As its superb Spirit Zulu Time last year showed, Longines has a surprising pedigree in GMT watches. It has been doing dual time zone timekeepers for going on a century, if predominantly for use as cockpit instruments – which, honestly, is the place that makes the most sense for it. If you’re regularly crossing meridians these days, you’re going to be doing it by plane.
That hasn’t stopped dive watches getting in on the action, ubiquitous as they are, and Dive- GMTs have become a niche though well-represented sub-genre of wider ocean-dwelling watches. So, it’s not too much of a surprise to see that Longines has now jumped right in with its new HydroConquest GMT.
The HydroConquest is the most modern of all Longines watches, its answer to the pricier Submariners and Seamasters of the world. In fact, it pretty much nails the archetype, with a rugged 41mm stainless steel case, unidirectional rotating bezel and 300m water resistance, offering a professional, ISO-standard tool watch. It’s all relatively formulaic in conception, which is no bad thing given the stringent necessities of an actual dive watch.
That formula has also left Longines plenty of room to offer a bit more variance throughout the collection, with plenty of different coloured dials and bi-colour options aplenty. Until now though, it had no complications, keeping true to the utilitarian vibe it’s designed for – which, as the addition of the GMT shows, was overdue for a shake-up.
I’m more than happy to see it. At 41mm the HydroConquest is a nicely-sized diver for my wrist and I’m a fan of GMTs in general and Dive-GMTs in particular, pieces like Tudor’s Black Bay GMT. However, where that particular watch sacrifices its diving usefulness for a day-night indicator bezel, the HydroConquest GMT does not. That’s good news for anyone that actually wants to dive with it but makes the functionality a touch less intuitive for anyone that doesn’t.
Colourwise, there are four different variations that are all very Longines. The blue and black are relatively standard in the pantheon of dive watch colours, with a few orange red highlights to make the black more interesting. As if to signal that these are the more old-school divers, they both come on rubber straps along with the bracelets. Not so the other two.
The other versions are a gorgeous chocolate brown and this, Longines’ answer to the Hulk in its signature olive green and a black bezel. These two feel a bit more vintage, not just in their lovely colours, but in the fact that they come on military style NATO straps instead of rubber. I much prefer this look, and the green and black is by far the standout of the collection, in large part because of the gilt indexes and handset. The gold and green combo is always a good one and the black bezel sets it apart from the rest of the collection in the best possible way.
On the wrist, that sunray green catches the light magnificently, sometimes almost black, sometimes light olive, always a distinctive shade of green a mile away from the more common (and somewhat overplayed) forest of emerald hues, perfectly complemented by the green NATO. It also feels great on. 41mm is my upper limit for size, but the lugs aren’t too long, meaning it sits well.
The crown protector is chunky without being an imposition and, surprisingly, the HydroConquest GMT is actually thinner than the Zulu Time at 12.9mm thick. All of that makes it a great everyday watch, as much as the inclusion of a GMT function.
Speaking of, it’s worth noting that it’s a true GMT, with an independently adjustable local time hour hand, rather than an independently adjustable GMT hand. Your preference comes down to how you use it; if you stay at home but have meetings with other territories, an office GMT is perfect. If you actually travel regularly, like I do, being able to quickly adjust local time when you land as in true GMTs like this is way better.
Of course, there’s more to the calibre L844 than that. Longines has been a proponent of silicon balance springs for years, ever since ETA started cornering the market on the things. Paired with a few more non-magnetic components, it has serious antimagnetic properties. Put it this way: if your watch isn’t resistant, you may need to get hold of a CRT monitor from a charity shop. It also has a weekend-proof 72-hour power reserve, which is nothing short of impressive at this price point.
The HydroConquest GMT on its bracelet will set you back £2,650. Sure, that’s more than Mido’s conceptually similar offering (Mido being a Swatch Group sibling of Longines that for some daft reason we don’t get here in the UK), but the quality here easily justifies the price. Hell, I’d stack it up against a fair few watches that are a lot more expensive. I won’t name names, but you know what I mean.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Longines HydroConquest GMT
- Ref: L3.790.4.06.6
- Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 12.90mm thickness, stainless steel case, green sunray dial, unidirectional rotating ceramic bezel
- Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
- Movement: Longines calibre L844.5, automatic with silicon balance-spring, 21 jewels
- Frequency: 25,200 vph (3.5 Hz)
- Power reserve: 72h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT (24-hour hand)
- Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with double-safety folding clasp and micro-adjustment
- Price/availability: £2,650