As any longtime reader of the “Vintage Eye” series knows, Longines is a major leader when it comes to vintage-inspired and vintage-reissue watches. With its neo-vintage Heritage collection, which includes attention-grabbing models like the Heritage Classic Chronograph 1946, Heritage Military Watch, and Heritage 1945, among many others, the Swiss brand has been at the forefront of capitalizing upon the nostalgic tastes of consumers.
This week we’ll be taking a look at the latest additions to the Longines Heritage collection: two new 1940s-inspired pieces called the Heritage Classic Tuxedo Chronograph and Heritage Classic Tuxedo Time-only. Both of these new models take their inspiration from the postwar period and the sector-dial designs that were popular at the time (vintage examples pictured above and below); incidentally, this is the same period from which our subject of last week, the Montblanc Heritage GMT, drew much of its influences. The new Tuxedo sub-series of watches are the second and third sector-dial watches released by Longines in the past year, following up the Heritage Classic “Sector” released in the fall of 2019.
Heritage Classic Tuxedo Chronograph (Ref. L2.818.104.22.168)
In the new Heritage Classic Tuxedo Chronograph, we find an attractive vintage reissue with modest proportions and, of course, the fascinating two-toned dial from which it takes its name. The chronograph uses what is likely a highly wearable polished steel case — sized at 40 mm, with curved lugs on its top and bottom, slightly rounded rectangular lugs, a signed crown on its side, and an uncommon stepped bezel securing the domed sapphire crystal and providing the case with a slightly thicker appearance. Underneath the crystal, the vintage-style sector dial is accented throughout with blacks, whites, silvers, and blues. On the outer edge is the first step of the sectoring, with a white tachymetric scale accented in blue, dramatically transitioning to the first inner sector, now in black. This middle piece of the dial features a printed minute ring produced in a chronograph style, with vintage-style printed Arabic numerals for the hour indices, while two metal subdials for a 30-minute counter and running seconds break up the sector and conjoin it with the innermost area. On the final, central segment, colored off-white, we see the final details on the dial, such as the vintage Longines logo towards its top, leaf hands for the hour and minute, and a blue steel hand for the chronograph seconds.
Inside the Heritage Classic Tuxedo Chronograph is the Calibre L895 (based on the ETA A31.L21), which features 37 jewels, beats at 28,800 vph, and hosts a 54-hour power reserve.
Heritage Classic Tuxedo Time-only (Ref. L2.322.214.171.124)
The simpler but still very uncommon Heritage Classic Tuxedo Time-only most likely would strike fans of the brand as quite similar to the previous “Sector” timepiece launched by Longines last year. This model’s polished case opts for a slightly more modest size, 38.5 mm, and features slimmer lugs and a thicker, more modern signed crown on its side. Surrounding the watch’s face is a more traditional, smoothly rounded bezel rather than the stepped style seen on the chronograph, though the crystal protecting the dial is still a vintage-inspired domed sapphire. On the dial, we find a somewhat simpler configuration than that of the chronograph, with only two sections. On the black outer sector is a simple white-accented minute ring, with printed faux-patina Arabic numerals for the hour markers. Inside it is the inner sector which hosts a seconds subdial towards the 6 o’clock position, a vintage-style Longines logo in parallel toward 12 o’clock, and straight sword-style hands for the hour and minute.
The Time-only Tuxedo watch is powered by the Longines Caliber L893 (ETA A31.501), which features 27 jewels, 25,200 vibrations per hour, and maintains a relatively lengthy 64 hour power reserve.
Focusing in on the vintage traits of the two models, it’s clear Longines has made a clear significant effort in re-producing each model as faithfully as tenable. Specifically looking at the chronograph, the model is virtually identical in aesthetic sans a few differences in the font for the tachymeter (blue on the modern version), the opposite position of the subdial hands, and thicker and more rounded construction of the chronograph pushers. We don’t have specific specs available for the vintage model, though it stands to reason the modern edition is a few millimeters larger in diameter and thickness than the historical one. This would be due to more modern sizing preferences and the necessary result of using an automatic movement rather than a thinner, vintage manual-wound mechanism that would have been standard in the 1940s. The modern edition clearly benefits from modern finishing practices as well, with each of its elements “popping” a bit more than those seen on the vintage ancestor, allowing the historical design to flourish within a contemporary format.
The Time-only Tuxedo also offers a virtually identical reissue of a vintage edition. From the sector dial, vintage printed numerals, and uniquely styled hands, Longines went full force in developing a faithful re-creation of the historic watch. The few differences of note include the modern watch’s use of heavy amounts of faux patina in an effort to recall the aging process of the historic watch; the original likely was much more white than yellow when it was new. It’s also somewhat unclear from the available imagery of the vintage model, but it may have had an additional ring on its outer edge that isn’t seen in the modern watch. Lastly, while we don’t have specs for this vintage model either, the original was likely under 34 mm in diameter and seems to have used a brushed steel case, while the contemporary one uses a much more contemporary sizing at 38.5 mm and opts for a polished finish. The vintage watch, of course, was designed as a field watch while the modern one is positioned as a more formal piece.
It is the rare vintage-inspired model released by Longines that doesn’t receive substantial praise from critics and enthusiasts, and these two Tuxedo watches are no different. Having only been unveiled less than a week ago, the watches are already being hailed as some of the best vintage reissues of 2020, with the creative director of Esquire, Nick Sullivan, going so far to dub them as lead contenders for “watch of the year.” At their core, the Tuxedo models take advantage of a time-tested strategy pioneered by Longines over the last decade: take an uncommon vintage watch, reproduce it slightly larger and with better finishing, and introduce it to the market. It’s simple, elegant, and above all, attention-grabbing.
Both watches are available for pre-order both through Longines and authorized dealers, with the Heritage Classic Tuxedo Chronograph retailing for $3,000 and the Heritage Classic Tuxedo Time-only marked at $2,000, and shipping expected to begin later this summer. To learn more about these Tuxedo watches and inquire for purchase, you can visit Longines’ website, here.