The Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle 90 Anniversary
It is quite common that the worlds of watch-making and aviation cross path and that a great enterprise is often linked to a great timepiece, after all, the latter has always been the first navigation instrument ever crafted and also the best alley that a pilot has ever had at their disposal. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh carried out the first solo crossing of the Atlantic without any stops on board a single-seat-aircraft, he flew from Roosevelt Field (NY) to Champs de la Bourget (Paris) wearing a Longines that he had personally engineered and developed for the event; the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle that could determine its longitude (angle) measured on the Greenwich meridian. This year, we are celebrating the 90th anniversary of this historical enterprise and there couldn’t be a better occurrence to release a re-edition of this timepiece; an authentic milestone in the history of this brand.
The main feature of the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle 90 Anniversary is that it can calculate its own longitude (and its position) in a very fast, reliable and precise manner through a sophisticated dials system. Within the white dial, you can see Arabic numerals ranging from 15 to 180; they represent the hourly 15 degree Earth’s rotation (360° in 24 hours or 15° per hour) and they are displayed through the hours hand. The minutes hand indicates 1° every 4th minute; these can be seen on the black central dial containing figures ranging from 1 to 15 (15° in 1 hour, 1° in 4 minutes).
The outer ring’s task is that of indicating the fractions of the arc; each hourly 15 degree is divided into 4 sectors, each sector measures 15’ of arc. Through the ring and the minutes/hours hands, you can identify the rotation of the Earth’s axis with a 15’ of arc susceptibility and this whole dials system allows you to check the time and the hourly angle at the same time. If you want to calculate the exact longitude, you will need additional instruments, like, for instance, a sextant, an almanac, the ephemeris table and the watch would also need to be synchronized with the exact Greenwich Time.
If you correct the time equation properly (the difference between Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time) and if you know the exact time at the location, where you currently are (through a meridian, for example), you will be able to calculate the longitude as the difference between the two local times in hour angles.
This system is quite ingenious and “anachronistic” for today’s standards, despite being still in use, but if we go back to Lindbergh’s 1927, you can easily understand the magnitude of his enterprise and the important role that this timepiece played in it. This is the reason why this watch is considered a milestone in Longines’s history and in aviation history alike.
The automatic Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle 90 Anniversary features a case with a diameter of 47,5mm and is equipped with an ETA L699 calibre (running at a frequency of 28,800 alternations per hour) that guarantees up to 42 hours of power reserve. The timepiece comes in two versions; one is made of stainless steel and the other one is a titanium limited edition retailing at 5,130 euro. It is not the first time that Longines releases a re-edition of the Hour Angle, but this is the release with the least amount of pieces; 90 pieces that mark each year that has passed by since Lindbergh’s enterprise and today (1927-2017). This is definitely a collector’s item.
The leather strap sports a “Charlestone” buckle. The size is quite an important one, but it is totally justifiable if you consider that this is an aviator timepiece that needs to be fully readable and also that the size is the exact same as that of the original version. There are no compromises (and rightly so) as Longines has made us used to with its Heritage versions, but only respect for history. The dial is enamelled, the finishing of high quality, the black ring has undergone a PVD-treatment and the “Breguet” hands are made of blued stainless steel. The stainless steel case-back with a zipper can be opened up to reveal the movement hosted within that is also viewable through a sapphire glass; it is getting rarer and rarer to witness similar choices and those who really appreciate the brand in its pure form and fans of watch-making history will only agree with this characteristic.
The Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle 90 Anniversary is not your standard Longines, but rather a timepiece that made history and that is dedicated to history, to memory and to those who dream of constantly overcoming their own limitations. Lindbergh attained something unthinkable of for his time and this timepiece is a milestone that is there to remind us of this achievement. Despite its big size, this timepiece is easy to wear thanks to its leather strap that perfectly matches wrists of different sizes and it is also a watch that doesn’t go unnoticed; the special treatment that a watch like this truly deserves.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Andrea Frigerio @Horbiter®