds to my hand. It stays out of the way until needed. It slides perfectly under a shirt and coat. It never snags. The fit cannot be understated. It’s thin but appropriately heavy. It wears better than my (much) more expensive watches.
It’s accurate to 6spd. It’s HACKABLE.
It’s INDESTRUCTIBLE. ITS Waterproof.
It’s shown absolutely no signs of wear with the exception of the clasp after 6 months. I’m Combat level active with this watch and I highly recommend it.
If you want a watch to trust in the real world, you have a small wrist, and desire automatic, this is it.
You can find these for $400 new if you wait for a sale.
Nice review of a beautiful watch, I’m thinking about purchasing one and browsing for reviews this article struck me because this is the exact model I had in mind. Thanks for the nice review.
They have them at Costco for $239 with a NATO strap. For this price it seems like a great deal. It’s only about $60 more than the Seiko at Costco. It’s a bargain with either movement.