Longines represents an excellent entry point into the world of fine Swiss-made watches. During the brand’s 182-year history, it has served as an official Olympic timer, supplied timepieces to multiple expeditions and to the International Aviation Federation, won numerous Grand Prix competitions, and of course created the famous Lindberg Hour Angle pilots’ watch. Today, Longines offers a broad range of great-looking watches at attractive prices. Here are five we can recommend for new collectors.
Longines Conquest 24 Hours
The Longines Conquest line exemplifies the brand’s spirit for adventure. The Conquest 24 Hour combines the purposeful look of an explorer’s tool watch with an air of elegance that makes it appropriate for all occasions. The dial displays are crystal clear, and the 41-mm case strikes an excellent balance between oversize sports models and undersize dress watches, making it a versatile companion. The crystal is sapphire with an anti-reflective coating. The screw-in crown contributes to the 50-meter water resistance rating. The bright red 24-hour hand lets the owner track a second time zone.
The Longines Conquest 24 Hours is priced at $1,600.*
With its 300 meter water resistance rating, the HydroConquest is no poseur. To our eyes, the red dial accents give this dive chronograph a strong sporting character. The case measures 41 mm x 15.7 mm, and it houses the mechanical, automatic winding caliber L688 column-wheel chronograph movement, developed exclusively for Longines by ETA. The subdials include a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, and small continuous seconds at 9 o’clock. The screw-down caseback, lateral crown protection and sapphire crystal offer protection from the elements, and the luminous hands and Arabic numerals let you read the time in all lighting conditions. Divers will appreciate the unidirectional bezel and double safety folding clasp.
The Longines HydroConquest chronograph retails for $2,325.
Longines Master Automatic Chronograph
For many collectors, when you ask them to think Longines, this is the look that comes to mind. The Master collection includes only mechanical watches offering classic looks. The stainless steel case is classically sized at 38.5 mm, and the dial has a richly textured silver barleycorn finish – another nod to tradition. The dial sets off the blued steel hands to great effect. The movement is a Longines Caliber L651 with central chronograph seconds and a 30-minutes counter at 9 o’clock. The continuous small seconds are located at 9 o’clock. The movement can be viewed through a sapphire display back.
The Master Automatic Chronograph retails for $2,775.
Longines Heritage 1973
The Heritage 1973 is one our favorite models from Longines. Some might call the look retro, but we prefer modern and timeless. The look is based on a watch Longines produced during the 1970s, and to our eye, the design has aged very well. This is not a cookie-cutter watch, but one with flair and individuality. It just works.
The 40-mm cushion case secures a movement to be proud of – an L688 Longines column-wheel chronograph. The column wheel controls the start, stop and reset actions, and it is an expensive construction found in the finest chronographs. This movement is manufactured by ETA exclusively for Longines. A clear sapphire caseback lets you view the chronograph mechanism, with its blued column wheel, in action.
We also like the subdial presentation. At first glance, the twin black registers give the watch a bi-compax look, but then you notice the white 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock. The blue tachymeter scale that circles the outer edge of the dial adds just a hint of color. The dial is very well balanced with a clarity that gives it a purposeful look.
The Longines Heritage 1973 is priced at $3,275.
Avigation Oversize Crown
Longine’s history is rich with aviation achievements, the aforementioned Lindberg Hour Angle being but one example. The Avigation Oversize Crown chronograph design is based on a watch Longines produced during the 1920s. Unlike many modern pilots’ watches that are too large to wear comfortably, this model measures 41 mm in diameter, meaning you can wear it anywhere. But it is no shrinking violet. The bold design makes a strong statement on the wrist.
Pilots’ watches are all about legibility, and this piece offers it in abundance. Its black dial, white numerals and gold-plated, luminous, pear-shaped hands are extremely easy to read. The bezel is marked with a single white, triangular index that can be rotated in either direction, allowing pilots to set chronographic reference points. The fluted finish on the bezel and crown carry over from the early days of aviation, when cockpits were not heated. The size and texture allow the bezel and crown to be easily manipulated, even when wearing thick leather gloves.
We like the bi-compax chronograph layout, and together with the large date display at 6 o’clock, the dial is very well balanced. The main attraction lies behind the dial – a monopusher, column-wheel chronograph movement. These are quite rare, and typically found in watches with five-figure prices. Indeed, some people may experience a moment of confusion upon noticing chronograph subdials but no pushers. In this case, the oversize crown doubles as the chronograph push piece, controlling the start, stop, and rest functions, which is why the crown is set away from the case. And as noted, there’s a column wheel to boot, all visible through a sapphire display back.
At $3,500, the Avigation Oversize Crown chronograph is the most expensive piece we’ve selected, but it nonetheless represents outstanding value.
This article was originally published in 2015; prices are subject to change.