Today we’re taking a look at a modern example in the Glycine Combat collection: the Glycine Combat Sub “Ambush”, reference GL0079. The Combat Sub has become a popular Glycine model over the last decade, and the “Ambush” reference GL0079 that I’m reviewing today is probably my favorite of the numerous models and styles that are available.
Glycine is most well known for its Airman collection, which was introduced in 1953 and famously worn by United States Air Force pilots during the Vietnam War. Their Combat collection has existed since 1967, and consists of military themed dive, dress, and sport watches in the present day. The Combat Sub is one of the most popular options in this collection, and also the most versatile.
In fact, I think that versatility is one of the Combat Sub’s greatest strengths. Glycine has been able to create a design that that is unique and iconic, despite dozens of different variations in color and materials. Just check out all the different models below! It’s not a homage to a Rolex Submariner or Blancpain Fifty Fathoms; instead it stands out as an interesting fusion of a field watch and a dive watch. The look and feel on the wrist is also distinctive from any other diver I’ve tried on; more on that later.
Let’s take a minute to talk specs. The Combat Sub is 42mm in width, 50mm lug-to-lug, has a lug width of 22mm, and is just 10.6mm thick. It features a screw down crown which provides 200 meters of water resistance, a triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal, a 60-click unidirectional bezel, and sharp hands and markers painted with Super-Luminova. Inside is the GL224 Swiss automatic movement, which is modified on the base caliber ETA 2824. Furthermore, the “Ambush” model GL0079 features a case and bracelet with black PVD coating, which creates a more stealthy and tactical look. It retails for $1,530, although I purchased mine brand new from Massdrop for just $430.
The Combat Sub is a great combination of practicality, comfort, and value. Let’s cover each of these items individually below.
The Combat Sub “Ambush” is basically a watch you can take with you anywhere. The look is low-key and would go well with almost any outfit or attire. With its 200m water resistance and the caliber GL224’s Incabloc shock system, it’s durable enough to survive a dive, hike, or other sporting activities. It’s also slim enough to slide under a cuff if you so choose. You get a 60-minute count-up bezel, secondary markers which show the 24-hour (or military) time, a date window, and great lume. This is a watch that you don’t have to worry about too much, and it will always be dependable when you need it.
The bracelet design is also well thought out. You get four micro-adjustment positions on the clasp, which allow you to (with the help of a spring bar tool) find the perfect fit for your wrist. The bracelet also features a double locking deployment clasp for extra security. One thing that would be nice to see is drilled lug holes, as this watch is a real strap-meister and would go great with the stock bracelet or a variety of different NATO, perlon, or rubber straps.
Let’s first talk comfort in terms of bezel action and winding feel. Overall, I’m very satisfied with both. The bezel action very crisp and responsive, and honestly I think I prefer a 60-click bezel over a 120-click – I like that every click is lined up exactly to a minute marker. Although I don’t own any higher-end dive watches, and so I can’t comment as to the bezel action relative to more expensive pieces, I don’t feel that I could be missing out on that much. The give when trying to turn the bezel in the reverse direction is minimal, and the resistance is just right – not too easy where you would worry it could turn by accident, but also not too difficult like the Orient Mako II I previously reviewed.
The winding feel is also very good – the best I’ve experienced at the sub-$500 price point (compared to the likes of the Hamilton Khaki King and Seiko Cocktail Time, both also in my collection). I feel that a significant reason for this is the design of the crown – its size and ridging just make the action so satisfying. The winding is far from smooth or silent, but it has an industrial charm to it that just makes it feel like you’re accomplishing something with every turn of the crown. It is truly a pleasure to wind, and sometimes I will find myself doing so just for the satisfaction.
Of course, we also have to talk about comfort on the wrist. The Combat Sub also stands out here due to its slim profile. At only 10.6mm thick with its thin downward-sloping lugs, the Combat Sub wears about as closely to a dress watch as a dive watch can. As I said before, it could easily slide under a cuff on the bracelet. It also feels like an extension of your wrist, rather than an object sitting on your wrist as was the impression I got with bulkier divers like the Orient Mako II and Seiko SKX. The comfort of the bracelet is also excellent – I never experienced any pulling of wrist hairs, and the clasp is small enough to where it doesn’t get in the way.
Priced at $430 new from Massdrop, this is a watch for someone who wants a diver, but has graduated from the likes of the Orient Mako II and the Seiko SKX. Those are classics and undoubtedly solid entry-level choices, but you don’t have to look very hard to see where the extra money is going when you purchase the Glycine Combat Sub: a better movement, AR-coated sapphire crystal, and improved build quality. I think that the Combat Sub is a great value, and with so many different models it’s not hard to find one that speaks to you. In previous reviews, I’ve tried to break down the loves and hates of each watch; but for the Combat Sub, I really feel like it’s hard to complain about what you’re getting for the money. If I had to come up with some criticisms, perhaps my only two would be the lack of drilled lugs and questionable heritage – although the Glycine brand has real military history, its roots were in aviation, not divers.
Overall, this watch is a hidden gem that packs a ton of style and functionality into a very slim case. If you’re looking for a versatile diver under $500, put the Glycine Combat Sub on your shortlist.