The Longines Heritage Avigation Watch Type A-7
People wil ask themselves why the Longines Heritage Avigation Watch Type A-7 has such an unusual name. If the word “Heritage” clearly identifies the historical collection by Longines, the term “Avigation” is no marketing mannerism, but it refers to a specification set by the US Army during WW2.
In order to comply with this specification, all wristwatches belonging to this category needed to be easy to read and wear while flying, without the pilot having to take his hands off the cloche; they were therefore worn on top of the leather flying suit, with the dial facing the inside of the wrist, and angled at 50° clockwise to make it easier to read.
Having said this, we can afford to claim that the Longines Heritage Avigation Watch Type A-7 (Avigation=Aeronautical Navigation) is the quintessential re-issue of a Type A-7 WWII wristwatch. Longines launched it on the market more than two years ago (we didn't even exist as a magazine) as a faithful re-edition of the original version.
For a short period of time, a limited number of the original Type A-7 model has been produced even for civilian use: those lucky enough to own one, are envied by most collectors. Timepieces from the Heritage collection are quite big in size: add 1,5mm to a Lindbergh's case, and you'll get the Type A-7's 49mm wide case. Its black dial features big white Arabic numerals, to make it easier for pilots to read it even in harsh conditions, such as strong turbulence and vibrations.
A tachymetric scale can be found on the outer ring of the dial, while the small window date is placed by the 6; this feature will only be found in this newer version, and is operated via a small corrector at 7. The Longines Heritage Avigation Watch Type A-7 (L2.718.104.22.168) is a single push-piece chronograph, with a small button placed at 12, coaxial to the onion shaped winding crown, by which you can start, stop and reset the chronograph’s functions.
Between the hours of 2 and 3 a tiny pusher “unlocks” a mirror polished lid, on which Longines has reproduced its historical logo: I do think this is one of the most successful parallels between this timepiece and the original version. Through a sapphire crystal, this lid offers access to the automated L788 movement, equipped with a column wheel chronograph device (clearly visible in our photo), the balance wheel that vibrates at 4Hz and a power reserve, when fully wound, of up to 54 hours.
The Longines Heritage Avigation Watch Type A-7 is the most atypical choice from the Heritage collection, mainly conceived for nostalgics, military watches enthusiasts, or for those in search of an aesthetically different aviator watch. For this purpose it is nice to see that it also comes with a replacement extendable strap, which really does give you the option of being able to wear it on top of the sleeve of a vintage aviation suit. The case’s width is remarkable, but engineers at Longines have worked hard to make it the slimmest possible, so that it is quite comfortable, but it is certainly best suited for male wrists. It retails at a price between 3200€-3400€ (I have no official price list yet, but I believe this to be a pretty accurate estimate). I consider this to be very competitive, especially if you think that the A-7 is a single push-piece chronograph, with a column wheel mechanism and a 100% mirror polished case; to this I would just add more personalization to the winding rotor and hopefully, in the near future, a manual wind caliber.
(Photo credit: Google; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®