Longines in no newcomer to the world of Swiss watchmaking. Indeed, the Saint-Imier, Switzerland based brand is celebrating its 190th year. As is often the case, with age comes wisdom, grace and an eye to the past. The past few years have seen Longines focusing more and more on vintage influence, oftentimes returning to their own archives for inspiration and reference.
With the introduction of the Record Heritage, Longines has added a new complication to its COSC-certified series of classic, dressy timepieces: an automatic chronograph. With a 40mm stainless steel case and exhibition caseback, the Record Heritage sits squarely within the dimensions of a modern watch. At 13.8mm thick with elegantly tapered lugs, it is likely to create a strong yet refined presence on the wrist. But while its classic yet modern proportions are likely to be a crowdpleaser, the real showstopper of the watch is undoubtedly the dial.
The balanced two-registered matte black dial is stylishly punctuated with sharp gold accents in the form of the delicate applied Arabic numerals and slim pointed indexes. These gilded accents provide a stark contrast to the cold steel of the case, creating an instant reference to the vintage gilt dials of the mid-20th century. The date-free dial is balanced with two slightly recessed sub-registers that are delicately enhanced by polished golden accents — like mini rehauts framing the engraved concentric circles within. Set along the outside of the dial, present yet uncluttered, is the matching printed gold tachometric scale.
Despite the objectively attractive dial, the beauty of the Record Heritage appears to not merely be skin deep. As with all of the pieces in Longines’s Record collection, the Record Heritage is also COSC certified, featuring a silicon hairspring and traditionally decorated movement. All of the lovely and expected trappings are present, with perlage and sunray engraving throughout the baseplate and Côtes de Genève along the engraved rotor.
The last few years of Longines’s releases have been really excited to watch. Though there is a very fine line between vintage reference and simply retreading past designs, there is a real sense that Longines has a clear vision for who and what it wants to be now — a company with a deep love for its stylistic roots that wants to bring that sense of classic proportion and balance to modern watch buyers. The Record Heritage is no exception. Its balanced, sophisticated dial takes everything that was strong and pure from the aesthetics of mid-20th-century chronographs (the golden age of chronograph design) and leaves other details that would likely appear cumbersome. For example, the 10, 2, 4 and 8 numerals are mercifully unbifercated by the sub-registers, allowing for clear legibility.
This design direction is not necessarily new for Longines, having been a continuous theme over the past few years. It is welcomed nevertheless. Anyone who enjoyed the styling or presence of the Heritage Classic Chronograph from a couple of years back will likely find themselves similarly charmed by the understated elegance of the Record Heritage. While eagle-eyed vintage enthusiasts may spot certain small details that are borrowed from vintage designs, their incorporation here produces an air of the timeless and refined. The result is a watch that feels traditional yet relevant, luxurious yet approachable. Now the only question is, when will they release one in 18K gold?
Movement: COSC-certified self-winding caliber L895.4; 59-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, tachometric scale
Case: 40mm; stainless steel; water-resistant to 30m
Dial: Black, matte; applied gilt Arabic numerals and indexes
Strap: Brown leather with pin buckle, or stainless steel bracelet with triple safety folding clasp