“Cool” style these days is often working class, old school, tough as nails. For watchmakers, that’s the field watch; and brands like Timex, Citizen and Seiko have sorted through the archives to win the wrists of blue-collar craftsmen for the past few years or so. But the best one I’ve found so far comes from Longines, a luxury Swiss watchmaker, and it costs $1,700.
That’s a lot of scratch just to look cool. A Timex Weekender costs less than a decent bottle of bourbon and Seiko’s SNK series — an enthusiast’s darling powered by an in-house, mechanical, self-winding movement — comes in well under a Benjamin. And even if field watch desires aren’t aesthetically driven, who would risk beating the shit out of such a costly investment in the field?
That was the question I asked myself every day I strapped on the Longines Heritage Military COSD. I don’t have the cash to splurge on shiny collector’s pieces, but I am undeniably part of Longines’s target consumer group: I love getting my hands dirty. I’m ambitious, sure, but definitely working class. I look for classic design, quality and reliability in what I buy. Selvedge denim, plaid flannel, waxed canvas and beat-up leather boots are my daily uniform.
Material: stainless steel
Crystal: Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, with several layers of anti-reflective coating on the underside
Water Resistance: 3 bar
L619, Self winding mechanical movement, 42-hour power reserve
Painted Arabic numerals, with Super-LumiNova; blued steel hands, with Super-LumiNova
Green synthetic NATO
I also have a fascination with mechanical timepieces, especially those with a legacy. This is where the Longines Heritage Military COSD separates itself from the field. The Longines field watch draws its inspiration from a timepiece built for the British Special Forces — issued by their Company Ordnance Supply Depot (COSD) — in WWII. Much like its inspiration, the homage is accented by crisp Arabic numerals, a red 24-hour scale and that iconic British double-arrow. Then, there’s its Swiss movement. Dubbed the Longines L619.2 calibre, the COSD’s self-winding mechanism is based on the ETA 2892/A2 — a movement used by Omega in developing their co-axial 2500. While its automatic nature strays from the war machine’s hand-wound roots, this update and its date window make the COSD more appealing for daily use.
Even though it’s a soldier’s watch at heart, in the end this reboot occupies that rarified space where hipster meets Hodinkee. Military heritage is great, but the real advantage is a style that lends itself to a number of occasions for non-combatants. Swapped over to a leather band it’s easily ready for formal civilian duties. Sitting on its more casual olive-drab nato strap, the watch’s only obvious downside is that its 40mm stainless steel case is polished, rather than bead-blasted or brushed. Checking my southpaw on a sunny day, it shimmers with enough intensity to give away my location to any sniper in the area; it will also collect scratches faster than a blind lion tamer. But I think that’s the point.
This isn’t a disposable watch nor is it meant to stay shiny and new. It’s pricy; it’s vintage in style; it’s easy to scuff. Longines has made a high-end watch to entice a low-end audience, and that audience doesn’t mind dings and scuffs, as long as they’re part of their journey. That’s what cool is.