Monochrome Watches
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The Longines Spirit, a New Pilot’s Watch Collection

Inspired by legendary aviators and explorers who rely on Longines watches.

| By Brice Goulard | 7 min read |
2020 Longines Spirit Collection Pilot's Watch

Longines has a long history of instrument watches, for military forces, sportsmen or pilots. Some of the greatest explorers or pioneers put their trust in the ‘winged hourglass’ on their incredible journeys, benefiting from the brand’s expertise as they conquered air, land and sea. Think Lindbergh, Heinmuller, Van Horn Weems, Piccard and many others. Today, the brand is unveiling a new collection of instrument watches that pays tribute to this pioneering spirit. Meet the new Longines Spirit Collection, composed of a time-and-date and a chronograph with a chronometer-certified movement.

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Longines and the Pioneers

Founded in 1832 in Saint-Imier in the Swiss Jura, Longines became renowned for timing sports events thanks to its early chronograph pocket watches. With the advent of aeroplanes and the need for pilots to rely on precise timekeeping instruments, the brand would become one of the most coveted manufacturers for pioneering aviators. Charles Lindbergh is the most illustrious name associated with Longines. Onboard his Spirit of St. Louis, he achieved the first non-stop transatlantic solo flight in 1927 with a Longines watch to time his record. He then worked with the brand to develop the Hour Angle watch. However, more explorers and pilots, pioneers of their own kind, also worn Longines watches.

Amelia Earhart

14 hours and 56 minutes – That is how long it took Amelia Earhart to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic in 1932, wearing her Longines chronograph. Thanks to her fearless spirit, she succeeded in fighting icy winds and mechanical failures, becoming the first woman to connect the continents. Before that, in 1928, she had already been the first woman to ever fly over the Atlantic, as a co-pilot.

Paul-Emile Victor

Up to -40° C for 49 days – Paul-Emile Victor spent seven weeks researching the Greenland ice desert in 1936. Even in the harshest weather conditions, his Longines chronometers continued to work accurately, helping him to calculate longitude. “These watches made the difference between failure and success,” Victor later stated. He devoted his whole life to polar expeditions.

Elinor Smith

32,576 feet – While flying at 30,000 feet in 1931, American aviator Elinor Smith blacked out. She was trying to break a record when her plane dropped towards the ground. Smith woke up at the last minute and managed to land safely. Ten days later, she soared even higher and set a new record at 32,576 feet, relying on her trusted Longines watch. After becoming the youngest licensed pilot in the world at 16, Smith set multiple solo endurance, speed, and altitude records in her lifetime.

Howard Hughes

3 days, 19 hours, 14 minutes – Howard Hughes’ round-the-world flight record was timed by Longines in 1938. The eccentric American is famous for his twin passions: aviation and the world of film. He is the best-known user of the Longines Sidérograph, an on-board device for celestial navigation that was patented by Longines. The crew in Howard Hughes’ aircraft relied on Longines chronometer watches, set to Greenwich Civil Time and to Greenwich Sidereal Time, and wore Longines Second-Setting watches for observation.

The Longines Spirit Collection

This new Longines Spirit collection is not part of the Heritage line, vintage-inspired watches with a faithful retro design. Indeed, this Spirit collection isn’t a re-edition, like most of the Heritage models are. Instead, it has been created from scratch yet the brand combines historical references with modern mechanics and contemporary codes.

Launched in two versions, one as a time-and-date watch, the other as an automatic chronograph, both share the same design elements and identical cases. This Longines Spirit Collection can be categorized as a pilot’s watch and features most of the traditional features you’d expect from such a watch. Robust case, legible dial with luminous Arabic numerals, oversized crown, large baton hands… And, of course, a focus on precision.

Both Longines Spirit models come in a classically shaped stainless steel case with pronounced lines and facets. The central part combines brushed surfaces with sharp polished accents on the sides and is topped by a raised, muscular bezel, which is also brushed and polished. A domed sapphire crystal on top (and a plain steel caseback) finishes this robust pilot’s look. Both versions feature an oversized crown and the chronograph is equipped with large mushroom-type pushers, as well as a screwed date corrector.

The Longines Spirit collection will be offered with three different dial colours, including the matte black and sunray blue you can see in this article, as well as a grained silver version. All of them feature a combination of applied Arabic numerals and diamond-shaped markers, with pilot-style baton hands – all filled with Super-LumiNova. Characteristic of this model are the five stars applied on the dial; at Longines, this has always signified an improvement of the quality and reliability of the brand’s movements. Five stars are the maximum number that can be achieved.

The Longines Spirit Time-and-Date

The first model in the Spirit collection is a classic three-hand and calendar watch. Interestingly, this version will be available in two diameters, 40mm and 42mm, so potential customers will have a choice between daily wearability or a robust pilot’s look. Available in black, silver or blue, this time-and-date version can be worn either on a leather strap (brown, black or blue) with pin buckle or on a 3-link stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp.

To power this model, Longines relies on a modern and precise movement, the calibre L888.4 – a highly modified and improved ETA base. Equipped with a silicon balance spring, it has a slightly slower beat rate of 25,200 vibrations/hour, which combined to an updated barrel brings a comfortable 64h power reserve. This automatic movement is also chronometer-certified.

In addition to the classic 40mm or 42mm variations and multiple strap/bracelet options, Longines also launches a ‘Prestige Edition’ of the Spirit Time-and-Date. Available in both sizes, this higher-end version is delivered with three interchangeable straps – steel bracelet, leather strap and NATO strap in brown leather.

Quick facts

  • Case: 40mm or 42mm stainless steel case – sapphire crystal – screw-in crown – 100m water-resistant
  • Dial: matte black, grained silver or sunray blue dial with luminous applied markers and hands
  • Movement: calibre L888.4, automatic, COSC-certified – silicon balance spring – 21 jewels – 25,200 vibrations/hour – 64h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Strap: available on steel bracelet or leather strap
  • Price: 40mm version CHF 2,000, 42mm version CHF 2,100, 40mm Prestige Edition CHF 2,600, 42mm Prestige Edition CHF 2,700

The Longines Spirit Chronograph

The second model in the Longines Spirit collection had to be a chronograph, a complication that is often related to pilot’s watches as well as being one of Longines’ fields of expertise. This chrono version is only available in a 42mm case, with three dial colours (blue, black, silver). Again here, the watch can be worn on a leather strap with pin buckle or on a steel bracelet with folding clasp.

2020 Longines Spirit Collection Pilot's Watch

Powering this version is an interesting movement, Longines’ proprietary automatic column-wheel chronograph movement – again, a highly-modified ETA base, with the cam-lever device replaced by a nobler and more accurate column-wheel system. This 4Hz movement features a silicon hairspring and an improved kinetic chain, resulting in 60 hours of power reserve. Its precision is also certified by the COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres).

Quick facts

  • Case: 42mm stainless steel case – sapphire crystal – screw-in crown – 100m water-resistant
  • Dial: matte black, grained silver or sunray blue dial with luminous applied markers and hands
  • Movement: calibre L688.4 – automatic column-wheel chronograph – COSC-certified – silicon balance spring – 27 jewels – 28,800 vibrations/hour – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, date, tri-compax chronograph
  • Strap: available on steel bracelet or leather strap
  • Price: CHF 2,900

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8 responses

  1. Another date at 4:30 spoiling an otherwise nice dial.

  2. nice watches … the chrono looks like a poor man’s Breitling Aviator

  3. Oooh, they’re even 100m water resistant with a screw-down crown. Nice!! Most of these heritage pieces (from Longines and also others) are usually limited to 50m (or 60m for IWC), which to me is dress watch territory, meaning they won’t survive me doing dishes with them on. I just wish there was a time-only version.

  4. What is the exact measurement for the thickness of the case including the crystal? 2 mm make a world of a difference: 13 mm or less vs 15 mm or more … Please inquire and update your info, thanks

  5. Very nice watch the “LONGINES SPIRIT” but I miss the number 3.
    I don’t like dates out of three, which is why I won’t be buying it.
    Does much to the design, but that’s my opinion.

  6. These watches look amazing. I also love the date window at 4.30. I would never buy a watch with a date function. Two things up, Longines!

  7. I think if you’re doing a chrono watch then leave the date window out. Great idea putting the window at 4:30 but it’s still too busy.
    The classic looking watch would have been great if they moved the date to 4:30 and put in the 3.
    The chrono does look quite striking though.

  8. Exactly Markus, Breitling Navitimer/Aviator 8 with the ETA7750 based movement

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