HANDS-ON: The Longines Legend Diver Bronze makes warm metals cool againThor Svaboe
The Longines Legend Diver Bronze is a pitch-perfect, vintage-style diver. Yet somehow it’s failed to get the attention it deserves due, in part, because understatement is the name of its game. While the Rado Captain Cook turns heads with its lush colourways and the Oris Divers Sixty-Five makes noise with its ever-changing iterations, this bronze diver plays things down and allows its impressive looks to slowly take hold of your psyche. By the time you finally notice it, well, it’s already too late. You’re completely under its spell.
If you are intrigued by the charm of bronze, but have been put off by the narrow choice of monstrous tool watches and colourful skin divers, this might be your ticket into the world of patina. The revitalised Longines Legend Diver offers a more formal approach to the vintage diver game, and brings a suited-up vibe to the game, more evocative of marine chronometers than scuba gear and speedboats.
The case for bronze
Longines have delivered a strong year achieving the balancing act of heritage with modernism better than most. The softly spoken Legend Diver is a superb example of the former. It plays with the early ’60s language of an elegant, understated tool watch. This echoes a time when diving was for specialists, before the advent of Cousteau and the scuba boom when everyone wanted to go diving and a rainbow of colours exploded onto watch dials.
This has an air of a gentleman adventurer from another age. The Legend Diver has remained fairly unchanged, its compressor case remaining as balanced as when first shown at Baselworld. That watch has always been fairly dressy with its monochromatic guise and polished case, despite the quirky detail of the inner rotating bezel. This latest piece changes things up – while the shape is the same, this watch is even more luxurious and refined. The caseback has the typical pebble-smooth roundness of the Heritage line with a detailed scuba diver engraving. Longines have used their largest Legend Diver size of 42mm for this bronze version, a good medium size with their typical long, slender lugs. In particular, I love the two large crowns, sharply serrated and topped off by an engraved cross-hatch pattern that turn up the functionality factor.
The almost rose-gold colour of the bronze that’ll change as it patinas, has met its match here contrasted with the dark forest green dial. The dégradé tone, a finish first associated with the crazy dial designs of the early ’70s, here plays a different tune. The green abyss-like background set against the rose gold hands and creamy print on the dial conspires to bring a cohesion and warmth that befits the first impression of dressy vintage. This dial is a subtle delight – close to black on the inner bezel and grassy green in the centre.
What appears first as an unfeasible number of markers and lume plots makes perfect sense in a highly legible dial with a clear demarcation of the centre versus the bezel readout. The crisp gold print of logo and charming vintage font underlines the early ’60s tone. Meanwhile the spearhead golden handset is understated and almost apologetically small, yet perfectly proportioned to fit within the inner dial. The sharply angled rotating inner dive bezel is almost black, making the all-important remaining minutes of air clearly legible.
You might not want to go diving with the hand-sewn two-stitch strap in a smooth calf leather, but you also get a perfectly matched green NATO with bronze hardware, to fully explore the 300m depth rating. Change to the dressy leather strap for an evening of tall tales of the deep, while welcoming guests for cocktails in the Captain’s quarters.
As with in the rest of the Legend Diver range, the movement is the tried-and-trusted L888.5 caliber. This is an ETA movement made exclusively for Longines, introducing a healthy 64 hours of power reserve to a technically advanced automatic that also includes a silicon balance spring.
This isn’t a watch for wearing on a speedboat in the South of France and that’s why the Legend Diver stands out. It’s a quietly confident diver with oodles of style. This is plainly obvious by the two-stitch leather strap that wants to stay dry under a sharp denim shirt rather than a frazzled tee – or you might want to put on that peacoat, Captain.
Longines Legend Diver Bronze price and availability:
The Longines Legend Diver Bronze is $4475 AU, and is available on request. For more details, visit Longines right here.
Made in partnership with Longines. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.