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A Brief History of Glycine

Glycine IncursoreGlycine is one of a very few watch brands that has been producing watches in their factory in Bienne, Switzerland, continuously since their founding by Eugene Meylan in 1914. Their first customers were prosperous gentlemen who valued Glycine watches as miniature works of art and engineering and treasured their luxurious gold and platinum cases.Although the Depression of the 1930s and the beginning of World War II put a heavy toll on the company, Glycine was able to continue production, and in 1938 the company was one of only 29 exhibitors at the Basel Fair, the world's most important watch exhibition. Glycine has not missed a Basel Fair since then and proves as a testament to the brand and its will to succeed in the manufacture of there watches.After WW IIIn 1945, with the war over and access to world markets again possible, the industry took a deep breath. Immediately, Glycine geared up production and rapidly presented a complete range of automatic (self-winding) watches, making use of the most advanced technologies.1952 saw the birth of the famous VACUUM chronometers, watches known for their incredible resistance to water and shocks, designed for long-term use under hostile conditions. They performed well beyond expectations.In 1953, the AIRMAN line was presented to the world market and immediately received an enthusiastic welcome. Now, in addition to regular local time, world time was available at a glance. The steadily growing class of jet-setters and frequent travellers readily took to the convenience of having two time zones on their wrist. The AIRMAN line has never been absent from the Glycine selection, and is, today more than ever, the spearhead of the range.The CrisisIn the 70s, the Swiss watch industry – late in introducing quartz movements - was hit by the proliferation of quartz watches from the Far East. The technological revolution brought about by the quartz movement, together with the worldwide recession and a massive increase in value of the Swiss franc, pushed many manufacturers to the brink of disaster.The products that had earned Glycine such an excellent reputation, namely high-quality mechanical watches and above all automatic watches, were suddenly no longer in general demand. Customers everywhere were buying Japanese quartz watches or American digital LED watches. The lucrative business with highly-regarded automatic watches was over, and these were now being sold off at give-away prices.The market went through a turnaround in its values, a tendency which further intensified as the price for the initially exorbitantly expensive quartz watches consistently dropped to a level where it finally drove even the cheap pin-pallet (Roskopf) mechanical movements out of the market. Many market shares were lost, the industry entered into a crisis that lasted six years and cost roughly 60,000 jobs.Glycine too suffered heavily but managed to fight on. In 1984, soldiering on with a reduction in staff, Glycine was sold to Hans Brechbühler, who had been working for years with Glycine in a loose cooperation based on the joint development and exchange of watch models.The Come-BackFollowing the purchase of Glycine in 1984, Brechbühler switched over to the brand watch business, an entirely new experience for him. Progressively, new products were developed that enabled Glycine to work successfully in countries such as Scandinavia, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Germany.A quartz collection was created and an international network of agencies sprang to life again. Extremely resistant watches, such as the TJALK and heavy duty models, were launched and added to the portfolio of the brand.The market accepted with pleasure the Gold shield range, featuring a standard of goldplating much higher than anything the competitors could present. The sophisticated super-thin AMARANTH watches received an enthusiastic welcome in Europe and the USA.The new strategies employed began to pay off in the early 1990s when Brechbühler's daughter Katherina, born in 1962, joined the company and successfully implemented her own brand concept, resulting in mechanical products being increasingly integrated into the company’s collections. This strategy proved effective in positioning Glycine as a specialist, with a long tradition in the field of mechanical watch making.After initial success in Germany, the first to really accept the mechanical watches on a large scale, the new range of Glycine products spread to other countries through out Europe and the globe.

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