Glycine Combat Sub 42 Review - A Field Diver [2024]

Disclaimer: The Glycine Combat Sub 42 that I T&E'd was purchased by me for the purposes of review.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Featured Image

After I got my Invicta Pro Diver, I realized that I wanted something more unique, and actually "Swiss Made". Well, I did some digging, and ended up choosing the Glycine Combat Sub 42 (reference GL0083). Well, Glycine is a company steeped in history, and the Combat series dates back over 60 years. How much value do you get out of the Combat Sub 42?

Who is Glycine?

Glycine is a historic Swiss watch company, originally founded in 1914. While they aren't the flashiest company, they are responsible for a lot of innovation in the world of watches.

They made the first GMT watch with the "Airman" in 1953, beating Rolex by a number of years. The Airman was meant to be a pilot's watch, allowing them to track multiple timezones while flying. The same model would eventually end up in space, on the wrist of Pete Conrad during the 1965 Gemini 5 mission.

Glycine also had their "Vacuum" line, a line of watches that boasted increased water resistance due to a crown that "vacuumed" the air out of the watch. These unique watches also were some of the earliest to feature mineral crystal, rather than acrylic glass.

Glycine Vacuum
My personal Glycine Vacuum, vintage from the early 1960s.

By the mid-1960s, the Vietnam War was in full swing. Glycine's were popular choices of US servicemen, with the "Combat" line of field watches being extremely popular. These were highly durable, easy to read, and water resistant field watches.

Glycine survived the "Quartz Crisis" of the 1970s, lasting till the mid 2010s. In 2016, they were purchased by Invicta, however, the tacky tendrils of Invicta haven't inflicted Glycine yet. With this, Glycine has been able to grow larger in the market, culminating in one of their most popular watches, the Combat Sub. What is the Combat Sub anyway?

What is the Combat Sub 42?

The Combat Sub 42 is a 200m water resistant, automatic movement dive watch from Glycine. It takes inspiration from the Combat field watches that came before it, but with the increased water resistance, and a rotating timing bezel. The "42" in the name is to denote the case size, of 42mms. These watches are "Swiss Made", but what does that mean?

Basically, "Swiss Made" means that the watch uses a Swiss movement, is assembled in Switzerland, and that at least 60% of the manufacturing costs of the watch are Swiss. Does that mean that the case of the watch is Swiss? Well, maybe, maybe not. We know that the movement is, as were most of the cost of the watch. However, this is a budget Swiss watch, so there's likely some degree of outsourcing going on.

Speaking of price, MSRP is 1045 Swiss Francs, which converts to about $1205 USD. Now, Glycine may not get Invicta design decisions, but they certainly get the MSRP markup. New, the Combat Sub 42s tend to run closer to $300-$350 USD. On the secondary market, you can find good examples for $210-$300.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 EDC X9

So, we've got a fairly entry level Swiss watch, with a lot of history behind the brand. What kind of features do we get from this timepiece?

Case, Bezel, Crystal

The Combat Sub 42 has a 42mm, 316 stainless steel case. Weight is fairly light, with the watch weighing 91g with the OEM strap. Lug to lug length is 49.5mm, and thickness is 10.6mm. The Combat Sub 42 uses a 22mm lug width, which makes it really easy to swap to aftermarket straps and bracelets.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Caseback
The pretty cool looking caseback.

While this is a budget watch, we do get pretty nice case finishing. the top of the case has a brushed finish, while the sides are a high polish. This gives a strong, tool watch look, and the same feel. Our caseback is a screwdown one, adorned with the Glycine double-seal logo.

Our crown is a meaty, screwdown one, with coin edge knurling. It's got two beefy crown guards that nicely come out of the side of the case. On the top of the crown, we have the Glycine Crown logo, which is a nice touch.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Crown
Big, meaty crown!

The Combat Sub features a 60 click, uni-directional bezel. It's constructed from the same 316 steel, and uses an aluminum insert. We've got minute markers from 0-15 minutes, and lines at each 5 minute marker, and a numeral every 10 minutes. There's also a lume pip at the 12 o'clock triangle. The bezel is coin edge, which is relatively grippy. However, there is a teeny little extrusion at 12', which really makes it easier to twist the bezel. The clicky action is decent, but not amazing.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Bezel
A simple coin edge, with a notch to hold onto.

Topping the dial is a simple piece of sapphire crystal. It's technically slightly domed, but is effectively flat once you clear the far edges of the crystal. It is not anti-reflective coated, so you do get some glare.

The entire presence of the Combat Sub 42 just exudes beefiness, but in a refined form. The case and bezel give a durable feel, but the thin profile makes it a sleek wear too. The tool watch design really reflects on the dial.

The Dial

The GL0083's dial is classic field watch. We've got high visibility and contrast, in the form of the indices, hands, and the color palate.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Dial
The field-inspired dial of the GL0083.

The indices are varied and useful. There's a full minute track on the outermost part of the dial. These are white lines, that allow you to precisely know the second. Every 5 seconds, we've got a larger line, and at each 10 second marker, we have the numeral. Closer in, we've got numerals for 13-24, for counting in 24 hour time, with orange circles to denote that. With the contrast from the black dial, this is an extremely legible watch to read.

Keeping with the field trend, our handset is highly visible, and is easy to read. The minute and hour hands are semi-sword shaped, with a long piece of yellow paint down the centerline. The second hand is a thin slice of metal, with a rectangle of yellow paint. Telling the time at a glance is easy as can be, and I appreciate that. The hands are made from brass, but they are coated in a glossy grey finish.

Tying it all together is the color palate. It's black, white, orange, and a glossy gunmetal grey. It mates well with the bezel and included NATO strap, and just generally looks really sharp. The text on the dial looks class too, telling you all that you need, and nothing that you don't. The color matched date wheel is a nice touch too.

We've talked about the dial, but how's the lume paint?

Lume?

The lume is not amazing on the Combat Sub 42. We've got a pip on the bezel, some on the hands, and lume on the orange indices on the dial. The glow is a hazy green, and tends to last for about 30 minutes after exposure to UV light. It's never really super potent, but it's certainly usable in a pinch.

I've been out at night, and hit the watch with a burst of light from my EDCL2-T when I needed to see it. When the lume is there, it does make reading the watch pretty easy. But again, it only lasts for about 30-40 minutes. I think I know why.

Glycine uses Swiss SuperLuminova, a common type of luminescent paint. However, I'm guessing that they didn't put all that many layers of it onto the watch. The amount of lume paint honestly matters a lot more than the type or brand, so it is a bummer that Glycine didn't spring for more of it.

So the lume isn't great, but it's not too bad either. Well, the movement is certainly a massive positive in this watch.

The Excellent Movement

The Combat Sub 42 is powered by the GL224 movement. Now, this is just the Glycine name for one of two possible movements. Glycine first put ETA 2824 automatic movements into the Combat Sub, however, they changed to Sellita SW-200-1s in 2021. For my particular watch, I think I have the Sellita movement. Both movements are tried and tested, and are easy to get serviced at most watchmakers.

For the complication, it's a simple seconds/minutes/hours, with a date wheel. Setting the date and time is fairly easy, as the crown is quite responsive inside of the movement. After unscrewing the crown, the first position is the date, and the second is time. With how these movements work, the date will switch over to the next day right around midnight, rather than taking a few hours like many budget mechanical movements.

A nice thing about the GL224 is the smooth sweep of the seconds hand. The hand sweeps at 28,880 beats per hour, or 4 hertz. As such, we've got a nice, sweeping movement of the second hand. This functionally does nothing for accuracy or power reserve, but damn does it look nice.

Speaking of that, Glycine does not publish the accuracy or power reserve on this watch or movement. However, we can go look at CaliberCorner for that. Sellita states that the movement will be between plus or minus 12 to 30 seconds per day, and that it has a 38 hour power reserve. Well, my watch is considerably more accurate than that (plus 5 seconds per day), so I imagine that Glycine regulates the movements before they get put into cases. The power reserve isn't super long, but it's pretty par for the course given the price.

The GL224 is based on thin movements, which is why the watch get's to be quite thin for a 200m diver. However, the included strap makes that a little thicker. How is the Glycine NATO that comes with the GL0083?

Strapping Up

Glycine sells a wide range of Combat Sub 42s, but most of the field watch colorways come on NATO straps. NATO is the colloquial term for a "double pass nylon strap", calling back to the UK creating a NATO standard watch strap in the 1960s. With a NATO, the watch rides on a piece of nylon, which then loops with a second strap, keeping the caseback off of your wrist. With this design, the watch remains on the strap, even if you were to break a springbar.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 OEM NATO
The crappy OEM NATO strap.

Well, the included NATO is pretty garbage. It is very thin, has mediocre stitching, and is kind of short. I've got medium-large sized wrists at 7.25", and I find that there's not much slack left behind when wearing the watch. There's some reinforcement for the holes on the female end of the strap, which is nice. The buckle is also Glycine branded, something that is cool to see. However, I tossed out that strap and replaced it pronto.

For most of my time with the Combat Sub, I wore an ArtStyle NATO. These ones are made from a firmer, seatbelt nylon, which feels a lot better. They've also got a longer length, which made the watch fit better to my wrist. Now, this is a lot of personal preference, but I just prefer a beefier NATO on my watches. A two-tone "Bond" is my preferred for the GL0083, however, this watch is a certified strap monster.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Strap Monster
The Combat Sub is easily a strap monster.

Near the start of 2024, I wanted to try a rubber strap on the Combat Sub. Well, I ordered one made from soft, FKM rubber, and I'm loving it here. With the thinness of the case, the watch just sucks onto the wrist. It slides under cuffs quite easily, and the comfort is top notch.

While the OEM strap sucks, we can easily swap to something better. The 22mm lugs combined with the good lug clearance means that you can basically try anything on the Combat Sub. How's the overall fitment to my wrist?

On The Wrist

The Combat Sub 42 is such an easy watch to wear. While it is large in the width, the thin profile and (relatively) short lug to lug make this a simple affair to toss on the wrist.

Combat Sub Rain
Easy to wear for most folks.

With the ability to swap between nylon, rubber, and a bracelet, this is a very easy watch to add to any outfit. From working out in gym clothes, wearing my regular clothes, or even doing some business-medium attire, I think that this is a pretty multipurpose timepiece. It's not too flashy or blingy, but it's still very beefy and tool watch-like.

I'd say that most folks could pull off the Combat Sub 42, even if you've got smaller wrists. The 42mm diameter might make some folks think that it's too big, but with the bezel size, it looks a lot smaller on the wrist. If you want the Combat Sub, but 42mm is too big, Glycine does sell a smaller 39mm model. I haven't tried it, but it looks quite appealing.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Rain
It really doesn't feel as big as it measures.

With the Combat Sub 42 being such an easy watch to wear, I've worn it a ton. How has it held up in my time with it?

Durability

Well, I've not managed to break it yet. I've put some scratches in the caseback and on the sides of the case, but besides that, no undue wear. The sapphire crystal is holding up like a champ, the lugs aren't getting bent, and I've not had any water resistance issues.

Glycine Combat Sub Bath
The Sub going into the bath.

I've not babied this watch. It's joined me for hikes, shooting trips, time in the snow and rain, and more than a handful of showers. There have been days where I've not taken it off, and had it on for 72 hours straight. This watch has the outward appearance of being a beefy tool watch, but it also has the ability to cash those checks. Sure, a G-Shock is more durable, but for EDC stuff, this has held up better than I could have asked for (so far).

Some folks refuse to do repetitive activities while wearing an automatic watch. You could technically damage the watch with repeated movements that cause the rotor to spin too much. Despite that, it's not really a concern for modern tool watches. Despite plenty of shooting trips (repetitive recoil transmitted to the watch) and weightlifting sessions (same motion, depending on lift), I've not had any issues with the movement failing. When I got the Combat Sub in August of 2023, it was running about 5 seconds fast a day (very accurate), and 6 months down the line, it's still doing the same. I'd call that a win.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Snow
Mmmm, snow.

How has this watch fit into my EDC?

The EDC Experience

Well, my EDC doesn't change much. The watch is the thing that changes the most, but I'm still mostly using it for the time and the date. However, it's something that I really enjoy swapping around.

Glycine Combat Sub EDC
The Combat Sub with some gym EDC items.

I've been told that I've got a "cartoon character" wardrobe. I basically have 3 outfits, gym clothes, regular clothes, and my business attire. All of my specific pieces of clothing are the same. All the same athletic socks, same underwear, same undershirts, etc. The watch is one of the only pieces of outerwear that I ever change, and I've found the Combat Sub 42 to suit me well. The primarily black and silver color work well with my normal attire, and that swapping between a NATO and rubber strap works well too.

With the Combat Sub being durable, I find that I've been wearing it a lot in daily life, where I'd normally take my watch off. I don't have that concern with this watch. I've found the timing bezel to be very helpful too, from timing simple things like gym sessions and food in the oven, to setting "reminders" for upcoming meetings. This may be a simple watch, but I'm damn well using all of the features.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Rock
A constant shooting companion.

Despite all of the praise that I've showered on the Combat Sub 42, it isn't a perfect watch. I do have some gripes with it.

Glycine Gripes

Well, it can't all be sunshine and submariners. I do have a handful of gripes with the Combat Sub 42.

I've already mentioned a few of them. The lume paint is pretty weak. I'd like it to be a lot better. The sapphire isn't anti-reflective coated, so you do get some glare in certain lighting conditions. While they give you a branded NATO, it kind of sucks. Is there anything else?

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Case Finishing
The leading edge is a bit sloppy.

The finishing on parts of the case are a little, well, less than stellar. Where the side of the case rolls over to the caseback, there's a bit of an edge. It's not enough to agitate or irritate your skin, even on a rubber strap. However, it is indicative of the more budget price point. This is something that I'll fix on my own in the future (fine round file and some sandpaper), but it is a gripe that I wanted to mention.

So, I've got a handful of gripes with the watch. Despite them, I still think that this is one of the best values in automatic watches, and Swiss ones at that.

The Verdict

I'm a sucker for a good value. In the world of automatic watches, there's a lot of solid, value timepieces out there. Ones like the Orient Kamasu, the Citizen Pro Master, and a lot from microbrands. However, Swiss watches are inherently more expensive to get into. Despite that, the Glycine Combat Sub is just a little more money than the other entry level automatics, but with a long history backing it up.

Glycine Combat Sub 42 Closer

If you venture into wristwatch YouTube, you'll find a myriad of people recommending the Combat Sub over other, more hyped up watches. Why? Well, it's because a lot of hype watches with no substance really look bad in comparison to the Combat Sub. Why buy a plastic, non-serviceable Blancpain X Swatch for $100 more than this solid, durable diver? Well, the Combat Sub is a watch that I really love, and if you want to get into Swiss divers, I'd say it's perfect place to start.

Additional Reading & Patreon Link

If you liked this review, check out some more of my watch reviews:

If you'd like to support me on Patreon, I've got the link for that here. Nearly everything that I do on Primer Peak is paid for out of my own pocket, and my content is not shilled or driven by manufacturers or companies. If you decide to donate, I'd really appreciate it, as it would allow for me to continue to bring you quality work.

About Paul Whaley 192 Articles
Paul Whaley is a guy with an interest in practical and defensive pistol shooting techniques with an eye for quality gear. He has received training from Holistic Solutions Group, John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research, Darryl Bolke, Cecil Birch, and Chuck Haggard. When not trying to become a better shooter, he can be found enjoying a Resident Evil game or listening to Warren Zevon. If you want to follow his wristwatch content, you can find him on https://www.watchcrunch.com/PaulWhaley

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