Charles A. Lindberg might have been the most prominent pilot, who trusted the know-how of watch brand Longines in the 1930s, which earned reputation in the field of aviation already from the very start. Their pilot watches distinguished themselves due to the rotating inner disc, which enabled the pilots to synchronize their watch with the reference time given from the ground by radio transmission. Longines was the first brand to use this function in their watches. Longines Heritage collection preserves the legacy of the historical watches which are regularly revived in re-editions. It’s not just pilot- and military-watches from the 1930s that characterize the Heritage collection, but also diving watches from the 1960s. We have taken a closer look at three modern witnesses of the past and wanted to find out, how they have developed over the decades.
Flying high – Avigation BigEye Ref. L2.822.214.171.124
With some fantasy, you can discover the connection to aviation in the logo – although the hourglass with wings was established long before the first flying attempts and was originally a symbol for the speed that the time goes by – it literally flies by. Longines made a whole bunch of references during the heyday of timekeeping in the air – in 2017 the brand decided for a re-edition of a pilot-chronograph from the 1930s that looks very authentic to its original. Hence, the new Avigation BigEye has the same 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Back in the days, there were two different types. The model for the air force and department of defence had a 30-minute counter, the model for the air force of the French navy had a 15-minute counter. In terms of re-editions, Longines emphasizes on an authentic replication, as long as the Heritage watches are also modified by contemporary, horological elements.
Hence, we can find some authentic details in the case, dial and pushers. The ‘big eye’ is especially omnipresent with its big chronograph minute display at 3 o’clock. Not only due to its size compared to the other two displays, but also due to its indication in 3-minute increments, instead of 5-minutes as usual, which however proofed to be more helpful for pilots to conduct certain calculations. The automatic calibre L688.2 with column wheel chronograph mechanism has been exclusively developed for Longines by ETA and is based on the calibre ETA A08.L01. The hands are rhodium-plated and sand-blasted and numerals, hour- and minute-hands are coated with SuperLuminova. Price: 2.500 Euro.
A Genuine Diver – Skin Diver Watch REf. L2.8126.96.36.199
Longines president Walter von Kanel recently confirmed in an interview that Chinese people have finally started to buy diving watches, instead of only being gridlocked on elegant dress-watches only. And they even start to like them in a bigger sizing. Hence, Longines Skin Diver Watch comes at a good point in time and adds another genuine diving watch to the Heritage collection. The inspiration derives from the Nautilus Skin Diver from 1959, the first diving watch by Longines. Again, also this re-edition from 2018 is very similar to its original.
It was modified by modern materials and a new movement. Even the SuperLuminova coating on hands, numerals and bezel glow brownish to artificially imitate an aging process. The 42mm case is slightly bigger compared to the original 40 mm case diameter. They also fiddled little on the black bezel that is coated with PVD instead of Bakelite (a delicate plastic) from the 1959 model. Inside runs the calibre L888.2, based on the ETA A31.L01 with a reduced frequency of 25’200 vibrations per hour that leds to almost twice the amount of power reserve, now 64 hours. You can choose between three straps: a brown leather strap, a black rubber strap with ‘tropic’ structure (basket weave pattern) or a Milanese stainless steel bracelet. Price: 2.460 Euro.
Refined – Legend Diver Watch in black Ref. L3.7188.8.131.52
Another truly interesting reference from the Heritage collection is the Legend Diver, because it has the typical rotating inner disc by which a second reference time can be set. In this particular case it is the diving time, adapted from the pilot watches of the 1930s. The Legend Diver was first launched as re-edition in the Heritage collection in 2007 (without date) and is inspired by a diving watch from 1960. The ‘Legend Diver’ family further grows and gets an all-black version that redefines a classical diving watch, compared to the original model or re-editions since 2007, which all had a stainless steel case.
The case has a black PVD coating and a matching black rubber strap in Milanese style. It was modified by a domed sapphire but boxed glass to somehow preserve the lines of the original watch. It also has a date indication which was a logical step of the changing demand. The engine of the watch is the same movement that runs inside the Skin Diver Watch: calibre L888.2. Price: 2.360 Euro.
Vintage-watches are popular. But what makes the watches from the past so interesting are their stories that they tell and the ravages of time that shape them. Also, re-editions need to age in order to be authentic vintage. The Heritage collection by Longines is indeed very well executed and leaves no room for additional wishes, looking at the great price-value-ratio – maybe only one small additional note: the re-editions should also keep their original case-size, despite the fact that the market has got used to a bigger sizing.