Borrowed Time: The Longines Conquest V.H.P.

Let’s get something out of the way. The watch I’m about to review is a quartz watch. Which, while a major part of the Swiss watch industry, is something we don’t typically cover at WatchTime. If you have a problem with that, go ahead and check out our review on the Longines Heritage Military Watch, which is a fantastic value for a monopusher chronograph. If you can appreciate the difference between quartz and mechanical timepieces and the place they occupy in horology, then read on because the Longines Conquest V.H.P. is one of the most fascinating quartz introductions in years.

We wore the Longines Conquest V.H.P. for a little over five weeks.

2017’s V.H.P. (Very High Precision) announcement resurrected a long underappreciated aspect of Longines’s history. You can count on one hand how many brands have manufactured watches as long as Longines — they’ve been continuously active since 1832. The V.H.P. first entered the horological lexicon in 1984. That year, Longines introduced Caliber 276.2 that used thermocompensation to achieve a rate of plus or minus 10 seconds per year. 

Over the next decade plus, there were a few minor changes to the collection, namely the second oscillator was replaced by a thermistor module (Caliber 273.2), but the V.H.P. mainly stayed its course as a high-end quartz offering for the brand. During that decade, the Swiss watch industry was still recovering from a loss of identity brought on by the Quartz Crisis. This is the reason you saw brands like Rolex introducing the OysterQuartz — if you were a luxury watch brand and you didn’t have a high-quality take on a quartz model there was a legitimate fear that you were going to miss out on not only the dominant trend at the time but also what looked like “the future” of the watch industry. In response to those fears, Nicolas Hayek transitioned the struggling ASUAG and SSIH into the Swatch Group and the age of conglomerates in the watch industry was born.

In 1996, we saw the last iteration of the Conquest V.H.P. Perpetual Calendar with a new ETA-developed movement with a digital calibration terminal that continued using thermocompensation and introduced a perpetual calendar date and a 3V lithium battery that was supposed to last for a decade. Which it technically did — the Conquest V.H.P. Perpetual Calendar was officially discontinued around 2006.

Close-up on the upper portion of the dial.

After that lineup completed its run, the V.H.P. lay dormant in the eyes of many watch enthusiasts. Occasionally you would see one pop up for sale on HAQ (High Accuracy Quartz) forums and it would quickly change hands as one of the progenitors of HAQ fascination. In the two decades that passed between the 1996 model and the latest V.H.P. that was introduced at Baselworld 2017, we’ve seen this small segment burst in demand with a few brands throwing their hat into the ring to corral that interest into a single following. During that time, the most successful came from Japan. The Grand Seiko 9F caliber might be the most well known, while Citizen-owned Bulova has the UHF (previously known as the Precisionist) line that is a fan favorite thanks to its variety of styles, general affordability, and accuracy. Swiss brands that have introduced hyper-accurate quartz models include Breitling with the Superquartz line and Omega with the Spacemaster watches. The issue with those is that they don’t approach the same accuracy as the V.H.P. at five seconds per year and often utilize an analog-digital display that might take some getting use to for traditional watch lovers. It’s actually Citizen who is the only other watch brand to reach the same level of accuracy as Longines does with the V.H.P. Colloquially known as “the Citizen Chronomaster,” the watch was a domestic-only model until very recently and held the record for most accurate quartz watch when it was introduced in 2011. This year, Citizen returned with the Caliber 0100 that is accurate within a single second per year.

While the Citizen Chronomaster has long been the go-to option for fans of high-accuracy watches with internal regulators, the fact that it was only available in Japan made it somewhat of a myth among American and European enthusiasts. The Longines Conquest V.H.P.’s victory is twofold: it has made watches that are accurate between five seconds per year more accessible both price wise and through production capacity.

The movement inside the Conquest V.H.P. — dubbed Caliber L288.2 in its three-hand-with-calendar version and L289.2 in the version with chronograph functions — is not only notable for its high degree of precision but also for its use of a GPD (gear position detection) system that quickly resets the watch’s hands after an impact or exposure to a magnetic field. Longines has also equipped the movement with an exceptionally long battery life of nearly five years and, like its 1990s predecessor, a built-in perpetual calendar.

The closed caseback features the Longines winged hourglass logo.

The time-and-date only models of the Longines Conquest V.H.P. are available in 41 mm and 43 mm diameter stainless steel cases; the chronograph models are in 41-mm- and 43-mm-diameter stainless steel cases; the chronograph models are in 42-mm- and 44-mm stainless steel cases. Black, white, blue, or carbon dials are available for all models, with two applied Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock (the chronograph model has only the “12,” with the “6” replaced by a subdial) and nine applied bar indexes, treated with Super-LumiNova, for the remaining hours. All the dials are graced with a red “V.H.P.” inscription, either directly above or directly below the center; the cases are water-resistant to 50 meters.

The chronograph dial has a tri-compax layout with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock, and a 60-second counter in the center. Along with the GDP, each model incorporates an “intelligent” crown to set and change the time and date, and an E.O.L. (end-of-life) indicator to signal when the battery is close to dying. This means that when the energy in the battery nears its end, the seconds hand warns the owner by jumping in five-second rather than one-second intervals.

It’s almost surprising to see such a wide variety of colors and sizes released with the start of a new collection. Longines former Vice President Juan-Carlos Capelli says this was intentional as was the choice to position the V.H.P. inside the Conquest line to reach a younger, more athletic generation.

The contrast between the all-white dial, the peppermint-red minutes track, and the applied bar hour indices is quite attractive.

“You have different sizes, different dials, and colors, and your watch can fit a large part of the population,” he says. “At Longines, we like to say: ‘We have a watch for every wrist.’ And the Conquest V.H.P. collection was designed with that in mind. This movement is a nice addition to the rest of the collection.”

The watch I wore for a little over a month was a time-and-date only version with a white dial. It had a peppermint red minute track that dotted between the applied lume hour indexes. The dial is fairly spartan otherwise. There’s a subtle stamped snailed pattern that looks nice enough under a loupe. The seconds hand has a red tip, I assume to match the seconds track. One thing that did save me a fair bit of consternation was the fact that the seconds hand matched up precisely to each marker on the seconds track as it ticked away. For those that spend hours looking at their watch, and might not be used to the jumping second hand of a quartz movement, there’s nothing more frustrating than a seconds hand that skips just slightly over its projected landing spot.

The date at 3 o’lock features a perpetual calendar.

Usually, if given the choice, I opt for a smaller model given my elfin wrist. This time around, I went all in with the 43 mm version to give the sports model a real test throughout the five weeks I wore it. Once receiving the watch, I was surprised how compact it felt against my skin. The lugs and bracelet had a seamless connection and while the stainless-steel link bracelet was fairly unexceptional, it was a breeze to take on-and-off thanks to the push-piece opening mechanism.

The most remarkable part of this watch — other than its accuracy, of course — is the gear disposition system. If you pull the crown out of the watch and wait for about one minute, the hour, minute, and second hand will snap to 12 o’clock. Once you push the crown back in, the hands spin around to the exact time it should be without a second lost. For example, if you pull the crown out and wait till the hands slide to the 12 o’clock marker at, say, 10:10:00; then wait for 90 seconds and push the crown in, the hands will spin around and automatically adjust to 10:11:30 in a dizzying display of motion. It’s a great party trick and I had quite a few of my horologically-inclined friends in shock when I first showed it to them.

The simple-to-operate crown controls the setting of the perpetual calendar in date as well as the GPD.

Thanks to the smart crown system, the hours and minutes actually adjust in one-hour leaps with a sweep of the crown. Longines figures that given the watch’s hyper-accuracy, the only reason to change the time would be for traveling between time zones or adjusting for daylight savings time. However, in case you do need to change the minutes for a photo opportunity or for any other reason, you can adjust the crown slightly so that the minutes and hour hand will creep forward like a traditional watch.

When I asked Juan-Carlos Capelli if this was Longines’ answer to a smartwatch he pretty emphatically said it was not. “We are doing watches and not electronic goods, we try to do the best of what we know how to do as watchmakers … we had to make a real Swiss product,” he says. “With Longines, the movement is always 100-percent Swiss. We don’t want to add something from outside that world so we decided to make a modern watch without any constraints.”

Personally, I believe him. If you look around at the watch industry today, there are so many brands that are jumping on the smart watch bandwagon and chasing the dollar without focusing on what they have been doing — in some cases — for hundreds of years. The Longines V.H.P. fits firmly into both Longines’s heritage and the brand’s modern approach to watchmaking. It looks good, is comfortable to wear, and is, quite possibly, the most accurate Swiss made watch ever. Even if you’ve never owned a quartz watch in your life, the V.H.P. deserves attention for its worthy pursuit of hyper-accuracy.

The three-hand Longines Conquest V.H.P. is priced at $1,000.


No Responses to “Borrowed Time: The Longines Conquest V.H.P.”

Show all responses
  1. Graham (again)

    I have now had mine for around 19 months and it is keeping PERFECT time (i.e. 0 seconds difference from the world clock). That’s pretty darn accurate!!!!

  2. I have been a fan of HAQ watches and own one each of the previous models.

    I am a long time fan of HAQ watches and and own and run one each of the previous versions. Of my two examples the original has held rate best and is about 5 sec per year. I bought the GMT version for its two time zone capability and flash setting. Flash setting is very hard to do with the two phones I tried but you do not have do it often. When I got my GMT it was about 2 seconds off. The watches are set to Swiss time when they leave the factory and releasing the crown starts the hands as noted. I suspect my watch has been running for some time. The point of all of this is that when I flash set it the watch went to exact time. The second is closer than 1/10 second to internet time. The flash setting nails the time. The other benefit of the GMT as a travel watch is that the lume on the hands is very strong. This is a watch you can read in the dark. About ten seconds in front of a bright light is enough to be able to read the time any time I have awoken.

  3. James Lane

    Well written article. One of the few about the VHP and smart crown technology. Didn’t go into a great deal of detail, i.e., the sleep mode, battery saving feature of the watch. I am a collector and have never been squeamish about quartz vs. automatic movements. I like them both. Longines , in my opinion has one of the best quartz/mechanical movements and maintains the classic aesthetics of a Swiss Made Watch. The price is also very affordable. You could pay much more for less quality.

  4. Thanks for the great article, Logan.

    I have owned the White GMT 41mm (I have small wrists) model for around 4 months.

    1.Accuracy is phenomenal (no change comparing it’s time to the world clock after setting it using the flash setting)

    2. Bracelet is fine for me, as long as a competent jeweller fits it correctly. I was lucky, as Longines only provides full and half links, no microadjustment on the clasp-which is pretty poor, as this needs only a slight change in the design. The butterfly clasp is horrid, but I can live with it. These would be by far the weakest (and easiest thing to fix!) parts of the watch

    3. Seconds hand aligns with the seconds markers exactly, except when it is between the 40-55 second marks where it is slightly off, which seems a bit odd, but not a game-changer.

    4. WR is not an issue ( soooo many people have commented to the contrary) THIS IS NOT, AND HAS NEVER BEEN, DESIGNED AS A DIVE WATCH. Get over it!

    5. Perpetual calendar is absolutely awesome. The GMT model also takes into account ‘daylight saving’ if it applies to whichever country you are in (that’s pretty darn smart!)

    6. Battery life at around 5 years is acceptable (most quartz watches have batteries which last 1-2 years, which is pathetic), however given that the old watch which this one replaces had a 10 year lithium, it seems odd that Longines did not put one of these in. Maybe due to the case size/thickness?

    7.The Grand Seiko’s which get mentioned frequently are WAAAAAY more expensive than the Longines, great watches so not an option for me. Ditto some of the other HAQ’s out there, some look great but are HUGE (44-45mm)

    Well, that’s my 2 cents worth.

    Cheers everyone!

  5. Dave Moulds

    With regards to daylight savings time was surprised to see the watch does it automatically! Not sure how it accomplishes this but will not complain. A really great watch.

  6. Phenomenal article. Well written and very informative. Thank you so much. I think this will be the next watch i buy.

  7. J. Braff

    Very timely article. I bought this very watch yesterday, black dial 41mm Conquest GMT. Amazing & ironic that for once, the Swiss beat the Japanese at quartz accuracy AND at a much longer wet price. Ok, the Conquest does not have nearly the superb finishing of Grand Seiko quartz cases but Longines regulated perpetual quartz GMT is 1/3 or less the cost. Longines has done a great, reasonable & accurate travel watch. Flash GMT is icing on the cake.

    My only gripe… why only 50m water resistance? Had they done this w/ 100 or 200m & 60 minutes uni-bezel, you’d have a great sports & dive watch, too.

  8. I bought exact same watch as you reviewed, but the seconds hand is not landing as precisely as I expect and as you described. Since it’s supposed to be super precise with proper Swiss manufacturing traditions – would you recommend that I raise this issue with the seller?

  9. Michael Weir

    Hi watch people, I live in Qld and I am about to go pick up my New Longines conquest VHP 42mm chronograph have been waiting a little while to get from Switzerland, very excited, I have owned a few Longines in my life, but this one looks superb, I am an older person,and having to alter the date and time is s little hard with arthritis, so this VHP will be great, they have always been a classy looking watch. But this looks wonderful, thank you. Mike.

  10. Arthur Selbach

    Grand Seiko SBGT241 Is $1500 versus $1000 for the longines that in mind is the vhp A good buy

    • I would say yes. The Seiko is the winner qua finishing (of course) but the Longines has a way more innovative movement. If you regularly travel between time zones, then the choice becomes even easier.

    • Mark Nagy

      I’ve only seen the SBGT241 for around $3000. Not sure your quoted price of $1500 for that Grand Seiko is accurate.

  11. Do you find the bracelet on the Conquest V.H.P Quartz to be uncomfortable and of poor design(hard to put on and take off)? Do you feel the back casing on the watch, which another reviewer of this watch, said that he felt discomfort, since it was not finished (in his opinion, in an exceptionally high degree of finish). I sincerely appreciate your feedback. I really want to own one of these masterpieces. Thanks, Stu in NJ

  12. Great Article

    Dear Mr. Baker, I sent an email your way at what I believed is your email address: I don’t know if you received it. I truly want to purchases the Conquest V.H.P Quartz 41mm blue face. However, I read another review in which the author showed a picture of his wrist and the indentations that the bracelet made on this wrist and how the design was less than acceptable to him. He also commented that the back of the watch was not finished in a manner in which you did not feel discomfort from as well. Did you find this to be the case, when you wore the watch for one month? I really want to purchase this watch, but do not want to introduce myself to issues I have read about the watch bracelet and the back casing of the watch, beforehand. Many Thanks, Stu in New Jersey.

    • I saw that same article. The idiot who did that one claims he had the bracelet fitted by a ‘jeweller’, obviously an incompetent one. It was odvious that it was WAY TOO TIGHT. I am surprised that his hand didn’t drop off due to loss of blood circulation. I have the VHP GMT White 41mm and it has been fitted correctly. No problems, except it can get a tad tighter after you have had a hot shower (no surprises there) but nothing to worry about.

  13. I am in the exact target market for this — except for the sizing. If there were a 38 mm (maybe even a 39) I would buy it immediately. Size 41 is out of the question, unfortunately. The Seiko and Citizen models come in reasonable sizes, but are too dressy for me. Oh well.

    • Richard Ferriss

      It is now (6/11/19) available in 36mm size. I bought it and really like it. L33164766.

  14. Gerald Davison

    Am not sure about 41mm or 43mm size. I have worn watches of varying sizes, including 43 and 44 mm. Any advice?

  15. Ronald Kyle

    I bought the 41mm three hand white VHP some months ago, and am very impressed with it, although not as well finished as my Grand Seiko, considering the price difference, its very good, before I bought the VHP I did check that the second hand and marks lined up, and I love the way the date changes pretty much bang on midnight.

  16. Billy

    Great article, well done!! I bought a Longines Conquest VHP on November 28, 2017 for $850 at an upscale department store in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. I bought the white dial, 41mm 3 handed model. I immediately set the correct time. As of today, June 3, 2018, it has gained just 1,5 seconds. I also own two mechanical Grand Seiko’s and a quartz Grand Seiko with the 9F62 movement. My VHP does not have the superb finish that the quartz Grand Seiko has, but for the price I paid for my new VHP, it is an attractive and extremely accurate sports wristwatch. You won’t be disappointed if you pick up one of these fine timepieces.
    Well done Longines and Watchtime!!!

  17. Billy

    Great article; well done! I bought a Longines Conquest VHP on November 28th, 2017. As of today, June 2nd 2018, it has gained 1.5 seconds. I own the white version, 41mm, 3 hand model. I also own 2 mechanical Grand Seiko’s and a quartz Grand Seiko with the 9F62 movement. My VHP does not have the finish that the quartz Grand Seiko has, but for the $850 I paid for it new, it is a very good watch. You won’t regret buying one should you decide to do so. Well done Longines and Watchtime.

  18. Hormazdiyaar Vakil

    Very interesting and informative. But I am still a fan of only mechanical watches.

  19. David

    A watchmaking marvel that ranks very high on my watch list. It’s a engineering marvel with amazing features coming from a great brand albeit in a fabulous quartz movement. I’ve had my eyes on this since it’s introduction. You covered this watch perfectly and I appreciate you wearing and writing about it. Job well done. I still love my sweeping seconds hands and movements to gaze at but I would and actually want to buy this watch. It’s got everything a watch should have plus features unlike no other. I could wear this daily and never have to worry about anything while at the cancer centers radiation oncology department with higher than normal levels of magnetic fields. This is a lot of watch for the money. Nicely done longines and watchtime.

    • Do you find the bracelet on the Conquest V.H.P Quartz to be uncomfortable and of poor design(hard to put on and take off)? Do you feel the back casing on the watch, which another reviewer of this watch, said that he felt discomfort, since it was not finished (in his opinion, in an exceptionally high degree of finish). I sincerely appreciate your feedback. I really want to own one of these masterpieces. Thanks, Stu in NJ

      • Joshua Chiok

        In comparison to my Ball watch’s CM1020C finishes, it is a grade or two on the rough side (not as well finished). But then I paid only Php 42,240 or $780 at today exchange rate (USDPHP:54) and given its superb accuracy of plus/minus 5 sec a year (plus long battery life of 5 years) , it is an acceptable trade off and remains a money well spent proposition in my opinion. P.s. (I’ve had it with mechanical watches in general as my ball watches requires $370 worth of servicing or its overhauling in its 8th year).

  20. Joe Mann-Stadt

    Please note that the Grand Seiko SBGT241 (quartz) is rated at +/- 5 seconds per year. Though not Swiss, from a horilogical standpoint it is more than competitive with any of the HAQs you mention.

Leave a Reply