As a brand Longines is a bit of an odd bird. In Australia at least they’re mostly known by their crowd pleasing collections, such as the women’s Dolce Vita line and chunky men’s HydroConquest range. And priced as they are at the lower end of the Swatch group stable, it’s easy to forget that Longines have, over the course of their 180 odd years of history produced some of the world’s great watches.
But occasionally Longines remind us of the wide and varied timepieces they have produced over the course of their long history. The collection presented at Baselworld 2014 was a case in point. They’ve impressed the vintage watch purists with a petite homage to the original Conquest watches, but they also put out what is, in our not so humble opinion, one of the best looking recent reissues and one of the most underrated military pilots watches of all time.
Big call, but we’re making it.
The watch that the Longines Heritage 1935 takes it’s inspiration from is a Pilot’s watch made for the (then) Czechoslovakian Air Force. These watches are known as “Majetek” This nomenclature is a bit of a misnomer. It turns out military issued watches were inscribed with “majetek vojenske spravy” on the caseback, which roughly translates as “property of the military” – cool sounding nickname, but doesn’t really make sense in English.
What does make perfect sense is the 2014 reissue of this military classic. The cushion case is essentially identical, they’ve bumped the size up from 41mm to 42mm (the original was a chunky watch for the ’30s), and kept the case structure essentially the same. Longines elected to have the whole case polished on this version, and to be honest we reckon a combination of brushed and polished finishes would have better suited the utilitarian roots of this watch, while still offering everyday flexibility. Also gone is the adjustable bezel. We can deal with that, too. While essential for a WWII Pilot, it’s less necessary for today’s high flyers. To make up for that they’ve added a date at the six o’clock position, a welcome concession to modernity.
Overall though it’s a very faithful version of a great looking vintage watch, and in our opinion it’s heritage watches like this (as well as the Legend Diver from a few years back and the new Conquest) that Longines really excel at. And lest we forget the veritable war-chest of models that they can draw from, stretching right back to when Longines was founded by Auguste Agassiz in 1832. Combined with an attractive price point and the production and R&D capacity that comes with being part of the Swatch Group this all makes for a formidable future. In other words, there’s plenty more where the Majetek came from. Now there’s an exciting thought.
Calibre: Mechanical, self-winding movement L615 (ETA 2895/2), 27 jewels, 28,800 vibrations per hour 42-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds and date aperture at 6 o’clock
Case: Cushion-shaped, 42 mm, steel, scratch-resistant sapphire glass, several anti-reflection coatings
Water-resistant: To 3 bar (30 meters)
Dial: Matt black, 11 painted Arabic numerals coated with Super-LumiNova®
Hands: Pear skeleton hands, rhodium-plated and sanded, coated withSuper LumiNova®
Strap: Black alligator strap with buckle
The Longines Heritage 1935 will retail for $2500. Find out more from Longines.