Watch brands tend to be very good at honoring their achievements. Be it a groundbreaking movement or an expedition where their timepieces played a pivotal role, brands around the world never shy away from their victories and triumphs. Just look at the number of ‘Moon’ watches on the market right now…
But few brands spend time paying homage to their heritage in general. True, some designers incorporate past style cues or touches into their timepieces, but only a handful stay true to original styles and give consumers a taste of what their original watches. And, among them, Longines do this better than almost any other brand.
The Swiss brand’s Heritage collection uses modern watchmaking techniques and materials to bring back to life aviation timepieces from throughout their rich history. And, with 187 years of watches to choose from, there’s a wealth of models to choose from.
Here we’ve broken down the best historically accurate models to make it into the current catalogue, and explained the fascinating — if unexplored — backstories that make them tick.
The high-flying Lindbergh Hour Angle 90th Anniversary
On 20th May, 1927, the ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ took off from Roosevelt Airport. Over 33 hours later, daredevil pilot Charles A. Lindbergh landed the plane on the runway at Le Bourget airport, just outside of Paris, completing the first non-stop flight of the Atlantic. Who was the official timekeeper of this feat? Why, Longines of course.
Shortly after his heroic effort, Lindbergh teamed up with the Swiss watch house to create the first Longines Hour Angle. The intuitive design of this watch allowed pilots to accurately work out their longitude while on long distance flights. In the years before GPS, these watches were the best way to know where you were in the world.
In 2017, Longines brought back the historic model in the entirely accurate 47.5mm case width. While not your standard timepiece, this watch could easily become your go-to statement watch — and a great conversation starter to boot.
Longiens Lindbergh Hour Angle 90th Anniversary
The clean and crisp Heritage 1945
Truly great watch design need not rely on bells and whistles. In fact, perfecting a simple, beautiful design is almost more difficult than trying to stuff the entire kitchen sink into your watch case.
The Heritage 1945 encapsulates this ideal, and is exactly what vintage collectors love about Longines. The crisp, clean lines of the flattened bezel, paired with a brushed copper dial, give watch an undeniably period feel.
What’s more, to accurately recreate this watch, the Swiss brand sourced an original from the era and borrowed it off the owner to study every last element of its construction — before giving it back unscathed, of course.
And, while they tried to stay as true to the original as possible, the Maison also updated certain components to ensure this recreation could keep up with the rigours of modern life. So, whereas the original came fitted with a manual movement, this 1945 is fitted with an automatic calibre that comes with 42 hours of power reserve.
Longines Heritage 1945
The endlessly tough Skin Diver
Styled after the very first diver’s watch to be produced by Longines — the Nautilus Skin Diver from 1959 — this recreation embodies the philosophy of the original; that a diver’s watch was a tool, built to withstand the toughest of conditions professional divers face.
Entirely functional, the original had a matt black dial with bucket-loads of lume, and that utilitarian design has been translated on to this new model, too.
However, with the modern advantages of a super scratch resistant sapphire crystal and a 300m water resistance, this watch is a little hardier. And, although most who strap on this timepiece won’t venture down far enough to test out the watertightness, it’s comforting to know that this watch will stand up to the harshest conditions the ocean has to offer.
Longines Skin Diver
The historic Legend Diver
This sleek, black PVD-coated watch is a direct descendant of a model that Longines produced back in the 1960s. And, thanks to its bidirectional rotating internal bezel, it’s a timepiece that looks entirely of its time.
The internal bezel is rotated by the second bezel at two o’clock and, while it can be used to chart the time elapsed on a dive, it also shows the technical limitations of an era when an external bezel would have compromised the waterproofing of a timepiece.
Then there’s the introduction of the black PVD coating, a touch that helps turn this watch from a purely practical tool into a stylish, sophisticated accessory.
Longines Legend Diver
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