Here we have, a rare vintage Glycine Combat 645 from 1968 who’s history has been lost in the “Jungles of Time”.
Missing in Action, presumed dead?
Just like the soldier in the jungle who was lost in Action, only to appear years later, asking if the war was over? The original Glycine Combat watch was lost in time, overshadowed no-doubt by the success of the Airman; only to appear years later as a complete range of modern re-iteration watches! Look at the “Vintage” Combat 6 (below) and you will see what we mean.
Vintage Combat 6
Glycine was established in 1914, so is a respected historical brand. It produced watches at its factory in Bienne, Switzerland, and were renowned for their small, accurate movements; and were often compared to Omega and Rolex for their timekeeping capabilities. For an in-depth read about Glycine’s history, visit http://www.glycintennial.com, a brilliant source for all things Glycine; and of course, https://glycine-watch.ch/glycine/history/.
However, Glycine the company, has passed through several owner’s hands; and therefore, a lot of their historical information has been lost. When researching the Combat, there is scant information on the Internet. There are reports of only 100 being made, or perhaps 1000. We have no idea, but if this were true, then this is a very rare watch indeed!
Our Glycine Combat is in extremely fine fettle for a 51-year-old watch. It has the iconic matt black face with 24-hour numerals on an inside chapter as you would expect with a military style watch. The outer 12-hour luminous Arabic numeral hour-markers have that beautiful cream patina that only time, and old Tritium creates. The lume’s glow is missing in action, confirmed dead.
We love quirky details which add to a watches charm. The date window on the Combat truncates the “5” of the fifteen-hundred-hour marker, creating a wonderful design element that is easily missed.
The hands are original, and they too retain their luminous tritium infill; even the lollipop seconds hand is intact! Again, the lume is long dead.
Case wise, the matt Stainless-Steel body is almost unmarked with crisp lines between case and lug, showing it is unpolished. The crown too, is original, and has the classic cross-hatch finish with deep indents.
The polished steel case back shows light scratching and striations from where the watch has been worn on a NATO strap. It is engraved “645” with the serial number (967113) below. This serial number dates the watch to 1968; what is believed to be the last year of production. From what we can ascertain, these watches were only made for two years – 1967 and 1968.
The original strap is long gone, so we present it on a Desert Sand NATO strap with black buckle and strap retaining bars. In our opinion, the perfect match.
As a watch, the Glycine Combat has no actual military provenance, but then again, neither did the Airman. However, the Airman was popular with USAF personnel during the Vietnam war, as it was built with their specific requirements in mind.
Perhaps therefore, the Combats failing in period, was that it was competing with the Seiko 6105-8110; affectionately known as the “Captain Willard”.
The Seiko 6105 was introduced in 1968 and during the Vietnam War, US servicemen were able to purchase it at their Post Exchanges in South East Asia. The Seiko was a larger and perhaps more robust watch than the Combat. It was more “exotic”, and it was probably cheaper too. We have one of these for sale too! – https://thechronoduo.co.uk/watches/seiko-6105-8110/
The Seiko gained the nickname of “Willard” after Martin Sheen’s character of Captain Benjamin Willard was seen wearing it in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War epic, Apocalypse Now.
Throughout his Seiko is seen as he hunts down one insane, Marlon Brando! If only he had chosen to wear a Glycine Combat instead; what a different story we could tell!
Finally, Glycine have woken up and are taking note of their history. The modern re-creations of the Combat are lovely but can never capture the purity of the original. We would always choose original over re-iteration. We hope you do too.