Have you ever been looking for that perfect watch for a specific purpose? That is what I thought this Glycine Combat Sub Gilt was going to be. No, I am not talking about a grail watch, I have a much different definition of what a grail item is, as that term has just become ubiquitous with the next watch on the list for most people, and that is not what I consider a grail. No, I just wanted a very specific watch, an every day, do anything, go with anything type of watch. The one you can wear with a suit if need be, the one that can be worn with jeans and a t-shirt and that can be worn for pretty much anything that you are doing. One that is slim, lightweight, easily readable, and of course very comfortable. I landed on the Glycine Combat Sub, especially the newer versions like this one, because as I will explain in this review, the older models had a few features I did not care for, and this seemed to check all the boxes.
Unfortunately, I will most likely not be keeping this watch, and there are a few reasons for that, but let’s start off with a little background on these Glycine Combat Sub watches. There are so many variations of these models these days, it would be impossible to list them all, and there are non-diver versions as well, but I think it is safe to say the most popular models are clearly the divers and for quite a long time, the 42mm was the only size. Nowadays though, you can get versions of these watches in almost any size. 42, 48, 39, and even 36. They are not copy and paste versions though, as there are differences between the sizes, and you may find a 39mm you love, but it’s just too small and you won’t find that version in 42mm, at least not yet.
Bronze, PVD, high polish, fully brushed, quartz, GMT, and as shown here the 3 hand is all available under the Glycine Combat Sub lineup but this version shown here is more kind of a vintage-inspired model, and the first thing you may notice if you have been buying these watches for a long time is this lacks the 24 hour time on the dial, something most of the older models always had. This one looks a little more like a Tudor Black Bay 58, though this is bigger at 42mm vs 39mm, black dial and gilt bezel, and gilt markers do remind one of the Black Bay.
Now for those that are not aware (I was shocked that there are those that don’t) as this is six-year-old news, Invicta currently owns Glycine. This was and is still a big deal to some, and I will fully admit that I was hesitant when I heard that info 6 years ago, but in that time I have seen all the releases and honestly, I haven’t seen anything to give me pause. Glycine is said to still be independently operated and Invicta is just paying the bills.
So if you are familiar with these watches, you know these have always had a very slim profile and that has not changed. What has changed on some of these newer models is the case finish. The older models always had polished case sides and a polished case back, which is one of the things I did not care for on these watches, especially a watch dubbed “combat”, it just made little sense. Beyond that, I am just not someone who likes a lot of polish on my watches, outside of a dress watch. This 11.5mm slim case is fully satin-brushed topped to bottom and I have to say they did a pretty decent job with this as well.
The case shape and design have not changed, the oversize crown is still here on the Glycine Combat Sub Gilt and I have to say, this is one of my favorite features of this watch. The crown is extremely easy to grip and turn and it feels more solid than watches that you find 3 times its price. Speaking of price, you probably saw in the specifications above I paid $379 for this version. MSRP on these is more than 3 times that but you need to look around because you can find massive discounts on these watches, so never pay full retail. These are usually not grey market dealers either, as I purchased this from Ashford.com, and it is a genuine Glycine with the Glycine warranty. Different models may have different prices but at least in the 3-hand models, you shouldn’t be paying over $500 for one.
This example is the gilt dial and bezel, with a black dial and aluminum bezel insert and there is also a blue version of this one, as well as a brown dial and even a dark green dial with a green strap. There are also identical bronze versions of this watch, the only change being that the case is made of bronze. The dial is pretty simple and clean, a matte black dial, with a standard date window at 3 o’clock and just a touch of color with the red text stating Sub and the water resistance.
The bezel is pretty much the same as the old models as well, no ceramic inserts yet and to be honest, I am not always the biggest fan of ceramic or sapphire bezels. I know many are because of the scratch resistance but I just not sure if it would look good on these watches, and if they did decide to go ceramic at some point, I would hope they did matte ceramic instead of polished. The bezel action is perfect, and when I say perfect I mean it. It is so easy to grip the coin edge bezel and it turns easily but is not easy to move once in place, so you really shouldn’t have to worry about accidentally knocking the bezel out of alignment from where you last set it.
This particular model of the Glycine Combat Sub comes on a rubber strap only, not the stainless steel bracelet, at least not that I have seen. This was a bonus to me, as I did not want the bracelet, as I just wanted something thin and lightweight. If you want one on a bracelet, this could incur more money, as they are not cheap, even if bought through sites like www.gnonom.com
This strap is a big improvement over the old models that used Bonetto Cinturini straps, and those particular straps were on the thick side and while natural rubber, took some time to wear in. These straps on the other hand are thin, extremely flexible, and attractive as well. I am not sure of the rubber compound but these are not silicone, and they are finished off with a nice signed thick stainless steel buckle.
But as much as I love the strap, the strap is one of my problems with this watch, in fact, it is one of the big reasons I may be moving it on. This issue is common with watch straps, I am sure you have all been there before. Put it in one hole and it’s too loose and the next hole up it is too tight. With it being loose, that big crown digs into the back of my hand constantly. No workaround. I am not about to punch a hole in the strap either, and of course, there are other strap options out there, I’ve even contemplated an Erika’s Original for it, but in the end, I really like this strap and the way it looks on the watch, and really don’t want to switch it out. I have a 7 1/2 inch wrist and it looks great, one could say perfect as far as dimensions, but it just doesn’t fit my wrist right, at least not with this strap.
Before I get to the other issue (spoiler, it’s the lume), let’s discuss movement. Glycine always used the ETA 2824 in the Glycine Combat Sub, but we all know the issues with getting those movements in bulk nowadays, so depending on how old the model is that you purchase, you will either get an ETA 2824 or SW200-1. I believe most of the new stock is Sellita, which is not probable for me, as I have never personally had an issue with this movement, but I know there are complaints and valid issues with winding because the teeth in the ratchet gear can wear down if you hand wind this movement often.
So, yes, the lume is not that great. Actually, some would say it is poor. I don’t know If I would go that far, as the hands will glow fairly bright and for a good amount of time, but the lume on the indices is not good at all. C1 SuperLuminova is what is used and they really need to bump these Glycine Combat Sub models up to C3. There is a vintage version as they dub it of these watches, which have textured dials and an offset date, these use vintage or patina lume and from the reviews, I have seen, the lume is much better on those, so it’s not like they are not able to deliver good lume on a Combat model.
Look, regardless of my issues, this still has to be one of the best values out there. This gilt dial was not exactly my first choice, but an all-stainless with stainless hands and markers with the brushed case was not available (and I still don’t believe one is), so I went with the gold and it has grown on me, and I’ll admit is quite attractive and I could live with the weak lume, but not being able to have a watch wear comfortably is an issue, especially for a watch that I wanted to be an everyday type of watch, one that is thin, lightweight but dependable and reliable.
It didn’t work out for me, but as I said, there are a crazy amount of variations of these watches out there, something for everyone and if you get a good price, I’m sure you will be happy with one. I may try another version in the future, I may even try the vintage model with the patina lume, but maybe I’ll opt for the bracelet on that one. Either way, with all it offers, it’s understandable why so many own one of these and why Glycine keeps making more variations and more sizes of the Glycine Combat Sub.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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Good review. I agree with all you said. I’ve had this model for a few years and find it very Toyota-like, reliable, but a little boring. Would I feel the same way about the Tudor Black Bay? At least now, I’m getting the BB experience for a lot less money.
Depends on which Black Bay you get. I wasn’t overly fond of the BB I reviewed a few years ago, but it was sent on a leather strap instead of a bracelet, but I can easily say the finishing of the watch was leaps above the Glycine, as it should be. But the one I had did not wow me personally. Maybe the BB58, on a bracelet, with the black bezel and red pip etc, would be nicer, though I am not a fan of the rivet style bracelets in general, so I don’t know. I would definitely go look at some Tudor’s in person if you can.
I agree: it’s no grail watch but a much-perfect-must-have watch for rotation.
I have a quartz version of it. Ronda movement with 5 years of battery life – I thought this would fit although from price I paid no difference.
The only thing I think could be improved, is the clasp of the stainless steel bracelet, if we reconsider it’s official MRSP. But for 240-300 bucks, the clasp is also okay.
Very nice watch. I didn’t know of the Tudor BB58 when I bought it. I just thought, “I want a glycine, and I prefer a diver to an Airman in general.
Thankd for your review.
Nice to hear you enjoying yours. Yes, any of the Combat Subs are a very good watch, especially for price paid.