Last year, in a follow-up to the wide and favorable attention garnered by its Heritage 1945 piece from 2017, Longines released the newest member of its neo-vintage Heritage collection, the Heritage Military Watch. (The brand had previously released a model under the same name, a 1918-inspired field watch with a black dial option and 6 o’clock seconds subdial.) The newer watch is based upon a World War II model commissioned by the British Royal Air Force and produced by both Longines and Omega — with and without 60-minute outer bezels. Like other watches from this era, there are few remaining today, most of them severely beaten; those few that aren’t tend to be highly sought after among collectors.
The newest Heritage Military watch keeps much of the “bezel-less” style of the original, though in a clearly larger and modernized package. At 38.5 mm in diameter, the steel watch has a simple brushed case with a large prominent crown, solid caseback, and polished bezel. This straightforward case is secured via a double-stitch strap meant to channel a more utilitarian style of years past. The watch’s dial, which has been noted for its speckled, partially patinated look, has an outer railroad-track minute counter along its edges, vintage-look Arabic numerals to delineate the hours, and a historical Longines logo toward the 12 o’clock position. Indicating the hour and minute are two blued steel hands in a vintage-style spade configuration, with an additional, simple pointer hand for the seconds. Inside the Heritage Military is the automatic L619/888 (a Longines-modified ETA A31.L01), beating at 25,200 vph, equipped with a convenient hacking seconds mechanism, and storing a 64-hour power reserve. The watch is currently listed by Longines at $2,150.
Like many other watches featured in this series lately, I was able to go hands-on with the Heritage Military for a couple weeks. What I noticed right away in receiving the watch was how much larger it is in person than in pictures. This is a result of two things, the first being my own greater familiarity with smaller vintage models from the era that informs this watch’s style (which are typically around 32 mm); and the second being the flat and relatively unadorned dial, which give it a more expansive appearance. The large, attractive crown — which differs quite a bit from those seen on vintage editions — also gives the piece a wider and bolder appearance. Yet even with its larger look, the watch wasn’t overbearing by any means (it’s still only 38.5 mm, after all) and was comfortable on the wrist during prolonged wear.
The case as a whole is well-executed, with a classic utilitarian look further emphasized by its solid, brushed caseback, and thoughtfully contrasted to the aged look of the dial it protects. The dial, however, is hit or miss. As far as historical accuracy, it’s right on, albeit slightly larger to match the larger case, and it manages to very realistically ape the aging process that these surviving 75+-year old watches have gone through. However, the dial’s spotting, despite its appeal to many collectors, frequently didn’t hold up as an attribute for people not deeply interested in watches. A few of my family and friends remarked that they weren’t exactly sure why a brand would produce a “dirty dial.” Personally, I like the dial, though I will remark the hands looked somewhat flat (presumably to match the dial), a trait not uncommon in Longines watches, and not a favorite element of mine.
Overall the watch has some interesting features which could make it an ideal addition to many collections: it has an uncommon, vintage-style design, a unique dial, a very cool crown, and a reliable modern movement. Its only real downside is it the relatively steep $2,150 price tag, which in comparison to Longines’ other options in its Heritage line might give some potential consumers pause; for reference, the extremely popular Heritage 1945 frequently retails at around $1,500. With this said, the Longines Heritage Military is a historically accurate and historically inspired modern watch, and if I was seeking out a vintage look, via a partially patinated dial in a larger and more modern package, it would likely be high on my list.
For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we go hands-on with the Bulova Devil Diver and compare it to its historical predecessors, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.