Every year there’s a couple of timepieces that, for one reason or another, slip under the collective radar of us watch enthusiasts.
There were more than a few examples in 2019: think the Citizen Eco-Drive Caliber 0100, Rado Golden Horse, Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic … the list goes on.
But the watch that tends to sound out louder than any other is this — the Longines Master Collection Ref. L2.6126.96.36.199.
Quite how people aren’t screaming about this timepiece from the rooftops is nothing short of baffling and, much to my shame, I too didn’t really give it a second thought either.
But upon revisiting this complicated timepiece and getting to spend some time with it on my wrist, I must say, boy oh boy, was I foolish for not being more excited about it.
Why? Well, simply put, and much like several other timepieces that piqued the collective interest of the horological community – it’s down to the size of the case.
You see, Longines already make a Master Collection with blue sunburst dial, but its stainless steel case measured a beefy 42mm.
Now, however, Longines has seen fit to create the timepiece in a much more svelte and versatile 40mm case … and the change is dramatic.
The classically rounded steel case, which retains it highly polished finish, now sits on my middling wrist with aplomb, with the nicely curved lugs stopping well short of the edge of my wrist – a feat that the 42mm example cannot achieve.
The case resizing isn’t the only drawcard of this watch though, because, for less than five big ones, this might be one of the best value-for-money watches on the market.
The radially brushed, sunburst navy blue dial is lovely, and the way it catches the light and changes in tonality is a treat that will have you constantly glancing at it, which can cause a bit of a problem because if you’re in the company of friends they think you’re being impatient and inattentive … whoops!
Sticking with the dial, the amount of complication on offer with this watch does run the risk of making its face look overly cluttered or fussy, especially with the decreased size of the dial.
But despite displaying hours, minutes, small seconds with a 24-hours indicator at 9 o’clock, date indicator around the circumference, a column wheel chronograph mechanism with central 60-seconds hand, moon phase display with 12-hours counter at 6 o’clock and 30-minutes counter with day and month display at 12 o’clock, the dial is cohesively well-judged.
All these complications are possible thanks to Longines utilising the Caliber L687, which is the exact same movement that its larger 42mm brother uses.
It’s nothing short of a great caliber, and is actually based on ETA’s powerful and somewhat bulletproof 7751 movement.
What’s even more of a boon is that the watch is capped on both the front and case back with sapphire crystal, which provides optimum levels of legibility and also allows you to admire the hard-working movement, replete with its blued steel column wheel.
The Longines is paired with a navy blue alligator leather band with contrasting white stitching and a stainless steel three-fold clasp with push-button mechanism.
I think it’s important to reiterate, this Longines Master Collection has a recommended retail price of just $4675. And yes, I’m using the word “just”, because I cannot think of many other timepieces on the market that offer this much complication, beauty and practicality. What’s more, it’s being produced by a legacy watchmaker with more history in horology than almost any other.
So, if you’re in the market for a dress watch that spares nothing for complication, build quality or legacy, this timepiece is, as far as I’m concerned, a no-brainer. And hopefully it will start to get the recognition that it duly deserves.