Introducing Longines Novelties 2021By Israel Ortega
For watch enthusiasts, the arrival of spring is accentuated by an avalanche of horological releases that shape potential trends for the season.
It is always nice to know of the novelties from brands like Longines, which are well recognized for their watches both from a historical perspective as well as their consistent mechanical strength.
Let me introduce you to some of the new timepieces from Longines for 2021.
The legend of the original Silver Arrow began in 1955 when Longines held an internal competition to find the name for a new watch with an avant-garde design. The nickname “Silver Arrow”, a reference to the famous German cars that dominated the racing circuits of the first half of the 20th century, was chosen. The following year, the definitive watch would go on the market, managing to merge the automotive and aeronautical worlds that gave a tremendous technological boost to humanity in those times.
The new Silver Arrow is presented in a 38.5mm steel case that boasts a minimalist yet readable, classic silver dial. The dial has slotted, square hour markers —just like the original version— and sword-shaped hands, and both elements are glazed with Super-LumiNova. The absence of a date window and “automatic” signature contributes to its discreet character while maintaining the original watch’s spirit.
The watch is powered by the L888.5 automatic mechanical movement with a silicium spring, beating at an unusual 25,200 bph (3.5Hz).
It can’t be easy to develop watches that are consistently so highly regarded by collectors. Nevertheless, Longines has been able to find an enviable number of “sweet spots” to take advantage of its historical heritage.
The elegant and refined Silver Arrow is a fascinating example of this idea. I find it commendable that a watch like this dares to show a new brand episode without using simple tricks. The watch could have been easily sized at 40mm, but leaving it at 38.5 was a perfect decision, as was minimizing the texts on the silvery dial.
Avoiding the use of the word “automatic” on the dial —the other time they did this was with the Heritage Military watch, ref. L2.822.214.171.124— is further proof that Longines is confident of its identity and what it wants to represent through its watches. The watch’s flair truly conveys that idea of optimistic modernity and technical fascination with futuristic overtones that marked the post-war era.
After a few years of well-earned success and recognition, the Avigation BigEye has undergone an aesthetic modernization that found a way to elevate its watchmaking attributes.
This new interpretation of the BigEye chronograph is presented in titanium with a petrol blue dial, a cool homage to the great moments of aviation and its pioneers, whom Longines accompanied on many occasions.
As you well know, this pilot’s chronograph with a 1930s design is characterized by the striking size of its 30-minute counter, set at 3 o’clock and larger in diameter than the other accompanying subsidiary registers.
The new Avigation BigEye is also characterized by the very legible grainy surfaced dial, complemented by the trio of shaded sub-dials, black hands with a sandblasted finish and beige, luminescent Arabic numerals.
A glass-box-shaped sapphire crystal with a multi-layer anti-reflective finish on both sides and a screwed and engraved caseback also attest to the modern feel of this watch.
The Avigation BigEye deserves all kinds of praise and applause. As the happy keeper of an award-winning BigEye — winner of the 2017 GPHG “revival” prize — I’m glad to see the latest iteration of the BigEye this year.
A pilot’s watch with a non-black dial can cause a frown or two —not my cup of tea—but it is well understood as a stylised version. However, that decision is balanced by the use of titanium for the case. The new “blue-eyed” BigEye is remarkable. It only accompanies the success of its award-winning black-dial cousin very well but is also an interesting contrast to the refined and modern styling of the new Spirit chronographs, inspired by the great aerial adventurers of yore!
Longines has added some new color variations to this line that makes fair use of pink and yellow PVD finishes. Since its renewal in 2018, the HydroConquest series has provided a sporty and functional alternative to all underwater exploration lovers. In its blue, gray, black, and green versions, each watch affirms a technical design finished off by its bezels with ceramic inserts in the same color as the dial.
HydroConquest watches are proficient diving tools, thanks to their water resistance up to 300 meters, unidirectional bezel, screw-down crown and caseback, and a double security folding clasp with extension.
The green, black, and blue variants are now available in two-color steel and yellow PVD, while the gray, black, and blue versions are available in steel and rose PVD versions. These pieces are also available with a black, blue, or green rubber strap. With gray, blue, or black dial with a sunburst-like texture, or a matte green dial, each two-tone HydroConquest model is equipped with an exclusive-to-Longines L888.5 automatic movement that features a silicon coil.
The HydroConquest is like a submarine: stealthy and quiet but packed with power and technique. It is quite simply one of the most valuable Swiss divers’ watches in the market, combining the brand’s savoir-faire with its honest and comprehensive mechanical proposition.
With the new two-tone proposals, HydroConquest plays a bit with the idea of the new blue BigEye — it features its usual horological attributes but with enhanced luxurious tones and textures, without detracting from its value and price offer.
I think these new dual-toned divers will further consolidate the watch’s position as one of the best “first purchase” submarine watches.
The Longines Legend Diver is an undisputed ambassador for the brand’s Heritage series and it is now available in new dial color versions. In blue or brown, these creations bring a new look to one of the first diver’s watches designed by the Saint-Imier firm.
The history of the Legend Diver began in 1937 when water resistance became a high-quality feature. Longines developed a watch case with waterproof pushers for the remarkable caliber 13ZN, taking care to patent this creation.
Over time, the brand made a series of developments that led to the launch of its first civilian diver’s watch in 1958 and several other timepieces of this type during the 1960s.
This series of milestones paved the way for the renewed Legend Diver watch, released in 2007.
These updated versions retain the spirit of the original watch. The new 42mm watches have a few updated technical features, such as a case-shaped sapphire crystal, two screw-down crowns, and a screw-down caseback. They are water-resistant up to 300 meters and feature an automatic movement with a silicium balance spring, manufactured exclusively for Longines.
Available in blue or brown, the dial features luminous hands, interspersed hour markers, and Arabic numerals enhanced with Super-LumiNova rectangles.
The Legend Diver is in another category because it is an instrument for deep waters and carries a vital record and watchmaking tradition. The range of varied colors enriches the collection. Here, some late-date antecedents attenuate the chromatic impact; the outstanding Legend Diver with a green dial in a bronze and titanium case being a great example.
Of course, the more traditional forms of a vintage-inspired watch make it well-suited to play with its elegant shapes and proportions. I dare say the blue reference would be a short-term favorite.
Silver Arrow L2.8126.96.36.199
Dial: Domed silver opaline dial; applied indexes with Super-LumiNova rectangle
Case: Stainless steel 38.5mm; screw-down caseback; 30-meter water resistance
Movement: Mechanical, self-winding; Cal. L888.5 (ETA A31.L11); hours, minutes and seconds; 25,200 bph, 72-hour power reserve
Strap: Brown calfskin leather with buckle
Avigation Big Eye L2.8188.8.131.52
Dial: Petrol blue, grained and shaded dial; super-lumiNova-coated Arabic numerals
Case: Titanium 41mm; screw-down caseback; 30-meter water resistance
Movement: Mechanical, self-winding; Cal. Longines L688 (ETA A08.L01); hours, minutes and seconds, 12-hour chronograph; 28,800 bph, 54-hour power reserve
Strap: Brown calfskin leather with titanium buckle
Hydroconquest L3.781.3.06.7/9, L3.7184.108.40.206/9, L3.7220.127.116.11/9, L3.718.104.22.168/9, L3.722.214.171.124/9, L3.7126.96.36.199/9
Case: Stainless steel with yellow or rose PVD, 41mm; unidirectional rotating bezel; screw-down caseback and crown; 300-meter water resistance
Movement: Mechanical, self-winding Cal. L888.5 (ETA A31.L11); hours, minutes and seconds; date; 25,200 bph, 72-hour power reserve
Straps and bracelets: Stainless steel and yellow or rose PVD; double security folding clasp and integrated diving extension. Green, blue, grey, black rubber strap; double security folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism
Legend Diver L3.7188.8.131.52 (blue), L3.7184.108.40.206 (brown)
Dial: Blue or brown, lacquered with graduated shading; indexes and numerals underscored with Super-LumiNova.
Case: Stainless steel 42mm; internal rotating diving bezel; screw-down caseback and crown; 300-meter water resistance.
Movement: Mechanical, self-winding; Cal. L888.5 (ETA A31.L11); hours, minutes and seconds; date; 25,200 bph, 64-hour power reserve
Strap: Blue or brown calfskin leather