FEATURE

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Longines Heritage 1945


To avoid the hyperbole commonly afforded to Longines’s Heritage Collection, I’ll put it simply: it is expansive, and in the process of developing it the brand has paced the industry in re-creating its best vintage designs using modern techniques and manufacturing. The newest addition to this collection is the Longines Heritage 1945, a watch seemingly unknown during its era, but one that has nonetheless struck a positive chord with modern consumers.

Longines Vintage 1945 watch
First popping up onto Instagram feeds via the live coverage of Baselworld 2017, the Heritage 1945 is based upon a rather rare piece owned by a private collector and loaned to the Longines Museum in the brand’s longtime hometown of Saint-Imier, Switzerland for verification of its authenticity. That nearly forgotten piece served as the template for Longines’s latest vintage-look modern watch.

The historical watch that inspired the Heritage 1945 was dated from, as you probably guessed, 1945. It has a flat bezel, rounded copper-colored dial, blue hands and a small seconds subdial, and is not too far off from vintage Longines “Calatrava” designs popular in the brand’s long history of watchmaking, especially during the 1940s. And now it has been remade as a unique reissue appealing to both vintage collectors and modern aficionados, alike, consistently coming in and out of stock since its release as a fan favorite.

Longines Heritage 1945 - flat

The vintage-influenced Heritage 1945 is presented in steel, in a modern 40-mm sizing. With a tight and slightly rounded crown, long curved lugs, and a flat bezel, the piece has an obvious mid-1940s to early-‘50s styling. I should note that the flat bezel was not the most common design trait during this aforementioned era, but it became even less common outside of it. On the watch’s dial is simplicity leading to elegance, as executed on a textured and slightly curved copper background. With a plain black minute ring on its outer edges, black printed Arabic numerals and applied silver dots alternating for the hour markers, and a quiet Longines logo and shrunken seconds subdial adorning the top and bottoms of the face, respectively, the dial is a classical design evoking vintage origins. Indicating the time are two leaf-style hands for hour and minutes, which together are powered by the Longines Caliber L609 based upon the ETA 2895-2; the movement is automatic and hosts a 42-hour power reserve. As previously mentioned, the watch has been relisted and sold out numerous times since its release, with the brand marketing it at $1,800.

Longines Heritage 1945 - front
Comparing the modern and vintage pieces, it seems the brand has upped the size slightly from 37 to 40-mm, but outside of this change has kept most other elements the same, or only subtly updated. These minute differences are seen in the slightly rounder and more prominent crown, the higher-quality polishing that accompanies the lack of 70 years of wear, and the additional curved “Automatic” script underneath the subdial, which raises it toward the center. Additionally, the dial is more brushed copper in color than the rosy patina seen on the vintage edition, and the modern automatic movement is a change from the manually-wound Caliber 12.68Z used seven decades ago.

Longines Heritage Vintage 1945 - back

It seems only appropriate to label these differences as “updates” because of the overwhelming similarities between the watches that is common among almost all of Longines’s reissues. The case — besides its slight difference in size — is in the same style, using a flat bezel and curved dial, as a whole still browned and accented with the same details, while the hands are still leaf-like and blue. The 1945 original could have very well been little more than the culmination of excess wartime parts brought together by the brand — as was the case with a number of postwar watches like those converted from the famously named “Dirty Dozen” watches — but this reissue, and its faithfulness to such an interesting design, would have you thinking the vintage model was one of the most timeless watches of its era.

Longines Heritage 1945 - wrist
To Longines’s credit, the company has re-issued almost all of the major watches from the past 100 years or so within the extensive Heritage collection, arguably offering the largest and most such “archival” collection on the market today. More recently, after years of re-issuing many of its most famed pieces, Longines has shown a greater interest in re-interpreting some of its historical watches into new formats like the downsized and PVD-treated Legend Divers, and in re-issuing lesser known (possibly even prototype) watches such as the Avigation BigEye. The Heritage 1945 is firmly in this latter category, and continues the success of the Longines Heritage collection.

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Nezumi Corbeau to its historical influences, 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.

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