HANDS-ON: The Longines Spirit Flyback leverages the brand’s near-century of experience with the complicationZach Blass
The Longines Spirit collection has cemented itself as a go-to option for buyers looking for value-driven and robust daily wearers. The collection has since grown, offering new materials, colours, sizes, and complications. Up until this point, however, we were limited to time and date, standard chronograph, and GMT models. Longines has once again looked to their rich heritage, particularly with flyback chronographs, to present the new Longines Spirit Flyback. Longines explains: “Longines actually equipped its first models with a flyback function in 1925 and filed a patent for this on 12 June 1935. The patent went on to be registered on 16 June 1936: a world first. The particular advantage of flyback is that it gives pilots a practical and fast way of successively timing different flight stages, thus facilitating navigation.”
The Longines Spirit Flyback, across all configurations, is cased in stainless steel with a diameter of 42mm and a thickness of 17mm (about 3mm thicker than the Spirit Zulu Time GMT). The trade-off with the Spirit Flyback is that while it is rather beefy in thickness, the flyback chronograph is rated to a depth of 100 metres further secured by its screw-down crown. That being said, the pushers are not screw-down. So, definitely do not engage the pushers under water. Also, if the refined ergonomics of the 42mm Spirit Zulu Time GMT are any indication, the watch may carries a manageable lug-to-lug span.
Its case has an elegant, vintage-inspired array of mixed finishes, predominantly brushed, as is befitting of a tool watch, but vintage-inspired in that it also carries polished bevels to the flanks and lugs of the case. Framing the dial is a bi-directional timing bezel, outfitted with a scratch-resistant ceramic insert that tonally matches the dial.
There are two colour configurations at disposal, black and blue, each of which have a sunburst finish that creates subtle textures of radiating lines and creates dynamic quadrants which will play under light depending on the angle. The dials are otherwise identical, each including Longines branding at 12 o’clock, and “Flyback Chronometer” labelling with five stars at 6 o’clock. They each also make use of two counters at 3 and 9 o’clock, applied Arabic hour numerals with the exception of 3 and 9, and bronze accents for the hands and numerals.
Interestingly, only the main handset, Arabics, and recessed diamond indices are filled with SuperLuminova, so should you want to see the running seconds in darkness, and assuming you are not using the chronograph function while flying, you’ll have to engage the central chrono hand in sync with the running seconds. Each counter has a concentric azurage texture that is bordered with a sloped bronze ring – each of which helps heighten legibility and makes the counters easier to discern. A similar thin bronze ring can be found at the outer border of the dial just before the hashed outer minutes track.
The Longines Spirt Flyback is offered on both straps and case-matching bracelets. The bracelet follows the familiar five-piece format, with three broader pieces richly brushed and two narrower intermediary links mirror polished, secured to the wrist via a triple-safety folding clasp. For the black dial configuration, the Longines Spirit Flyback may be purchased on a brown leather strap, beige NATO strap, or on the bracelet. The blue dial configuration, at least at the point of purchase, appears to be limited to strictly a blue leather strap or the stainless-steel bracelet. All of the strap/bracelet options include quick-release tabs on their underside, meaning you can easily swap between them. Without knowing the price of purchasing the bracelet separately, my recommendation would be to buy the watch on the bracelet if possible as it is just A$100 more. Typically it is less expensive to buy straps separately, than to buy the bracelet separately later on.
Exhibited beneath the caseback is the Longines-exclusive automatic flyback chronograph calibre L791.4. The L791.4 features a column-wheel architecture that removes the start-stutter cam-driven chronographs can have, offering a more precise chronograph as well as a more pleasant engaging experience. The calibre boasts 68 hours of power reserve, an anti-magnetic silicon balance spring, and COSC chronometer certification that ensures it leaves the factory performing within +6/-4 seconds per day.
Looking at the watch head on, it has an attractively finished case and dial layout. Its one Achilles heel is its rather beefy 17mm case thickness. For those looking to dress up this sportier watch, it would be hard to get away with wearing it with a more tailored and tight-fitting sleeve. That being said, its 100-metre depth rating and weekend-proof, silicon escapement-equipped flyback chronograph calibre means this watch largely has more advantages than disadvantages. Ultimately, if its thickness does not deter you it’s good tech for good money in my book.
Longines Spirit Flyback pricing and availability:
|Case Dimensions||42mm (D) x 17mm (T)|
|Case Material||Stainless steel|
|Water Resistance||100m (screw-down crown)|
|Dial||Black or blue sunray dial|
|Crystal||Sapphire crystal and caseback|
|Bracelet/Strap||Brown leather or blue fabric strap with folding clasp and micro adjustment system
Stainless steel bracelet with triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism,
Beige NATO strap with buckle (L3.8126.96.36.199)
|Movement||Longines-exclusive automatic calibre L791.4, based on ETA A08.L11, silicon escapement, COSC-certified|
|Power Reserve||68 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, running seconds, flyback chronograph|
|Price||Starting from A$7,100|