In Search of the Ideal Field Watch with The Glycine Combat 6
 

In Search of the Ideal Field Watch with The Glycine Combat 6

5 min read
Nathan Schultz

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Reviews

Nathan Schultz

Categories

Reviews

What makes the perfect field watch? This is the question I set out to answer during the summer of 2023 as I hid from my responsibilities and embarked on an end-to-end hike of the Monadnock Sunapee Greenway trail in New Hampshire. Truth be told, despite a handful of overnights spent in the backcountry with various watches, I didn't find the answer during the summer months. None of the watches in my modest collection rose to the challenge- be it sub-par lume or a less than legible dial.

And so, doing what any self-respecting watch enthusiast would do in this situation, I convinced myself it was time to fill yet another slot in my watch box. I justified my purchase as being in the name of science. With temperatures dropping and days growing shorter, I embarked on one more overnight adventure, this time in the pursuit of the perfect field watch. Accompanying me on this scientific expedition was my newly acquired Glycine Combat 6.

Glycine Combat 6Glycine Combat 6 - Credit Guest Author

 
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Why Glycine?

Why the Glycine Combat 6? For two reasons. First, price. I’m typically not one to get hung up on this pesky aspect of watch collecting, but Glycine seems to have built their modern identity around competitive prices. The Glycine Combat 6, despite its Swiss movement, can be readily purchased for the same price as a Seiko 5. I’ve been curious about the brand for years and had to see if it was worth the fuss. Aside from a competitive MSRP, this particular Glycine seemed (at least on paper) to offer everything a field watch should with its high contrast full Arabic numerals paired with a massive white dial.

My love for backpacking started in 2013 when I set out to hike the Appalachian Trail with no prior backpacking experience. I knew as little about watches as I did about backpacking and had impulsively purchased a Timex Ironman for the five month, 2200 miles (3540 km) trek through 14 states.  I now call New Hampshire (one of those 14 states) home, and am currently trying to convince my children that walking all day in the woods and sleeping in a tent is the best way to spend a weekend.

Recently, our family of four has been escaping the crowds of the more popular local mountains, opting instead for the secluded beauty of the lesser-known Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway- a 50-mile (80 km) trail through New Hampshire's rocky, rolling terrain. One can expect to encounter more summits per day than people, a quality I truly appreciate, and the perfect backdrop for field testing my new Glycine.

 

Field Testing

With the kids at home, I hit the trail alone for this final backcountry expedition of the year by headlamp just before the sun rose. Over the years, I’ve learned which shoes are most likely to let me keep my toenails after some big mileage, which tents are the lightest, and which trekking poles can withstand the abuse I subject them to. And so, every item in my pack was well tested. On this first day out, I enjoyed 22 miles of solitude before setting up camp.

By all objective measures, my new budget-friendly automatic field watch fulfilled its role admirably. Its sapphire crystal remained unscathed as I banged it on granite during climbs (and falls). Despite the many jolts, it maintained precise timekeeping, allowing me to track my speed accurately and make it to camp before dark. When I checked the time at night, the lume was strong enough to read effortlessly in my tent. And, had the weather turned sour (something I was happy to avoid) its 50 meters of water resistance would have been more than capable of fending off rain.

Glycine Combat 6Glycine Combat 6

How Big is Too Big?

However, the Glycine fell short in one area: its size. I've owned plenty of large watches. Compared with a Seiko Samurai or Bulova Oceanographer, the 43mm diameter of the Glycine is not breaking any records in my watch box. But in a backcountry setting, where it is often necessary to bend your wrist to scramble up some rocks or gather water from a stream, I found 43mm to be downright obtrusive. After two days of the crown digging into my wrist, I looked forward to shutting it away in my watch box- not the way you want to feel about a new acquisition. Is it fair to complain about the size of a watch when the dimensions are clearly advertised? Absolutely not. Around the house, the Glycine wears comfortably thanks to its slim 10.9mm thickness. However, in my quest to find the ideal field watch, field performance matters.

Looking back, the 38mm Timex Ironman I wore over the course of five months on the Appalachian Trail remains the best field watch I’ve experienced. Ironically, I purchased it at the grocery store before I knew anything about watches. Its price was many times less than even the Glycine, its INDIGLO technology more reliable than any even the most generously applied luminescent paint, and its digital display was more legible than any analog dial on the market.

Glycine Combat 6Glycine Combat 6 - Credit Guest Author

But watch enthusiasts tend to me a bit romantic, even if it means making some practical sacrifices. Yes, digital displays and glowing screens can solve all of my time keeping needs in the field, but where is the fun in that? With the realization that I unknowingly cracked the case of the perfect affordable field watch a decade prior, I’m revising the parameters of my experiment. In addition to those practical elements of comfort, legibility, water resistance and lume- I’m adding romance. For me, that means layers of SuperLuminova on hands powered by a spring as they rotate around an analog dial.

Final thoughts:

The Glycine Combat 6 is undoubtedly an exceptional watch that may have found a permanent home in my collection. It represents both value and impressive design. Yet, for my personal taste, due to its generous size, this field watch is best enjoyed at home.

As I continue my quest, I'm open to exploring any watch within my newly defined parameters. I would love to hear your feedback. How do you strike the balance between size and legibility, and what characteristics do you value most in a field watch?

  • Brand: Glycine
  • Model: Combat 6
  • Price: Glycine seems to use Invicta pricing (advertising absurdly high prices but selling for much less). Ignore the retail price, these are readily available for less than $300.
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: SW200-1
  • Complications: Date at 3:00
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Dial: White and black options available 
  • Size: 43mm
  • When the reviewer would personally wear it: After testing this watch in the backcountry, I find it is best suited to be worn around the house.
  • A friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone who is looking for an attractive and legible watch without breaking the bank.
  • Best characteristics of the watch: A Selitta powered watch for under $300 isn’t bad…
  • The worst characteristics of the watch: For my personal taste, it is too big to serve as a practical field watch.

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Nathan Schultz

About the Author: Nathan Schultz

Nathan Schultz is a New Hampshire based writer obsessed with affordable mechanical timepieces. When not collecting, modifying and writing about watches, he can be found putting them to the test on local hiking trails.

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