Longines Heritage Military 1938By Ken Kessler
Nobody does reissues like Longines with its ongoing Heritage pieces, not even sister brand Hamilton (though the latter comes close). Civilian models, the Greenlander, the W.W.W., the Legend Diver, the Skin Diver, the Lindberghs and Weemses, too many military models to list … but I am not complaining because the originals are hard to find in good nick, while the prices of many vintage Longines pieces are climbing with a near-vertical trajectory. Long overdue, Longines is becoming a seriously collectable marque, so look at the Heritage family as a public service.
With a name representing both the year of original manufacture and the number of this limited edition’s production run, the Heritage Military 1938 will find an instant following because it is, for all intents and purposes, a pre-cursor to the “Dirty Dozen” W.W.W. – only much bigger. As Dirty Dozen timepieces, all time-only and with small seconds, are superhot at the moment, it’s logical that the timepieces which heralded these classics are being appreciated anew. And this one, to use the well-worn cliché, ticks all the boxes, not least being the decidedly contemporary size.
The most distinguishing feature is its diameter – atypical for the era, prescient of this one and reminiscent of the equally outsized IWC Portugieser, born a year later. The Heritage Military 1938 measures 43mm across, a reassuring 6mm-7mm larger than a typical W.W.W., the case size necessitated by the use of the L507.2 movement. Based on the ETA 6498/2 hand-wound calibre, a.k.a. the Unitas, it once powered various Panerais, Omegas, Tissots, Glycines, Jean Richard Bressels and too many other hefty timepieces to list.
And, wow, does it look the part! Matte black dial with small seconds at 6 o’clock, plain Arabic numerals, baton hands, railway track chapter ring, creamy “aged” lume, discreet “Longines” below the “12” in a tiny, tasteful font, “squashed onion” winding crown, domed crystal – it’s as instantly arresting as every one of its Heritage predecessors. A touch of modernity involves the straps, of which there are two, but this is fine as the military straps of 80-plus years ago were rather prosaic.
Longines supplies the Heritage Military 1938 with a tool to enable the user to swap between an anthracite leather strap, with the currently-fashionable single stitches near the lugs, and a cognac over-under strap, which I refuse to call “NATO-style” as Longines does, because it ain’t. Reality check: NATO didn’t exist in 1938, and NATO straps are only the horrid 18mm or 20mm grey nylon affairs. So Longines, please, don’t throw in an anachronism – Lord knows you get all of the other historical details right.
Manually wound Calibre L507.2 with 53-hour power reserve
43mm stainless steel
Anthracite and cognac over-under straps with changing tool