Among the many watch-world milestones commemorated at Baselworld 2017 is the 90th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic non-stop transatlantic flight in the “Spirit of St. Louis” — a historical event timed by Longines. In celebration, the Swiss brand is offering a new version of its Lindbergh Hour Angle watch — a watch designed for Longines by Lindbergh himself — in a 90-piece limited edition.
Lindbergh’s 1927 flight from Roosevelt Airport in New York to Le Bourget airport near Paris was the first-ever non-stop transatlantic flight by a solo pilot; it was also a milestone for Longines, which timed the flight as official timekeeper for the World Air Sports Federation and added it to the list of aviation records. Shortly thereafter, Lindbergh worked with Longines to produce one of the brand’s most historically significant timepieces, the first so-called Hour Angle watch (below) in 1931; its groundbreaking, rotating-bezel design allowed pilots and navigators to calculate their longitude during long-distance flights, thus allowing them to home in on their geographic location quickly, efficiently, and accurately.
Longines re-introduced the Lindbergh Hour Angle to its Heritage collection several years ago (Click here for our “Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy” feature comparing the original and modern versions.) This year, it adds the Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch 90th Anniversary, the first Hour Angle watch with a titanium case. It measures a hefty 47.5 mm in diameter, the idea being that a larger size would enable a pilot wearing the watch to more easily read and operate it in the dark, or while subjected to cockpit vibrations that were common to aircraft of the early 20th century.
The rotating bezel, made of black PVD steel, allows the wearer to adjust for the daily variations in the equation of time, while a galvanic black disk in the center of dial rotates to synchronize the seconds with a radio time signal. The brushed silver dial displays the time on a railtrack minute circle with painted black Roman numerals, and features a 180° scale for calculating the longitude. The watch can thus be used to indicate the hour angle in degrees and in minutes of arc, as well displaying the current time in hours, minutes and seconds.
Longines has equipped the Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch 90th Anniversary with a modern, self-winding movement, Caliber L699. The large, steel crown allows for easy winding of this movement, even while wearing gloves, a feature important to the aviators of yore. Another such element is found in the vintage-style brown leather strap, which is equipped with an extension that allows the watch to be worn over an oversized aviator’s jacket. The watch, limited to 90 pieces — one for each year since the watch’s namesake made aviation and timekeeping history — carries a retail price of 5,000 Swiss francs (about $5,015).