A TimeZone Interview with Hans Brechbühler

Managing Director of Glycine Watch SA


TZ: Can you tells us a little about the Glycine’s history?

HB: Glycine was founded in Bienne in 1914. In 1934 we introduced a range of chronometers which passed the official Swiss quality control tests. Glycine maintained production through the war years, and introduced a full line of automatic watches in 1948. The first Airman with 24 hour dial was presented in 1953. Like many companies, we eventually embraced quartz watches, introducing our first quartz line in 1969. The first quartz Airman was introduced in 1979. Last year we introduced a new line of heavy-duty watches for sports and military use. Glycine’s ownership has changed hands only once since it was founded, and that was in 1984. Glycine has been in production continuously since its founding.

TZ: Glycine offers very moderately priced watches. Is value part of the Glycine philosophy?

HB: To offer excellent value at a reasonable price is an important part of our philosophy.


TZ: Can you tell us a little about your own background? How did you get started in the watch business?

HB: As a very young employee I entered in the service of a watch manufacturer in the “Jura” mountains. Since then I never even considered to change trade.


TZ: Was the Airman Glycine’s first pilot’s watch?

HB: Yes, in 1953 the first Airman was produced


TZ: How did Glycine come to be associated with pilots and aviation?

HB: By courtesy of a private connection and then we got “hooked”. The connection was contacts to various Swiss civil and military pilots, then also contacts and exchange of experiences with USA combat pilots who gave some highly valuable information about the needs of a flyer in his cockpit.


TZ: Is the Airman Glycine’s top selling model?

HB: Yes, alternatively with the Incursore and the KMU 48.


TZ: Why do you feel the Airman is so popular?

HB: Because of its proven quality under use.


TZ: Tell us about the new 44 mm Incursore model.

HB: Incursore is the name of the Italian combat swimmers and also two-man torpedo men during the second world war. Their training in the water was extremely hard and long, since they had to operate in cold water for hours, sometimes even days. This small elite unit operated in enemy harbors and around enemy ships and caused damages beyond any relation to their numbers. The English name for Incursore is Intruder.

TZ: Can you tell us a bit about the history of the 48 mm KMU 48?

HB: The KMU 48 is a remake of a famous range of military watches, adapted to modern technology and taste.



TZ: I understand you are offering a special black dial KMU 48 with Cotes de Geneve decorated movement. Is it a new addition to Glycine’s line?

HB: Yes, a trial serial is being offered to the market at a consumer price of US$ 855 with leather strap, and US$ 932 with solid steel bracelet.


TZ: What movement does this KMU 48 use?

HB: KMU uses the UNITAS 6497 three hands movement .


TZ: Glycine seems to be producing some of the largest watch lines at 42, 44 and even 48 millimeters in diameter. Why do you think large watches, and especially pilot’s and military watches, are so popular today?

HB: The watch business has gone back to its roots and the fascination with mechanical timepieces is very strong today. The remake of models used during wartime entails big diameters of the case and well readable dials. The watches being worn often on the sleeve of the sport or diver jacket. The style of these watches teams up with the today’s trend for out-door adventures.


TZ: When did Glycine launch its website?

HB: The first website launched in 1996


TZ: How do you think the internet will affect the distribution and sale of watches?

HB: We trust that the internet will have a very strong influence on our sales figures.


TZ: Have you ever visited TimeZone?

HB: Yes.


TZ: What do you think if it?

HB: The photographs are splendid and the whole website seems very professional to us.


TZ: Do you feel there is one watch in current production that best embodies Glycine’s philosophy?

HB: The Airman and the Incursore embody best the philosophy of Glycine.


TZ: Does Glycine have anything special planned for the year 2000? Are there any new developments ahead that you can tell us about?

HB: At the Basel Fair 2000 Glycine will present quite some new creations in the mechanical range.