Editor’s Note: Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) has moved online and Baselworld 2020 is canceled, but that hasn’t stopped watch brands large and small from debuting their new wares. Stay on top of this year’s best new watch releases here.
During the pioneering days of early private aviation, several famous flyers used Longines timekeeping instruments, including Howard Hughes, Amelia Earhart, and more. This was a time before digital instruments, before modern communications, and well before GPS, when daredevil pilots strapped into cramped, freezing cockpits with nothing more than a leather flight suit, a pair of goggles, and a good watch. And unlike today, timepieces were essential instruments for navigation.
Now, Longines is revisiting that heritage with several watches in its new Sprit collection, a line focused on marrying a classically inspired pilot’s watch aesthetic with modern technology. Most notable (and most complicated) is the 42mm new chronograph model, the L3.8220.127.116.11. Available with either matte black, grained silver or blue sunray dials, the chrono features a stainless steel case with the buyer’s choice of matching steel bracelet or a leather strap in either dark brown, light blue or blue. (If you’d prefer multiple straps, the watch is also available in a Prestige edition, which comes with interchangeable steel, leather and brown leather NATO strap options for an additional $500.)
The step case and dial, with its large Arabic numerals, sword hands and three-register layout, clearly take inspiration from vintage Longines models — though the addition of the date window at 4:30 throws a bit of a wrench as far as balance is concerned. A screw-down date wheel advancer at 10 o’clock, which serves the purported purpose of preventing the wearer from accidentally advancing the date, also seems like a strange and superfluous choice given the watch’s screw-down crown. Despite both both the date window placement and the extra “crown,” however, the Spirit chronograph remains balanced and handsome.
The watch is powered by the L688.4 movement, which is based on an ETA caliber (Longines and ETA are both part of the Swatch Group), and features a silicon hairspring, 60 hours of power reserve, and chronometer (COSC) certification. Given the ultra-accurate, column wheel-based movement, matching bracelet, domed, multi-layer sapphire crystal, engraved case back matching bracelet, a list price of $3,100 doesn’t seem unreasonable — though the price, it should be noted, is the same for strap-based models.
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