Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1927, became a poster boy for Longines. Not only was the brand in charge of measuring the official flight time of his epic feat, but it worked together with Lindbergh to create the famous navigation watch – Hour Angle – for pilots. Famous aviators associated with the brand, like Amelia Earhart, Elinor Smith, or the tycoon Howard Hughes, relied on Longines’s onboard chronometers and wristwatches for their exploits. Longines launched its successful Spirit collection in 2020, capitalising on its rich heritage. The Spirit Zulu Time, a genuine traveller’s GMT, joined the collection in 2022 in a 42mm format. It certainly looks like Longines has kept its ear to the ground and picked up petitions from different watch forums clamouring for a smaller edition of its GMT Pilot’s watch as it unveils three new compact models Spirit Zulu Time 39mm with a chronometer-certified movement.
Zulu Time is a term coined by the military to indicate the time at the zero meridian, aka Greenwich Mean Time, now referred to as Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). Zulu is the radio transmission for the letter “Z” and helped pilots make themselves understood over the radio. Originally the “Z” was associated with Zebra but changed to Zulu when the NATO phonetic alphabet changed. And sure enough, Longines happened to have a Zulu Time wristwatch in its archives with GMT functionality and a large red Zulu flag on the dial from 1925. Although the Spirit Zulu Time looks nothing like the dainty rectangular Art Deco model of 1925, it has historical legitimacy.
The successful Spirit collection combines historical references from the brand’s aviation past with modern features. Far less vintage-inspired than the Heritage collection, the Spirit features time-and-date, chronograph, time only and, in 2022, the Zulu Time GMT model. Probably one of the most fitting complications for an aviation-inspired collection, the GMT is a traveller’s GMT, not an office GMT (this article explains the differences between the two formats), meaning the local hour hand can be adjusted in one-hour jumps at the crown.
The latest stainless steel Spirit Zulu Time 39mm models have a case thickness of 13.50mm and a water-resistance of 100 metres. Fitted with a ceramic bezel insert with an engraved 24-hour scale with lacquered numbers, the bidirectional rotating bezel operates smoothly and comes in black, green, blue and a rather special chocolate colour (almost black in pictures). Almost a John Player Special combo with its dark dial and gold accents, the standout model is the yellow gold bezel edition with a yellow gold screw-in crown and the brown ceramic insert on the bezel. An arrow-shaped hand linked to a 24-hour scale indicates the second time zone.
Legibility is a key function of a pilot’s watch, and the applied numerals, diamond-shaped hour markers and all the hands are treated with Super-LumiNova. A nice detail is the diamond-shaped tip of the central seconds hand matching the shape of the hour markers. You’ll notice how the chocolate and green bezel models use a warmer tone of luminescent material (Old Radium) to match the ‘JPS’ look.
The other references – one with a sunray-brushed blue dial and blue bezel and one with a matte black dial and glossy black ceramic bezel – highlight the arrow-tipped GMT hand in orange on the blue dial and blue on the black. The date is displayed in a window at 6 o’clock with a background matching the dial colour. The brand’s winged hourglass logo and the five stars are applied to the dial. The sapphire crystal is slightly domed and features an anti-reflective coating on both sides.
Hidden beneath the sealed caseback is the automatic calibre L844.4, an exclusive and extensively modified version of the ETA calibre A31 with COSC chronometry certification (represented by the five stars stamped on the dial). The movement runs at 25,200 vibrations per hour, features an anti-magnetic silicon balance spring in compliance with the ISO 764 standard and delivers a 72-hour power reserve.
Availability & Price
Available with interchangeable straps or bracelets, and even a brown NATO-style strap for the two-tone model, there are nine references in total:
- L3.802.4.53.2 – steel with black dial & bezel, leather strap
- L3.802.4.53.6 – steel with black dial & bezel, steel bracelet
- L3.802.4.63.2 – steel with anthracite dial & green bezel, leather strap
- L3.802.4.63.6 – steel with anthracite dial & green bezel, steel bracelet
- L3.802.4.93.2 – steel with blue dial & bezel, leather strap
- L3.802.4.93.6 – steel with blue dial & bezel, steel bracelet
- L3.802.5.53.2 – steel & gold with anthracite dial, leather strap
- L3.802.5.53.6 – steel & gold with anthracite dial, steel bracelet
- L3.802.5.53.9 – steel & gold with anthracite dial, NATO-style strap
The Longines Spirit Zulu Time 39mm in full steel retails for CHF 2.850 / EUR 3.200 on the leather strap or CHF 2.950 / EUR 3.350 on the steel bracelet. The steel & gold models range from CHF 3.950 / EUR 4.450 on the brown NATO-style strap or the leather strap to CHF 4.050 / EUR 4.600 on the bracelet.
For more information and to view the strap configurator, please consult longines.com.