Over the last few years, models such as the timelessly elegant Conquest Heritage and the gorgeous Avigation BigEye have defined Longines as a brand eminently capable of recreating its past. This has also developed a distinct aversion to larger watches and cluttered dials which continues to impact the industry as a whole. However, as vintage inspired watches become increasingly common as brands raid their archives for ideas, it is easy for such projects to grow effete and irrelevant for most buyers.
The new Longines Heritage Classic promises to avoid both criticisms in a way few other brands could manage. This new watch from Saint Imier finds its inspiration in the elegant ‘oversized’ dress watches of the 1930s. Sometimes referred to as Longines ‘Calatrava’ watches, these were larger dress watches which offered clean dials and, usually, small seconds. For context, this was the style of watch from which the IWC Portugieser was born. The choice of this period is, in my eyes, a good one as it reminds us that this was a time when Longines was at the forefront of watchmaking. The calibre 13ZN is very ample proof of this.
“…the classical diameter of 38.5mm has been retained.”
Returning to this new timepiece, in keeping with Longines’ respect for the past, the classical diameter of 38.5mm has been retained. However, whilst the sizing is delicate, the design is careful to retain the clean functionality of its forebears. The case is simple but well executed in brushed steel and the crown is a subtle angular pumpkin shape for a low profile and good grip. Looking at the front of the watch through a box-domed sapphire crystal with multiple anti-reflective coatings, the dial is an elegantly technical ‘sector’ arrangement.
“…composed of separate sectors which give a typically ‘30s geometrical appearance.”
In the same way as the stunning Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control, the structure of the display is composed of separate sectors which give a typically ‘30s geometrical appearance. It really does exude the charm of A.M. Cassandre posters with a sense of quiet functionality. Nowhere will you find ornamentation, but instead the use of clear lines. On this watch, the detailing seems just perfect as the logo emulates the original and the Arabic numerals and small seconds give stability. The hands share the same aesthetic and, uncommonly for a reissue, are the correct lengths and are centrally capped. To finish the piece off, both brushed and matted effects are used on the silvered dial, thus adding a sense of refinement and colour.
However, whilst the aesthetics are perfectly selected, I find the choice of movement for this model to be of particular interest. For this watch, in lieu of a simple three-hand automatic, as would have been easily overlooked considering the watch’s other attributes, Longines chose the L893.5. Originally based upon the ETA 2895-2 (the small seconds version of the ETA 2892), this movement has a reduced beat rate of 7 ticks per seconds (25,200 vph) and an increased power reserve of 64 hours. To add to this, the watch draws upon the technical connotations of 1930s ‘sector’ and ‘scientific’ dials by adding a silicon balance spring. The result is increased anti-magnetism and a position at the cutting edge of the industry.
Whilst I have not yet handled this piece, I am already extremely impressed with the concept. Longines has not rested upon its laurels but has instead offered a thoughtfully designed dress watch with serious technical credentials. For these reasons, this could be a wonderful option for those currently looking at a vintage inspired Tudor or a minimalistic Nomos.
Pricing: £1,760 on either leather strap with an addition NATO strap
- Dimensions: 38.5mm
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Crystal: Box-domed sapphire crystal with multiple anti-reflective coatings
- Dial: Silvered sector dial with brushed and matted sections and small seconds at 6 o’clock
- Hands: Blued steel straight hands
- Water Resistance: 3 ATM / 30m
- Movement: L893.5 (ETA A31.501): automatic, small seconds at 6 o’clock, 27 jewels, 3.5 Hz / 25,200 vph / 7 ticks per second, 64-hour power reserve, silicon balance spring
For further information, head over to the Longines website.