The Longines HydroConquest Steel & PVD watches hands-on
In 2018, the flagship Longines HydroConquest collection underwent a significant overhaul. Featuring a polished ceramic inlay, a sleeker dial, upgraded bracelet and self-winding movement, the watchmaker introduced a more contemporary yet affordable luxury sports watch. It comes equipped with top-of-the-range diving watch's specifications (e.g., a 300-meter water resistance) and attention to detail to outperform the competition and the outgoing collection, too, still listed on its official website and offering a close-to-one-hundred Euros sticker price.
The current HydroConquest collection looks timeless; sales volumes keep growing at a steady pace. If you happen to spend some time with Longines' official dealers across the country, you'll discover they're more than happy to have included Longines and the Longines HydroConquest, in their brands' portfolio. When a formula works, it just works. You won't do anything to affect the sales performance; take a look at the Legend Diver, another brand's hero, for instance. It's virtually the same watch since it was initially reissued, the only upgrades being new materials, improved mechanical movement and range extenders to make the recipe more compelling moving forward. Although I won't expect the HydroConquest to grow further and adopt a non-sense bronze case, Longines unstoppably extends the offering while refreshing the collection and potentially attract new buyers.
2021 marks the introduction of several two-tone options, which is the leading trend across luxury sports watch manufacturers, adding a more luxurious and refined touch to timepieces originally conceived as diving watches. You'll spot plenty of options out there, offering different kinds of colour and material combinations according to price point and class of products. Whether you opt for steel and Gold, or gold-looking treatments, a two-tone diving watch is the next big thing following up the blue or green treatment. However, two-tone watches are not my cup of tea, even more so when such brands are not adopting Gold.
Let's find out what Longines did with the HydroConquest. The designers opted for state-of-the-art PVD treatment to mimic yellow or rose gold accents paired with a blue and grey layout. Surprisingly, I'll pick the grey and rose Gold over the blue one; it feels much less "deja vu" than its counterpart. To my eyes, it's a striking combination and, in the flesh, more conservative and subtle than anywhere else.
The rubber strap plays a significant role in defining the watch's identity; the two tones HydroConquest is an all-rounder, with a refined folding clasp you can eventually dive with too. Let's try and list the pros and cons: the HydroConquest is among the best value-for-money luxury diving watches in its price category, despite Longines steadily moving upmarket.
The build quality is excellent; the crown signature trapezoidal-shaped protectors and the three oversized Arabic numerals are a HydroConquest's hallmark; thumbs up to the lovely-engineered ceramic inlay. In contrast, thumbs down as you start rotating the bezel, which is not as precise and crisp as you'd expect on a timepiece this detailed. Originally conceived as a functional component, the graduated rotating bezel holds today a consistent part of the user experience. Here is where Longines should focus to square the circle.
"Look and feel" is a priority and some competitors currently outperform the HydroConquest in this area. Thumbs up on a well-crafted strap showcasing printed Longines logo and an equally appealing solid case back with engraved polished and brushed historic Longines logo on top. Sporting a 41 millimetres large case housing the L888.5 calibre with 72 hours of power reserve and a silicon hairspring, the Longines HydroConquest in steel and PVD Gold adds the brand's much-respected awareness too. Finally, by adopting a silicon balance spring, the Longines HydroConquest offers a five-year extended warranty, thus making the timepiece a hard-to-beat proposition at such a price tag (1710 euros).
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®