There are few manufacturers with quite the history and back catalogue of Longines, especially as the brand conceived models during the 1930s, 40s and 50s that are now highly sought after by collectors (and spoken in the same breath as Patek et al).
So, before getting into today’s watch of focus, let me give you a brief rundown on the history of the house.
In 1832, a Swiss watchmaker named Auguste Agassiz, with the help of two partners, lawyers and brothers-in-law Henri Raiguel and Florian Morel, established a timepiece company in the town of Saint-Imier, Switzerland. Originally, the venture’s name was Raiguel Jeune & Cie. but, by 1846, both of Agassiz’s partners had retired from the industry, leaving him in sole command.
Since then, Longines – which is now part of the Swatch Group and still operates out of Saint-Imier – has created a list of accomplishments that’s long and extensive, including a number of electronic and quartz innovations, and even the world’s first watch capable of achieving an overall thickness of less than 2mm (the Feuille d’Or – meaning ‘gold leaf’).
Now, full disclosure, I love the L2.8126.96.36.199 Men’s Heritage Classic Automatic. I have done since the moment it launched a few years ago. Not only is it under £3,000 – but it’s remarkably beautiful, too.
Longines has translated the design of a vintage 1934 wristwatch (which is incredibly rare) from its archives into a modern dress classic with all the benefits of contemporary manufacturing. The dial is the star of the show, with an off-white centre surrounded by a silvered, opaline chapter ring that has been brushed and easily catches the light.
There’s a touch of colour thanks to the heat-blued hands, and the small seconds sub-dial adds some texture with concentric snailing. A crosshair shoots out from the central pinion, cutting across the dial with clinical precision. The slim case (just 11mm tall) is fully brushed and features a stepped bezel and long, tapered lugs. The result is a look that is supremely elegant.
The automatic movement inside is the L893.5 calibre and is based off an ETA A31.501. For the movement geeks out there, it has a silicon balance spring and an ample power reserve of 64 hours, ideal for long weekends.
To me, this is modern Longines at its very best: well-executed on every level, looking, and feeling, like a watch double or three times its cost. And, at 38.5mm, it is likely to be a perfect fit for most wrists.
Want more watch content? Here’s everything you need to know about Lando Norris’s RM 67-02…
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