The Longines Spirit Takes On TitaniumBy Suan Futt Yeo
Staying long in any business is a tricky thing. A long history does not mean that a company does a better job than a new entrant, nor that it will outlast upstarts just earning their spurs in the arena. Having a longer history does mean that it has won a longer list of battles, and acquired a larger body of expertise and experience. Nevertheless, whether it is able to make its heritage appealing to new generations of consumers, or leverage its accumulated know-how effectively and with relevance, is another question.
In this respect, it’s no overstatement to say that Longines has done well, creating a very broad spread of collections that pretty much covers the wristwatch needs of the premium consumer, offering high quality and value for money at everyday (as opposed to stratospheric) prices.
In particular, we are partial to the heritage- and military-inspired timepieces that Longines has been releasing in recent years. It doesn’t all boil down to nostalgia, though it’s safe to say that any watch enthusiast who finds appeal in something as anachronistic as a mechanical watch cannot be all-dead to the charms of yesteryear. Rather, heritage/military pieces conceived in the earlier part of the 20th century were informed by the exacting requirements of great undertakings, ranging across exploration, aviation and war. A timepiece for such purpose is built tough to be depended upon, precise, and easy to read: performance and reliability hinged between life and death.
Courtesy of its long history, Longines can call upon its own archives of watches it made during this foundational period out of which the modern world we know today was largely constructed. The result include timepieces from its Spirit line of field watches and chronographs. Longines is now adding to the collection a quartet of references, in two sizes and two strap/bracelet options, and a new case material.
Grade 5 titanium is used for the case material of these new Spirit references: lighter and stronger than steel, non-reactive to skin, and of a darker, matte tone take is most appropriate for watch meant for the outdoors. Two sizes are offered: in 40mm, and 42mm.
The domed sapphire crystal is treated with multiple layers of anti-reflective coating on both sides, all the better to cut glare that is already minimised by the matte sandblasted anthracite dial, delineated by a black flange in satin finish. This forms an attractive backdrop for the gold-plated Arabic numeral hours and hands which a filled with a generous helping of Super-LumiNova. Unlike the earlier Spirit models, there’s no date so less fiddling with unnecessary complications, time-only, thumbs up.
Beating within, is the self-winding cal. L888.4. Nothing ground-shaking, but it excels where it counts. For starters, a COSC-certified chronometer, as it proudly says on the dial, below a bank of five stars. The balance spring is made of silicon — light, nonmagnetic, hard-wearing, and impervious to thermal expansion, it contributes to the watch’s reliability, precision and resistance to magnetic fields in no small measure. It’s also why Longines is able to offer a five-year warranty with the watch. In addition, we also note that the 72-hour power reserve is generous enough.
Tying it all together is a choice of bracelet or strap. The former is a titanium bracelet with satin and polished surfaces; the latter is a custom developed NATO-type nylon strap that was uses a special weaving technique to match the anthracite and black colourway of the dial. Both bracelet and strap feature a quick-change system exclusive to Longines.
Movement: Self-winding cal. L888.4 (A31.L11), COSC-certified chronometer, 25’200 vph, silicon balance spring, power reserve of 72 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds
Case: 40 mm (L3.810.1.53.2/6) or 42 mm (L3.8126.96.36.199/6), titanium, domed sapphire glass, screw-down crown, water resistant to 10 bar
Dial: Anthracite sandblasted dial, applied Arabic numerals, Super-LumiNova
Strap: Titanium bracelet with triple safety folding clasp, push-piece opening mechanism, and interchangeable system; anthracite woven nylon strap, titanium buckle, with interchangeable system
Price: USD 3,880 (strap, 40mm) to USD 4,500 (bracelet, 42mm)