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Historic Glycine Watches Acquired By Invicta

Historic Glycine Watches Acquired By Invicta Watch Industry News

Acquisitions are rarely a surprise in this day and age, and especially in this industry, but we'd be lying if we said we weren't at least a bit surprised to learn that the majority stake of Glycine Watch S.A. has just been sold to the Invicta Watch Group. As pioneers in world-timing aviation watches, Glycine brings over a century of quirky, independent watchmaking to the Invicta name, which itself was also a longstanding family-operated Swiss brand until later purchased in 1991 by a United States-based investment firm.

Speaking to both the past and present, Glycine's most significant entry to watchmaking has long been the Airman – a 24-hour tool watch that soared to popularity amongst commercial and military pilots in the fifties and sixties due to its rugged build quality and ability to track multiple time zones with its unique locking bi-directional 24-hour bezel. Little has changed, even in later iterations of the Airman, which are still available with the same bezel and in the original "purist" 24-hour form preferred by pilots. The brand's contributions to horology weren't limited to design, but they were largely reserved for the Airman platform, whose earliest iterations were fitted with the Felsa Bidynator – the world's first automatic movement built around a bi-directional winding rotor. Glycine was also one of the first three companies capable of manufacturing automatic watches on a mass scale – a distinction shared with Harwood and Autorist.

Historic Glycine Watches Acquired By Invicta Watch Industry News

Vintage Glycine Airman (Photograph by Eddie Boschma in the book Glycine Airman by André Stikkers)

Glycine was widely reported to be majority family-controlled since its conception in 1914, but the brand was actually quietly scooped up in 2014 by market expansion group DKSH, with the aim of broadening Glycine's reach in Asian territories. So while the story hasn't been met with universal enthusiasm by diehard Glycine fans, it overlooks the fact that Glycine also hasn't been privately held for some time – and the portfolio changing hands is business as usual when it comes to the watch industry. However, Invicta's less-than-sterling track record in certain segments of the watch community makes this a trepidatious alignment for longtime Glycine fans.

Historic Glycine Watches Acquired By Invicta Watch Industry News

Some current Invicta watches

In fact, Invicta's initial excitement over the announcement was met with a chilly reception on social media from Glycine fans – so much so, that Invicta's Facebook and Instagram posts were quickly removed, perhaps indicating a level of sensitivity to feedback from Glycine's existing base of fans and vintage collectors. However, Invicta's CEO Eyal Lalo has assured fans that he has "no intention of disrupting the quality and long history that made Glycine the respected brand that it is today." He went on to say "we will support Glycine while maintaining its independence and rich Swiss heritage," but how that pertains to positioning, design, or distribution remains entirely to be seen.

Historic Glycine Watches Acquired By Invicta Watch Industry News

"Glycine will stay Glycine," says Glycine CEO Stephen Lack. "There are absolutely no intentions to have a mixture of the two brands. Glycine will stay a Swiss brand producing mainly automatic Swiss watches at a very attractive price point," he continued, insisting that since the two brands do not share target markets, there's no reason that their marketing or pricing strategies would be shared. The watch world is no stranger to strategic mergers and acquisitions – hell, some of the industry's greatest success stories stemmed from an acquisition that brought with it all the resources and fresh perspective that only a healthy partnership could provide. Lack fully understands that survival in this industry has always required, and will continue to require a dynamic, modernized brand – a belief reinforced by this partnership.

Historic Glycine Watches Acquired By Invicta Watch Industry News

Modern Glycine Airman Base 22 watches

It's obviously far too early to report on Citizen's recent acquisition of Frederique-Constant, but for Glycine fans still not convinced, bear in mind that Citizen has already done an admirable job reinvigorating Bulova – especially if the return of the excellent Moon Watch is any indicator. And when you survey the watch industry as a whole, you'll quickly notice that many of our favorite brands are already amongst the holdings of conglomerates like LVMH (Bulgari, Hublot, TAG Heuer, Zenith), Swatch (Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Omega), and Richmont (A. Lange & Söhne, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai) whose portfolios are broad enough to compete with even each other in select markets.

The next few moves for Invicta are important ones – nearly as critical for the coming months for the Glycine camp, where we could see a fresh invigoration of the brand, or a relegation to the "could-have-been" annuls of pre-takeover watchmaking. Either way, we'll be keeping a close eye on this one. glycine-watch.ch

About the Author

Zach is a writer and editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His appreciation for watches stems around their ability to inherently tell a story about their wearer, simultaneously representing both a journey, and a particular moment in time. As a genuine gear nerd with an affinity for large bodies of water, he loves getting his hands dirty, sweaty, or submerged with anything that’s been purpose-built for the task at hand.

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  • Sheez Gagoo

    So there is still Maurice Lacroix on sale from DKSH…

  • G. O. Rilla

    So much for my plans to buy a Glycene. Invicta is obscene.

    • Chaz

      Invicta collectors worldwide will be incensed!

    • Robert Smith

      You bet, Rilla. An affront to this hobby.

  • Berndt Norten

    This is like Two Buck Chuck buying Lafite or Latour

    • thumper702

      +1.

      “Good news today for passionate Ferrari owners, as the exotic Italian brand has just been acquired by Hyundai…”

      • commentator bob

        That would be a step forward in reliabilty from the current Fiat ownership of Ferrari.

        • Bert Kanne

          I believe Ferrari separated from Fiat and went public. Fiat in the USA has been a dismal flop. Half their dealers loose money, many are closing. Their latest 124 Spider is based on the Miata with a Fiat engine and tweaks. This type of business model hopefully will not continue to invade the watch industry, but economics will do otherwise.

    • The Old Watcheroo

      Up Next: Nomos bought by Movado Group

  • Sarthak Sharma

    The end of a great brand.

    • Berndt Norten

      Let’s hope not. Sometimes wealth acquired in less than ‘honourable’ fashion (or however one chooses to frame it) can be laundered and put to good use. Also, think of the cognac analogy. You might look down on entry level Hennessy, as I do. But the deep pockets the company has built up over several generations has enabled it to cater to all ends of the spectrum. There’s no false choice between mass production and the high end. Anyone who has tasted Richard Hennessy or Hennessy Extra Paradis knows what I’m talking about!!!

      • Chaz

        Excellent points. WE can just wait with fingers X’d

        • Berndt Norten

          or… fingers XO’d (!!!)

    • Let’s not forget that the damage might have already been done – 2014’s acquisition by DKSH flooded the grey market and forced many ADs to drop the brand. A best-case scenario here would be seeing Invicta’s influence and marketing dollars empower, and pull a great brand back from the brink where it’s already been teetering.

      • Boogur T. Wang

        As mentioned, Glycine has enjoyed a much increased presence, and sales, in the Asian market.
        I think this may be an infusion of much needed money and technology connections that will do all good.
        Of course, I am the eternal optimist.

  • laup nomis

    Tata cars makers of such delights as the indica, own Jaguar. And Jaguar have been pretty good lately.
    So if Invicta stay out of it Glycine should be okay. Fingers crossed.

  • Chaz

    Seriously though…Glycine was a niche brand to begin with. How many of you own a modern Glycine? I have a vintage Airman and have no desire to own a new one.

    I love how NON owners or POSSIBLE future “considerers” get bent out of shape when something shifts in the universe of their particular favorite brand. Where were you when the brand needed you?

    Also, how many brands out there are ALREADY under ownership of some group or individual that we don’t know about and would freak if we found out?

    Perhaps this is a GOOD thing for Glycine despite the fact that most things, when acquired by Americans, tend to be doomed…

    • commentator bob

      I got really close to buying a Glycine Airman Base 22 with the black/blue gradient dial and mesh bracelet, but the Base 22 on the dial bothered me (it has some logic since this is the 22nd generation of the base Airman, but still looks goofy).

  • Shawn Lavigne

    I just don’t see the analogy between Citizen buying Bulova and Invicta buying Glycine. Citizen rocks, and appears to be slowly giving some cred to Bulova. Invicta sucks, and will surely take Glycine down with it.

    • Chaz

      Or they’ll use Glycine as a platform to shed the “sucks” image? Though their “sucks” image sells a crap load of watches for them, apparently.

      Bottom line is…the bottom line. It’s all bidness.

      • An example of your position (in the car world) might be Tata owning Jaguar.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          I am completely ashamed of that fact.I was in India recently drinking TATA mineral water ! .

          • sfbaydawg221

            So what is so bad about Tata owning Jaguar as opposed to Ford? IMHO the brand is doing relatively better under Tata than Ford. And without either, Jaguar would have been done and dusted much like Austin, MG, Rover.

            And Tata vehicles and Tata mineral water? How is that any different than Jeff Bezos selling groceries on Amazon, owning the Washington Post and send vehicles to space?

            I think you are just bitter about the fact that British industry is a has-been.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            That’s exactly the reason. Nothing against TATA per say.

        • Bert Kanne

          Volkswagen owns Bentley as well. Many small players in huge markets need the resources of much bigger companies to thrive in this increasingly competitive and fragmented world marketplace. If managed correctly by Invicta, Glycine should do fine.

          • Yeah, there are plenty of examples of how it can work out OK (lesser but larger brands owning smaller more luxurious brands). So I hope you are right in this case, but I will have doubts until we see how it really goes. I’m afraid Invicta levels of repair service will sink poor Glycine.

          • Chaz

            Invicta repairs? I thought they just gave you a new watch?

    • Citizen also has done a good job of not screwing up Arnold & Son as well as its companion company La Joux Perret (movement maker). So there is a glimmer of hope for Glycine, but I’m with you – I’m not optimistic.

  • Thus driving up the resale price of my pre- Invicta Combat Sub.

  • Larry Holmack

    Hummm….I’m wondering how soon Glycine will end up on that Home Shopping Channel that sells Invicta’s? Maybe we’ll be able to purchase one using their 6 easy payments plan? Hey….who doesn’t like a payment plan!

  • commentator bob

    Citizen is hard to compare because it is a well repsected brand on its own. Invicta not so much. That said, Fossil has done really great work with Zodiac.

  • word-merchant

    To educate myself, I took a look at the Invicta website. Oh dear. It’s like they gave pictures of the Hublot range to a party of eight year olds, force-fed them Red Bull and Ritalin, gave them a box of crayons, and told them to do their best. Who buys these watches?

    • Berndt Norten

      Classic. I am reminded of the hilarious comment by …??? on that Hublot ? launch, with the various ‘celebrities’ and assorted types looking awkward. Does anyone remember that classic post?

    • One of my wife’s friends has a husband who collect Invictas. But points out that he now only purchases “Invicta Reserve” pieces. He told me this over dinner a few years ago and I did not know whether to laugh or cry (but being “dinner table polite”, I did neither). Love your description of the Invicta design process!

      • laup nomis

        Just googled Invicta Reserve. My eyes now hurt and I’m feeling queasy. Novel, colourful designs…

      • Berndt Norten

        It’s like having dinner with people who think that their little Bose wave box is the latest word in sound reproduction. One must grin and bear it.

      • Shinytoys

        I’m a little surprised at you Mark, Invicta represents many things to different people. But if nothing else, they are masters of marketing. If Invicta came knocking on your door and was interested in buying your watch line, either as a partner or in whole, offering you a handsome amount of cash infusion, you would say …No ?????

        • You are right about them being successful at marketing, no question about that. But their reputation, especially for service and customer service make me want to never partner with them. Selling out with no continuing involvement would be more enticing. But once your own name is attached to something, it’s much harder to just take the money and run as you see your name dragged through the mud by the new owners. So, no to Invicta if they ever came knocking (which I doubt, but it’s any interesting mental exercise). Cheers.

          • Shinytoys

            all good points…cheers

      • Nick Chang

        Is your wife’s friend’s husband a famous celebrity? If he is, I’m sure that’ll really boost the image and value of Invicta watches…just like how Sly Stallone promoted Panerai and Arnie Schwazzenger did for AP…NOT! 🙂

        • No, he does bathroom renovations (tiling, etc.) so I don’t think he will help Invicta’s image much. Nice guy but not a celeb. BYT – Sly and Arnie no doubt DID help those watch brand with sales. Sadly, those endorsement seem to work (go figure).

          • Nick Chang

            Well, to your wife’s friend’s hubby…you know the saying “ignorance is bliss”, so more power to him for such fondness of his ‘exquisite Invicta Reserve Collectione’. Thanks for the interesting feedback, my friend!

    • Chaz

      How did you sneak into the Hublot design studios?

      • Nick Chang

        I’m sure they can afford to invest in a few real Hublots to reverse engineer parts and concepts.;-)

    • “Who buys these watches?” Aliens

      • Nick Chang

        …’illegal aliens’, wannabe gangstas/ballers, crackheads and clucks who pawn these for another hit on the pipe, and ‘entry level’ pimps. 😉

    • Polly Molly Moo

      Excellent description! Well done sir!

  • Raymond Wilkie

    These examples are just large stupid looking badly made cheap watches for men who like to walk about with something big and thick and knobbly on their wrist. The gold one with the 3 big knobbly buttons is a classic example of a nightmare of a watch. If anyone i knew bought one of thee things they would be off my Christmas card list quick smart,

    • Bert Kanne

      The Invicta examples shown are truly hideous. Their quality control and customer service appear to be the worst in the industry. It wouldn’t surprise me that Invicta sells more models of watches than anyone in the world. I wonder how many facilities in China and elsewhere are manufacturing Invicta branded watches?

      • Nick Chang

        Maybe the same facilities in China that also put out counterfeit watches of everyone else! Lol

  • cg

    Buy one now before Invicta infiltrates

  • mrneddles

    Will Invicta Cheeto dust come standard will all new Glycines?

    • Robert Smith

      At least on the crystals, for sure, neddles.

  • Bill W

    Airman down. We have reason to believe he’s still alive but being held at a POW camp in the Everglades.

  • Bill W

    ((Holding my breath until Janis Trading acquires Rolex.))

    I’m dead now.

    • beardedman

      The world is over if that ever happens.

  • MA

    Have you ever researched Invicta’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating? It is an F. Here is the link – reading the complaints from customers is enlightening. http://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/watches-dealers/invicta-watch-company-of-america-in-hollywood-fl-27002445

    • Raymond Wilkie

      all 12 of them.

      • MA

        Try all 172 in the last three years.

        • Shinytoys

          OH the horrors…..THE BBB has 172 complaints…

          • Robert Smith

            Please, just…please. Go to Amazon.com, Yelp, Consumer Complaints, every watch blog on the planet, and any site that offers consumer reviews and you’ll literally see thousands of people logging in to discuss their falling-apart straps, watches dead from the word go, and inability to get their watches fixed. The Invicta Watch Group is an affront to anyone with the slightest admiration of actual horology – and not enough has been done to curtail their shoddy business practices and scads of misrepresented and faulty products. Many like to collect silly oversized shiny things, as home shopping networks prey on the gullible and uninformed – fine. The adults in the room realize that Invicta taking over a respected Swiss watch brand just made a bad year for the Swiss much, much worse.

          • Shinytoys

            “the adults in the room”…+ 1 for making me laugh…

    • john coleman

      Just read the Invicta reviews ! Oh dear. Good by Glycine!!

    • Shinytoys

      Out of what total. 5 million positive. Take the blinders off, get some glasses and a sense of perspective.

  • IVA the LT

    Man…that snake themed one is atrocious. That counterweight on the Shelby Capeland from a couple weeks ago all of a sudden becomes a lesson in subtlety.

  • SuperStrapper

    Truly bizarre. I’ve always liked Glycine for their restrained but very cool design language. But invicta’s design language is akin to having your eyes raped by a rabid wolverine at a Boredoms concert.

    Dark day.

    • I think the common theme running through a lot of these threads is that Invicta will influence Glycine’s physical design, but Glycine (based on its CEO’s comments) seems adamant that this won’t happen. Personally, I’d be more concerned with stock dilution and a plummeting of value.

  • Richard Baptist

    Nervous about this, if you were thinking about getting an airman you should probably get it now.

  • Guilt by association. I’m not sure the Glycine brand does well at all out of this, just by association to Invicta. http://www.bezelous.com/guilt-by-association-invicta-acquires-glycine/

  • Lawrence

    Good business by the invicta guys.

  • Han Cnx

    ” the announcement was met with a chilly reception on social media from Glycine fans – so much so, that Invicta’s Facebook and Instagram posts were quickly removed, perhaps indicating a level of sensitivity to feedback from Glycine’s existing base of fans and vintage collectors.”

    Yes. So this indicates that they truly have no connection whatsoever with watch enthusiasts, or horology for that matter. So not only have they no clue about design, they ALSO have no clue about the market. That alone signals that Glycine is doomed, even if they somehow manage to avoid having to design monstrosical wrist ornaments, inexplicably mislabeled as watches.

    • Yojimbo

      because DKSH a huge holding company so had its finger on the pulse of the watch market? Glycine was a fucking prop for years, the only thing doomed here is the human race if people think like you.

    • Nick Chang

      Yep, what do you expect from a company that makes a gazillion different model of watches (and mostly
      knocksoffs) that are sold at discount outlets and e-tailers at over 75%
      off MSRP. 😉

  • Shinytoys

    Glycine is going to rocket into another atmosphere with this kind of financial powerhouse behind them. It will also give legitimacy to Invicta in the horology world.

    • MA

      What kind of glue do you sniff?

      • Shinytoys

        wait and see bubba

        • Nick Chang

          I’m willing to bet against Invicta gaining more legitimacy from this acquisition. I think it’d be very difficult to polish the image of a company that makes a gazillion different model of watches that are sold at discount outlets and e-tailers at over 75% off MSRP. I always see their watches with retail tags of $300-$500 sold for under $100 at stores like Ross and TJ Max, which always fool the ‘uninitiated’ watch buyer into thinking it’s an awesome deal. I see it as $100 wasted from keeping someone to buy an honest-to-goodness nice watch like a Seiko, Citizen, or Tissot…or something higher tier like a TAG, Rolex…or maybe even an Audemars Piguet or Patek Philippe 😉

          • MA

            Good point Nick and I will take it a bit further. Invicta has learned to make watches cheaply using inferior parts and low cost country labor. I think they are going to “value engineer” the crap out of Glycine to expand margins, sacrificing quality for lower costs. There is no Invicta legitimacy – just profit margin at the expense of quality and service. Flame fusion crystal ect ect. This business model will be repeated with their acquisitions. So many complaints about Invicta’s warranty repair service on the internet because proper service costs money. However, there is a subset of humans out there that care only about “getting the best deal” and that falsely means to them the lowest price. They will continue to buy Invicta and perpetuate that false perception of value.

          • Nick Chang

            Spoken like a real businessman, my friend…and I also agree with you on how people perceive true value. Good example: there is an Invicta model I’ve seen on Amazon lately being sold for around $80 that is a total knock off of the Rolex Sub 2-tone yellow gold/stainless with blue dial. The current model of this watch (#116613) goes for US$10k-13k. I bought the prior generation, 16613, back in 2005 for a little under $8k, which was about $1000 under retail. To me, that was a great deal. Now from some of the review comments I’ve seen for that Invicta, It’s amusing that there are folks out there who would look at this ‘Sub copy-cat’ and think they’re getting an awesome deal at $80 vs a +$10k Rolex. I can definately understand where they’re coming from but I do pity them for not seeing the truth. 🙂

          • Robert Smith

            Well stated, Nick.

    • Cepillin1183

      More like your vintage Glycene just lost most of it’s value. ‘Value’ come the perceived demand thought to be had by collectors for a piece or brand. No serious collector has ever thought of coming anywhere near an Invicta or it’s associated brands. You didn’t see “Champion” rival Adidas or Nike because Walmart began massively selling it, Champion just became a highly sold “cheaper” brand of shoes.

      • Shinytoys

        Completely disagree…. isn’t democracy wonderful…??

    • dogwalker

      I think a better metaphor would be lipstick on a pig.

  • RoadWarrior

    I doubt Invicta buys any company to try and change the image perception of the public, it all comes down to smart monetary business moves.The curtain has been pulled back on Invicta with things like lack of customer service as an example long ago, so to assume they are concerned about image means they actually care about consumers perception in the first place.The “big fix” would start from the inside out, create a customer service department, IMO this is just another shrewd business move for Eyal, the profits are large and they will continue to grow, IMO they are probably laughing all the way to the bank. It seems the more the haters decry the brand the bigger they become.

    • Shinytoys

      Amen brother !! Now , how much would you charge to teach that lesson in investment, economics, brand loyalty, and general management to the rest of the room ?? This is a smart business move to the tenth power!!!

  • Shinytoys

    Excellent piece and research Zach Pina!!!

    • *hat tip* Appreciate that!

  • Nick Chang

    Yes, very interesting and a rather surprising alliance.

    • Either one would be a sign of the apocalypse.

  • Polly Molly Moo

    I was blissfully unaware of Invicta watches until seeing this post. I came close to buying a Glycine Incursore with cream dial, I loved its stark simplicity and clarity, though I found it rather big (46mm) which was what stopped me buying it. Having just had a look at Invicta’s website, I have never seen such a collection of cheaply-made, tasteless, over-priced tat masquerading as a serious watch. In particular, the gold-coloured ‘special forces’ caught my eye. A watch where gold is a colour rather than a material, a whopping 56mm across the dial, lots of crowns protruding from the case – if any special forces are tempted to put this revolting piece of poo on their wrist, it would be like standing up in enemy territory with a helicopter searchlight illuminating their position perfectly for an unseen enemy, with a large neon sign flashing behind them saying “Here I am, please shoot me” which, if they were wearing one of these watches, they would richly deserve. I really hope Glycine can retain their slightly quirky left-field designs without being subsumed by the Invicta ‘design’ (I use the word loosely) language.

    • Why “blissfully” unaware of Invicta watches? You don’t think they are very good? I think they fit an adequate niche for men/boys looking for a good watch, till they graduate to higher brands as they attain greater levels of financial success.

      • Polly Molly Moo

        I didn’t know the brand existed. Having looked at their website, I can see that they’re over-priced tat. Men and boys looking for a good watch should buy a Seiko, and perhaps move to one of the automatic watches such as Oris, Glycine or Hamilton once funds permit. Invicta is bling rubbish.

  • NGAF

    Unlike those who don’t own a Glycine or ‘I was just going to buy one actually’, I actually own a KMU 48 and an Airman. All I can say is that Glycine’s quality is very very very good all the way down to their current Incursore and Combat series.

    Design is subjective but built quality is not. If it drops Glycine customers will know immediately…then the followup finger pointing will be obvious. Invicta thanks for paying the bills but keep your kiddy hands off Glycine. Wishful thinking??

  • NGAF

    Unlike those who don’t own a Glycine or ‘I was just going to buy one actually’, I actually own a KMU 48 and an Airman. All I can say is that Glycine’s quality is very very very good all the way down to their current Incursore and Combat series.

    Design is subjective but built quality is not. If it drops Glycine customers will know immediately…then the followup finger pointing will be obvious. Invicta thanks for paying the bills but keep your kiddy hands off Glycine. Wishful thinking???

  • NGAF

    Unlike those who don’t own a Glycine or ‘I was just going to buy one actually’, I own a KMU 48 and an Airman. All I can say is that Glycine’s quality is very very very good all the way down to their current Incursore and Combat series.

    Design is subjective but built quality is not. If it drops Glycine customers will know immediately…then the followup finger pointing will be obvious. Invicta thanks for paying the bills but keep your kiddy hands off Glycine. Wishful thinking???

  • speedy

    It shouldn’t be that much of a problem in temrs of brand image, since as far as I know, no one knows Invicta outside of the USA.

  • NGAF

    I own a KMU 48 and an Airman. All I can say is that Glycine’s quality is very very very good all the way down to their current Incursore and Combat series.

    Design is subjective but built quality is not. If it drops Glycine customers will know immediately…then the followup finger pointing will be obvious. Invicta thanks for paying the bills but keep your kiddy hands off Glycine….. Hummm wishful thinking???

    • Johan Chandy

      That’s a beautiful glycine!!! :O

  • Cepillin1183

    Didn’t take long, November 2016, you can get a “$2600” Glycene Airman on an “act now” massdrop for $700. The classic Invicta 80% off retail price sale…

    • Marius Piedallu van Wyk

      They may be clearing out the last of the ‘old’ stock. That airman is pretty classic and to drop it by that much is a mistake IMHO. They lucky few to get that…