We at Fratello Watches are keen on re-editions of vintage timepieces of certain eras, but they need to be very well executed in order to succeed as such. Perhaps this also explains why certain watches that never changed that much are often a brand’s key to success; take the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” or the Rolex Submariner, for example.
You can’t really say that modern versions of these watches are re-editions, because their production has (mostly) never been halted. A good example of a well-executed re-edition is — in my opinion — the OMEGA Seamaster Ploprof 1200M. Another example is the watch that I review here, the Longines Legend Diver.
Approximately 50 years ago, Longines had a very similar diver watch, with an automatic caliber 290 Longines movement inside. This 42-mm Longines Diver watch had dimensions that are similar to the current Longines Legend Diver watch. Longines did a good job in revamping this icon from its own history.
A quick search on eBay tells me that these vintage Longines Diver watches can easily go for up to $8,000. (see below photo of the vintage Longines, captured from eBay). If you are not prepared to pay that, or don’t want to risk the pitfalls I’ve previously discussed of the buying vintage watches, you can always consider its re-edition: the Legend Diver by Longines.
Longines loaned me the Legend Diver Date model for this review. The Legend Diver was introduced in 2007, without a date feature. In 2009, Longines added a version with a date complication. For some reason, Longines decided to stop the production and delivery of the no-Date version in 2011-2012. Personally, I wouldn’t mind the version without the date aperture, as it comes closer to the original and it doesn’t disturb the otherwise clean dial.
The Longines Legend Diver Date has been on my wrist for a couple of weeks and I have to say that is a very comfortable wearer. The 42-mm diameter is just perfect and matches the current “standard” size for such timepieces. I can only imagine that the original version of this must have seemed huge in the early 1960s! One of the reasons why it is so comfortable is probably the synthetic strap that comes with the watch. The other side of the synthetic strap has a lining of a felt-like material. This ensures that the watch is easy on the wrist (no sweating issues) and that it stays put.
The watch has two crowns; the lower one is for setting time (and date) and the upper one is for rotating the inner diving bezel. Both crowns have the same hobnail pattern as the original Longines Diver watches and are easy to grasp and operate.
A “Super Compressor” case like the one on this Longines Legend Diver is not that uncommon, as we’ve seen similar ones from Jaeger-LeCoultre, for example. In the past, companies like Universal Genève (Polerouter Sub), LIP (Nautic Ski), Benrus, and Fortis have used them as well.
The term “Compressor” relates to the case’s seal construction, which ensures water resistance through pressure on the gaskets. “Super Compressor” is similar to standard “Compressor,” but also features a screw-down caseback. (Some people think the term also has something to do with the two crowns, but it doesn’t.) More information about Compressor cases can be found on the Scuba watch website.
On top of the 42-mm diameter case is a domed sapphire crystal. Although I wouldn’t have minded a plexiglas crystal on this watch, I can understand why Longines chose the more scratch-resistant material. And although most buyers of this watch will almost certainly be so-called desk divers, the watch is capable of handling water pressure at depths down to 300 meters.
The black lacquered dial of the Longines Legend Diver Date is just beautiful. It was one of the things, together with the Super Compressor case and two crowns, that make this watch so interesting to me. The painted luminous (Super-LumiNova) hour markers and hands are a bit yellowish, like patina. The lume of the dial is good and makes it very readable in the dark. The hands are polished and contrast very well with the dial, perfectly readable from all angles.
Another aspect I like about this watch is that it lacks a lot of needless information on the dial. All you see here is the Longines brand name & logo and the fact that it is an automatic watch. All other information, like the water-resistance level, the reference number, the model name, and even the fact that it is Swiss made is on the caseback, along with a central embossed emblem of a diver holding a harpoon.
Longines is part of the Swatch Group, and one of the advantages of that is that the brand is able to use various movements from ETA. While other watch companies seem to be concerned about developing in-house movements more for marketing reasons than for the sake of creating cool watches, Longines picked the ETA2824-2 for its Legend Diver Date. I really believe that a reasonable price is more important to most consumers than an in-house developed movement. I’ve seen other companies double the price for certain watches after adding an in-house movement to them, which frankly doesn’t make sense to me. Also, the ETA 2824-2 (like many other ETA movements) has a perfect track record of being a solid and accurate movement.
And the previous paragraph brings us to the price of the watch. As with the Longines Saint-Imier Retrograde Moon Phases (read my review on it here), the price is one of this watch’s most attractive features. This Longines Legend Diver Date has a retail price of $1,900.
At first, I couldn’t believe that this was the actual price tag. It is very (very!) competitive with a lot of similar watches out there. For that kind of money, you could probably buy a nice vintage piece from certain other brands, but there are always a number of things to consider (possibility of expensive repair or maintenance costs, very small case diameter) with that option. If you don’t want to deal with these issues and would prefer a cool modern watch (with interesting heritage), the Longines Legend Diver Date might do the trick for you.
To sum up, here are my pros and cons, followed by detailed specs:
– interesting heritage
– competitive price
– pretty dial
– “super compressor” case
– finish of dial and case
– comfortable strap
– date aperture disturbs dial design (you can find a No-Date on the pre-owned circuit)
Longines Legend Diver Date L3.6126.96.36.199 Specifications:
Type: Super Compressor
Diameter: 42 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 300 meters/30 bar
Crystal: domed sapphire with nonreflective coating
Super-LumiNova on hour markers and hands
Black synthetic fabric, felt-lined; stainless steel buckle with Longines logo
Longines Caliber L633 (ETA2824-2), 28,800 vph, 38-hour power reserve
Hours, minutes, seconds, date, inner rotating divers’ bezel