If the continuing excellence of Longines’ Heritage collection has taught us anything, it’s that the brand has one hell of a deep history. And, like many an old watchmaking name, that history is very much tied-up with that of aviation. The brand’s winged hourglass has graced the wrist of many a legendary aviator; the Amelia Earhart, Paul-Emile Victor, Howard Hughes and the like.
The watches on their wrists – or in Hughes’ case, his entire circumnavigational crew – have served as the basis for the new Longines Spirit collection. This isn’t a ream of recreations though; the Heritage collection already has that nailed. Instead, the new pieces take little bits from those heritage pieces to influence their more contemporary design.
What that essentially boils down to is a capsule collection of handsome, elegant pilots watches, split between time-and-date models and a chronograph. Elements like the oversized crown, designed to be worked with pilots gloves, or the pronounced step around the crystal are all very much heritage aviation touches, though toned down to look timeless rather than dated.
Inside though, the Spirit is pure watchmaking modernity. Well, as far as a decent automatic can be, at least. The self-winding movements are equipped with silicon balance springs and have impressive power reserves besides – 64 hours for the L888.4-equipped automatic, 60 hours for the L688.4 chronograph. Reliability shouldn’t be an issue.
The nice, clean, time-and-date version (for me the better aviation model) is available in two sizes of stainless steel case – 40mm and 42mm – while the chronograph on the other hand is only available in 42mm. Both come in a trio of colours: black, silver and sunray blue.
Each is available with a steel bracelet or leather strap in blue, light brown or dark brown, though if you’re having trouble deciding, you can get it with bracelet, strap and a NATO number together. Definitely go for that one; the straps are easy enough to change.
While I’m still waiting for the next Longines Heritage instalment (in case you didn’t realise yet, I really like those pieces), the Spirit is a nice if not ground-breaking call-back to the aviation side of Longines. If all it does is remind people of the watchmaker’s importance, that’s worth doing. That the Spirit is a nice watch anyway is a decent bonus, too.
Price & Specs:
Ref: L3.810, L3.811; L3.820 (chronograph)
Case/Dial: 40mm or 42mm diameter, stainless steel
Water Resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: L3.810, L3.811 – Calibre L888.4 (A31.L11), mechanical self-winding movement with silicon balance spring, COSC certified, 21 jewels, 25,200 vph (3.5 Hz), power reserve: 64 hours
L3.820 – Calibre L688.4 (ETA A08.L01), mechanical self-winding movement with silicon balance spring, COSC certified, 27 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz), power reserve: 64 hours
Functions: L3.810, L3.811 – Hours, minutes, seconds and date aperture at 3 o’clock
LM.820 – Hours, minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock and date aperture at 4:30 o’clock, chronograph, central 60-second hand, 30-minutes counter at 3 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock
Strap: Standard version – Dark brown, light brown or blue leather strap with buckle, stainless steel bracelet, triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism
Prestige edition – 3 bracelet/straps with interchangeable system, stainless steel bracelet, double safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism, dark brown, light brown or blue leather strap with buckle, NATO strap with buckle
Price: £1,650 – £2,130 (L3.810)
£1,720 – £2,220 (L3.811)
More details at Longines.