6 watches that tell the history of Longines dive watches in the ’60s and ’70sNick Kenyon
Longines is one of the more successful and storied Swiss watch manufacturers over its lengthy history, which dates all the way back to 1832. But when most of us think of vintage Longines, we think of beautifully proportioned dress watches from the 1950s and their critical contribution to pilots watches from the early ’30s. In short, we sometimes overlook the important history of Longines dive watches.
In fact, several horological underwater firsts are attributed to the Saint-Imier based brand, including the original water resistant chronograph back in 1937. In that spirit, today we’ll be taking a closer look at a few important dive watches that tell this part of Longines history, showcasing several pieces that we were lucky enough to handle from the Longines Museum Collection, which focus around the golden age of the dive watch around the ’60s and ’70s.
Super-Compressor Longines Diver’s watch, ref. 7042
First up, let’s take a look at the original watch that the contemporary Longines Legend Diver is based on: the Super-Compressor Longines Diver’s watch, ref. 7042. This 42mm watch was first produced in 1959 together with the case making firm Piquerez SA, which helped execute the double-crown design that is still closely linked to Longines.
The double crown was designed so that the rotating dive bezel could be protected underneath the glass covering the dial and prevented from being damaged by sand or seawater. The watch was powered by the self-winding cal. 19AS that beat at 18,000vph and was guaranteed for 120m of water resistance.
Longines Ultra-Chron Diver, ref. 7970
Next up we have a watch that was at the technical cutting edge when it was developed in 1967, with the Longines Ultra-Chron Diver, ref. 7970. This was the first diver’s watch driven by a high-frequency caliber that beat at 36,000vph and was accurate to within two seconds per day – extremely impressive for a dive watch at the time.
It featured a bold steel cushion case that measured 41mm in diameter, as well as a bright orange minute hand that contrasts beautifully against the black dial. It was guaranteed to 200m of water resistance, secured with a screw-down caseback.
Longines Diver’s Chronograph, ref. 8224
It was a year later in 1968 the Longines Diver’s Chronograph, ref. 8224 was released which also featured a cushion case that was made with Piquerez, the same case maker that assisted with the development of the Longines super-compressor case.
This three register chronograph also had an internal rotating bezel that could be used with the crown at 10 o’clock, and was water resistant to 200m.
Longines Ultronic Diver, ref. 8484
Then, in 1970 we saw the Longines Ultronic Diver, ref. 8484, a bold and colourful dive watch that perfectly encapsulated the mood of early ’70s watch design.
The bold colours across the bezel and dial, the shaped 41mm steel case and the accurate tuning fork movement were all hallmarks of the time, serving up some serious character on the wrist.
Longines Diver’s Chronograph ref. 8229-1
We have another piece from around 1970 in the Longines Diver’s Chronograph ref. 8229-1. Once again using the period popular cushion case shape, this 42mm three register chronograph features a hi-contrast black and white dial with a pop of colour in the red seconds hand.
It is powered by a Valjoux 72 mechanical movement and has a handy rotating dive bezel with a 60 minute scale around it.
Longines Lady Diver ref. 7920
Finally, we have something a little smaller that what you might be used to seeing in a dive watch.
The Longines Lady Diver ref. 7920 features a 27mm cushion-shaped compressor style case and a matching brushed steel bezel.
Made in the late ’60s around 1968, this reference is particularly rare (it is unlikely that a large number were produced) and contains an automatic caliber 14.17 inside it.
Made in partnership with Longines. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.