Part 1 - Between Baselworld and Milan
This article on the Longines HydroConquest is the first of two articles dedicated to the HydroConquest collection; a diver’s watch deserves to be photographed at sea or during a diving session, but summer is still a bit far away for me and the photos that you can see on here were taken by our photographer at Baselworld 2018 and in our photo studio in Milan. There are two topics we will be tackling; the product analysis, its characteristics, what I like the most about it and what I would improve and a further analysis of on the time only and the chrono versions in their natural environment.
It is an approach that I also adopted on other occasions, for example when I released the two articles dedicated to a watch belonging to the same group; the Mido Ocean Star Captain Titanium that launched this trend on Horbiter®. From the meeting rooms of the fair it moved to the wrist of professional kite-surfers, but this is not the point; if a Longines Heritage Lindbergh Hour Angle 90 Anniversary can naturally move within the elegant showrooms of an international fair, a diver’s watch deserves to be contextualized. This is the destiny that awaits the Longines HydroConquest.
A simple name
Kudos to the brand for choosing this name! The HydroConquest collection is now a well-established Longines collection and the choice of a short name is a smart move, not only because it is easy to pronounce it in all languages, but because it is easy to remember. It is not a trivial concept and I like talking about communication topics; many brands should understand that, in addition to reducing the number of their references, they should also use simply names; that way the whole communication campaign would be running in a smoother manner.
Despite its apparent simplicity, there are two characteristics that, when mixed together, allow the user to recognize a HydroConquest at first sight; the hours hand has a vague "snowflake" shape and the large Arabic numerals are filled with SuperLuminova® at 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. This configuration has remained untouched from the moment the collection was launched; the only difference is that, in the course of the years, Longines have constantly improved their product by simplifying the dial of the HydroConquest so as to make it both more readable and raise its status to a more elegant diver’s watch (the strong color shades have been eliminated and the Arabic numerals have been replaced with circular edged indices).
Where the HydroConquest has changed
Before going into detail as to what has changed and where it has changed, let us pause for a minute on what has not changed and what is still part of the pedigree of the collection (see my explanation above). A distinctive element, necessary when dealing with the analysis of a three-hands-diver’s watch, is the presence of the protection shoulders for the crown and the shape of the crown itself. On the Longines HydroConquest the crown shows a clear knurling, with a flat head and the Longines logo, it is very high too, whereas the shoulders are two trapezoids. On the chrono version, the protective shoulders include the chronograph buttons. Praise should be given to the crafting of the case and the bracelet that, considering the positioning of the Longines HydroConquest, are very well-made, especially in the area, where the case and the first link of the bracelet meet (the one attaching to the case).
The teeth on the bezel are quite beautiful too, they are slightly higher on the chrono version, because its rotating bezel is higher than that of the time only version; it is a simple matter of the thickness of the case and the ratio between the respective dimensions of the case and the bezel. One thing that could be improved is functionality of the bezel that lacks a certain operating smoothness.
The current bezel is well-crafted and shows a beautiful ceramic ring that marks the pace compared to the past, but it is too stiff in its rotation phase and that’s a pity. The time only version is perfect when it comes to the ratio between the diameter (41mm) and the thickness, while the chronograph is definitely thicker and heavier, but is very sporty. For the summertime, my suggestion is to replace the bracelet with a black, gray or blue Longines strap made of rubber. The three versions that you can see in these photos all measure 41mm, but there are also versions with a diameter of 43mm.
The incredible positioning of the Longines HydroConquest never stops to amaze me
The Longines HydroConquest timepieces are equipped with the L888.2 and the L688.2 calibres, respectively. These are calibres that ETA is crafting for Longines with tailor-made specifications. It is not bad at all to be provided with 54 hours of power reserve on the chrono version that turn to 64 hours on the time only with date movement. In any case we are talking about specifications that can fully guarantee a fully functioning watch, even during prolonged diving sessions alternated to a standard daily use of the timepiece.
What is incredible is the retail price; €1,100 for the three-hands-version and €1,790 for the time only version are two extremely unique retail prices for an automatic timepiece. What amazes me is the ability that such an important brand like Longines has to offer a conveniently priced list of watches, while still being able to improve their products. Between the first Longines HydroConquest and the last one quite a lot has changed, but the retail price has never exceeded the threshold of reasonableness and it is this reasonableness, combined with the content, which continues to favor the success of the Longines brand.
2019: please welcome the Longines HydroConquest Ceramic.
In 2019, Longines and the other brands belonging to the Swatch Group officially abandoned Baselworld. Longines unveiled, therefore, its new product novelties after the fair, with the new Longines HydroConquest Ceramic being as unexpected as impressive. The Swatch Group has remarkable technical expertise in ceramic case making and is extending the use of this technology, that has long been restricted to Rado and top-end brands, throughout its portfolio. A diving watch showcasing a ceramic case is no longer a taboo.
Featuring a 43mm large case, the Longines HydroConquest Ceramic is slightly different from a stock HydroConquest, in that it has a one-piece case (case back excluded) that includes crown protectors, while the lugs are longer and thicker than what usually found on any other HydroConquest. This choice is typically dictated by the need to ensure greater mechanical strength to a case whose compound offers superior resistance to scratches, yet less resistance to shocks.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Simona Bertogliatti)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®