HANDS-ON: The Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary delivers a classically handsome dress watchLuke Benedictus
This year marks Longines’ 190th anniversary and they’re celebrating with an exclusive timepiece from their top-of-the-range Master Collection. Since 2005 , the Master Collection has become Longines’ home for their more traditionally styled pieces that riff off a number of the brand’s classic designs from the middle part of the 20th century. These are high-end watches with a refined sensibility but, in customary style, Longines have somehow found a way to keep their offerings as keenly priced as ever. It may be the Master Collection, but it’s not out of the reach of a resourceful apprentice.
The Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary model actually includes three versions of this traditional-yet-contemporary dress watch, with limited editions in solid yellow or rose gold, and this one, in stainless steel with classic blued steel hands. All three share the same dimensions and movement as well as some absolutely stunning dials.
This stainless reference, the L2.7220.127.116.11, is right in the wheelhouse of what a lot of us look for in a classically handsome dress watch. The circular case has a 40mm diameter and a thickness of under 10mm (9.35mm to be precise), which is impressive for a watch with a display caseback. Those dimensions hit a real sweet spot for size, ensuring this watch will be a great fit for a lot of wrists. Unlike many contemporary watches, the 190th Anniversary’s case is fully polished, so it leans toward the dressier end of the spectrum. Another thing you’ll notice about the case is the fluidity of the contouring: you won’t find any ultra-sharp edges here. The lines of the bezel, case sides, and lugs all flow together pretty seamlessly and the care that was taken in the finishing really shows. Along with the full-polish finishing, there’s a certain softness that gives the watch a special kind of glow.
But now, let’s focus on what I think is the big story of the 190th Anniversary: the dial. Each of the three dials features a distinct finish. There’s a vertical brushing on the yellow gold, a unique grained texture on the rose gold, but the stainless-steel model’s dial gets its own special treatment. Look closely, and you’ll see a super-fine texture on the silver, no-date dial, achieved from sandblasting the surface. It almost makes you wish you could run your fingertip over the dial to feel that delicate texture.
That’s not the only highlight either. The Arabic numerals of the indices are deeply engraved into the dial, which gives light and shade room to run wild as you move your wrist. It’s a dial effect that simply could not be achieved with a typical printed or applied indices. Subtle debossing of the chapter ring serves as the minute track, keeping things nice and understated. The leaf-shaped handset is one of my favourite touches, as the hands are rendered in traditional blued steel. It’s a nice detail, if only to see that nod to history on a modern timepiece. All that visual interest is protected underneath a sapphire crystal, which gets an anti-reflective treatment on both sides. The engraved caseback is see-through as well, which brings us onto the movement…
Fully visible through the display back, the Longines Calibre L888.5 movement, a nicely decorated automatic sourced from Longines parent company, the Swatch Group. It features 21 jewels, a silicon balance spring for its increased durability and antimagnetic properties, and a long weekend’s worth of power reserve at 72 hours. So, how’s the view through the caseback? Very nice, with engine-turning visible behind the Geneva striping on the rotor, which also features engraved script, and a cut-out Longines “winged hourglass” logo.
Finally, the strap itself has an upscale feel, rendered in an anthracite-coloured, padded alligator leather. The colour perfectly suits the case and dial, and it just looks opulent. Another luxe touch is the stainless-steel, triple-fold, push-button clasp, which elevates the strap from one that might simply use a pin buckle. It just turns the fastening of this watch into more of an event, if you know what I mean. While it’s certainly well-proportioned to the case’s dimensions, a 21mm lug width could be a bit limiting if you’re someone that likes to change straps on a regular basis. But it’s certainly not a dealbreaker, and the supplied strap is also really nice, so this will likely be a non-issue for most.
The Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary pricing and availability
The Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary is available now. Prices: L2.718.104.22.168 (Stainless steel) $3,450, L2.722.214.171.124 (Yellow gold) $17,250, L2.7126.96.36.199 (Rose gold) $17,250
|Model||Master Collection 190th Anniversary|
|Reference Number||L2.7188.8.131.52 (stainless steel)
L2.7184.108.40.206 (18k yellow gold)
L2.7220.127.116.11 (18k rose gold)
|Case Dimensions||40mm x 9.35mm|
|Case Material||Stainless steel
18k yellow gold
18k pink gold
|Water Resistance||3 bar|
|Strap||Anthracite alligator strap with folding clasp or gold buckle|
|Movement||Longines exclusive calibre L888.5, 72-hour power reserve, Si balance spring|
|Price||A$3,450 (L2.718.104.22.168, stainless steel)
A$17,250 (L2.722.214.171.124, yellow gold)
A$17,250 (L2.7126.96.36.199, rose gold)