This isn’t the first time we’ve said it, but Longines is one of the brands that best knows how to play with its heritage and revive some of its most glorious models. Think about the superb Tuxedo Chronograph, the all-time classic Legend Diver or the oddly cool Avigation A7. And it goes on… This year, Longines is adding several new models to its Heritage collection, such as the titanium BigEye, and most importantly, this new edition of the Silver Arrow. It isn’t the first time that this watch is brought back to life, but it seems that this year’s version has plenty of arguments to become a great watch. Something we’ll verify now with a hands-on session.
Before taking a look at the new Silver Arrow, we need to look at the real deal, the original model. The story of the Longines Silver Arrow goes back to 1955 when the brand held an in-house contest to find the name for a new timepiece with an avant-garde design. One name emerged from the 450 proposals: Silver Arrow – a reference to the famous German sports cars that dominated the racing circuits of the era. Longines released the first Silver Arrow in 1956. Back then, each of the brand’s collections bore an emblem. And this futuristic model was no exception to the rule.
To symbolise its connection to racing circuits and celestial paths, the caseback of the Silver Arrow was decorated with a supersonic plane flying through the stars. Although it was a simple time-only watch, the dial was adorned with contemporary elements, such as the sharp sword-shaped hands and the cool texture of its striated indexes.
The watch we’ll be looking at today isn’t the first time Longines is re-issuing the Silver Arrow. Already back in 2009, the brand introduced a vintage-inspired model based on the original concept. It was a 38.5mm watch with a relatively generic case and a two-tone dial with some details inspired by the 1956 watch, but with a date and without the main distinctive element of the Silver Arrow, the striated/fluted indexes.
The new Longines Silver Arrow
One thing is sure is that the team at Longines is well trained in the exercise of vintage re-editions. Certainly, this isn’t the most complex of the creative processes as we’re not talking about a brand new design started from scratch, but let’s assume that when it comes to introducing retro inspiration into a modern package, Longines is not only good at it, it gets better and better with the years – as a look at the 2009 edition of the Silver Arrow will suggest. While this watch is still attractive today, it missed the most distinctive design element of the 1950s model, that of the indexes. Well, Longines is correcting this in 2021 with a new edition of the Silver Arrow that aims at being even closer in spirit to the original version.
First, the case of this Silver Arrow millésime 2021 is far closer to the original watch, at least in terms of shape and design – not in terms of proportions. The 1950s model was probably around 34mm in diameter, and this new Silver Arrow measures 38.50mm in diameter. By all means, this is a compact case, by contemporary standards. Longines’ idea with its Heritage collection has never been to be 100% faithful, but to evoke the past with modernly designed and powered models. The watch has a pleasant size, is relatively thin on the wrist but doesn’t lack presence either.
The case is nicely constructed, with a bezel that sits low into the case and a domed caseback, reinforcing the feeling of thinness (around 10mm). The domed crown is also an ode to the original model, and the caseback is decorated with the definitive element of this collection, a supersonic plane flying through the stars. It is water-resistant to 30m only, but this watch is clearly on the dressy side.
The shape of the case is also faithful to the original with thin, angular lugs, an inner and outer bevel, and an angled, relatively thick polished bezel. I wouldn’t call the case particularly distinctive, yet it is pleasantly executed and proportioned. It is good enough not to be forgotten yet sufficiently discreet to leave space for the real attraction, the dial.
What really matters indeed here is the dial – and this is often the case with these simple time-only Longines re-editions. I can remember how special the Tuxedo Chronograph’s dial was in the metal, specifically at this price point. Well, the dial of the Silver Arrow – even though it doesn’t have the same complexity as the Tux’ – is pretty attractive and impressively executed for a sub-2K watch.
At first, it appears relatively simple and straightforward, with a silver-white colour, a slightly grained texture and applied indexes. A closer inspection reveals, however, beautiful details that pay tribute to the original watch. First, the dial, just like the sapphire crystal, is domed. Second, the colour is more lively in ambient light than you’d expect, with pleasant metallic reflections. Finally, this new model is relatively discreet regarding the dial’s literature, only bringing back the logo, the name of the brand and the name of the collection in historically correct fonts.
And there are these unique indexes, which are striated and polished, playing with the light and catching the attention. These are neatly executed with precise textures and surfaces. They are combined with faceted dauphine hands, filled with a thin SLN insert. The periphery of the dial is also interesting, with a metallic circular area and minute markers – with luminous lines every five minutes.
Inside the case, the new Longines Silver Arrow doesn’t look at the past and features the brand’s proprietary calibre L888.5. This automatic movement, based on an ETA 2892 ébauche, brings multiple improvements. The power reserve, for instance, is now 72 hours. Also, it is equipped with a silicon balance-spring to ensure high-precision accuracy and enhanced resistance to magnetic fields. Finally, it has been developed to be reliable, proven by the 5-year warranty delivered with the watch.
The Longines Silver Arrow is worn on a sleek 19mm strap that complements its streamlined design. It is an unobtrusive and conservative choice, which can always be changed later if you want something with more punch.
Availability & Price
The 2021 Longines Silver Arrow (ref. L2.818.104.22.168) has started to be delivered to certain markets and should be available worldwide in the coming weeks – both from retailers and from the brand’s online boutique. It is priced at EUR 1,950 or USD 2,100.
More details at www.longines.com.