We’ve said it before: Longines is one of the brands with the richest history and it is clear that the current management knows how to capitalize on this with the successful Heritage collection – which has recently seen the addition of the Tuxedo or the Sector dial models. One area of expertise for Longines has always been aviation watches, with models like the BigEye or the Hour Angle watch made for Charles Lindberg. And there’s the iconic Type A-7, which today makes its comeback in a more reasonable and faithful package.
The 1935 Longines Type A-7 for the US Army
First issued between the World Wars, the Type A-7 Avigation Hack Watch was a pocket watch chronograph adapted to the wrist specifically designed for navigation. Think of it as an American equivalent to the German B-Uhr Fliegers, only with a chronograph, or to the French Type 20 (see our article about Type 20 watches here). It was supplied to the US Army Air Corps (1926-1941), the predecessor of the US Army Air Forces (1941-1947), and later renamed US Air Force (1947 – present days). The Longines Type A-7 Avigation was designed for aircraft navigation, “Aerial Navigation”, from which derives the name “Avigation”.
The Longines Avigation Type A-7 watches were immediately recognizable with their monopusher chronograph architecture, with the crown/pusher at 2 o’clock and their case/dial shifted 40 degrees – this odd angle was designed to make consulting the time easier without the pilot having to take his hands off the stick. These watches were massive with their 51mm diameter chrome-plated metal cases and were produced by Gallet, Meylan and, of course, Longines, with different dials – black Arabic numerals (as seen above, on the left) or with white dials and Art Deco numerals.
In 2012 Longines resuscitated this unique design with the first Longines A-7 Avigation, a monopusher chronograph with a shifted black dial and a 49mm steel case: a collector’s piece with no concession to ergonomics. In 2016, the brand also revived the white dial model with a 41mm case, as seen here.
The 2020 Black dial Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935
While the 2012 Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 was certainly a very desirable piece, faithful to the proportions of the original 1935 model, its 49mm case did not make it the easiest watch on the wrist – to say the least. This year, Longines brings back this signature design in a more reasonable package, just like the white dial model, with a classic black dial and Arabic numerals.
The rounded, fully polished case of the 2020 Avigation Watch Type A-7 is now a far more wearable 41mm diameter with elongated lugs – about 49mm lug-to-lug. While smaller, the design retains all the desired elements, meaning thin lugs that seem welded on to the case of a pocket watch and an onion crown positioned at 2 o’clock with the chronograph pusher integrated into it. The watch is worn on a brown alligator strap – but I can easily see it on something more rugged.
The main attraction of the Avigation Watch Type A-7 has always been its 40-degree shifted display and the new model respects this feature. If this appears strange at first, the alignment of the two counters and the crown provide visual balance and give the watch a lot of personality. The dial is now matte black with white tracks and printed Arabic numerals executed in cream-coloured Super-LumiNova. The cathedral hands are not entirely faithful to the original model but still work well in this 1930s context. The presence of a date complication is always debatable.
Under the solid stainless steel caseback with an Avigation logo is a proprietary movement for Longines, produced by ETA. The calibre L788.2 (or ETA A08.L11) is a deep evolution of the Valjoux architecture, modified to be a monopusher chronograph actuated by a column wheel. This automatic movement runs at a 4Hz frequency and boasts a comfortable 54h power reserve.
The Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935 (ref. L2.818.104.22.168) will soon be available from retailers and priced at EUR 3,280.
More details at www.longines.com.