The Longines Spirit Collection
...and a closer look at the chronograph.
The wristwatch played a key role during the early days of exploration, where modern navigation tools were just a dream, and the only available ones were a compass, maps, and, ultimately, your watch. Precise timekeeping, sturdiness, and reliability had to support explorers accurately make all the calculations necessary to safely and precisely pinpoint the correct route while withstanding the harshest conditions.
Longines boasts a long-standing tradition in the field of exploration (I strongly suggest you pay a visit to the brand's museum). Thanks to the prowess of Longines watches, many explorers used to wrap a timepiece with the winged hourglass on the dial, during their most demanding expeditions, around their wrist. The Heritage collection, for example, includes an iconic timepiece used by Charles Lindbergh while navigating onboard the Spirit of St.Louis; we're talking about the Longines Heritage Charles Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch of course. With the introduction of the new Spirit collection, Longines aims at celebrating flight and exploration's pioneers, whose companion was always a Longines watch. Women and men like Amelia Earhart, Elinor Smith, Paul-Emile Victor, and Howard Hughes.
The new Longines Spirit collection carefully blends old and new, the classic design of aviator watches with modern technology to create high-precision instruments geared towards ideally supporting 21st-century modern explorers and their endeavors. The new Longines Spirit comes in two models, only time with date and a three-register chronograph, along with several dial options (blue, black, silver), either on a steel bracelet or leather strap. The satin-finished case comes in two sizes, 40mm and 42mm. The time only is available in both sizes, while the chronograph is exclusively offered as a 42mm timepiece. Let's start with the collection's main features; later, we'll focus on the chronograph version. The Spirit is a modern take on a classic aviator watch: the crown is big, and with no protective shoulders at all, the bezel is smooth and polished, the push-piece buttons are rounded and classic. The quick date adjustment on the chrono is guaranteed by a screwed-in button that is placed at 10 o'clock, which, at first glance, makes you wonder you're wearing a double chronograph.
The dial comes, like the model pictured here, with a beautiful dark blue and sunray finish, paired to applied Arabic numerals, coated with plenty of Super-LumiNova® to ensure maximum readability in dim light or dark. Also, I think the red tip on the central second hand and those placed on the small hour and 30-minute counters' hands are a nice touch indeed as exquisite are the squared and recessed luminous indexes set beneath the chapter ring. The perceived build quality is impressive; the design team paid great attention to the tiniest detail, including the date window, which is dark in the blue and black options, and white on the silver dial instead. As you can see, placed under the winged logo are five applied stars highlighting this is as an officially certified Chronometer. The case back carries the Longines logo and is screwed, as is the crown, to make sure the timepiece is water-resistant to 10 bar.
Under the hood, there's the L688.4 caliber; an automatic chronograph movement designed for this timepiece; it has a column-wheel mechanism, a silicon balance spring, and COSC certification. It is an evolution of the L688.2 that equips the Longines Heritage Avigation Big Eye, although the maximum power reserve extends to 60 hours (instead of the standard 54 hours). I think this is great value considering some competitors who cost more than twice as much usually offer between 44-hour and 50-hour maximum power reserve. Conversely, I'm quite surprised to discover there's no inner soft-iron case to protect the movement against magnetic fields, a feat quite popular among aviator watches.
Nonetheless, such features make the Longines Spirit Chronograph a superb value proposition. The Longines Spirit Chronograph is offered either with a bracelet or leather strap and comes in three color options, blue, black and silver, all retailing for 2,980 Euros. Summarizing, I think the new Longines Spirit chronograph (and the collection) is beautifully designed and offers a great mix of sleek design, top specifications, at the right price. My only concerns are the following: the former regards the case size: my guessing is that a 39mm option would widen the audience further, and I think 40mm are the threshold for perfect wearability; the latter regards mechanical complication. Instead of just adding a third push-piece button to correct the date, why not opt for a split chronograph instead? I hope it is in the works already, and, as far as it concerns, it would be more than welcome by watch aficionados. For additional details on the Spirit collection, please visit the official Longines website.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Longines)
Francesco Falcone @Horbiter®