For the past few years, Longines has been quite active in the field of vintage reissues and vintage-inspired watches. In fact, there’s an entire collection named “Heritage”, full of watches that pay tribute to the rich past of the 185 years old brand. Some were just fine, some were highly desirable and some were rather disappointing (those date windows…) However, today, it seems that with the new Longines Avigation BigEye, we might have a solid package: a military-inspired pilot chronograph, with vintage flair, no-date display, balanced proportions, nice automatic movement and a very decent price…
We’re certainly not going to teach you anything new here, but Longines has a long-term relationship with aviation. Whether we talk Lindbergh or WWII pilot watches, the vintage collections are full of those highly desirable watches made for aviation. This rich past has been a proper playfield for the brand, which reissued some of its most iconic pieces, having a look at almost every decade, from the 1930s with the Lindbergh watches, the Avigation Watch Type A-7 or the Heritage 1935 (reissue of a model for Czech pilots), to WWII pieces and 1950s or 1960s pieces. Today, Longines expands on that theme with a piece that pays tribute to the early 1970s. However, with no fancy colours or funky cases, this new Longines Avigation BigEye is very well imbued with military roots.
Longines here keeps its tradition of pilot watches and military chronographs. The Avigation BigEye has been modelled after an early-1970s watch made for military aviators. Yet, because these watches were made for armed forces, there was no need to be fashionable. Instead, classic codes were used, with a focus on legibility and contrast. There’s even a bit of contemporary Type XX in this model, without the rotating bezel though. The new version brings back an oversized minute counter, explaining its name “BigEye”.
The dial is classical, with a semi-glossy black colour, and 9 large Arabic numerals coated with Super-LumiNova. The hands are sand-blasted and rhodium-plated, as are the numerals, and they are filled with luminous paint. Contrast is superb, and legibility remains optimized during day and night. The 3-counter layout of the dial is balanced and the counters are large and spaced enough to perfectly fill the dial. The main focus is given to the 30-minute counter at 3, larger than the two others, as being a capital indication while doing flight calculations. The vintage style is reinforced by well-chosen touches of faux-patina (indexes and hands). The best part comes via a simple omission: there is no date display, unlike most of Longines’ vintage reissue.
The case of the Longines Avigation BigEye also shares the same utilitarian look, with a combination of brushed (the entire case) and polished (small touches, such as the bezel, the crown and the pushers) stainless steel. The 41mm size is fine, with a good balance between modernity and restrained vintage style. The nice look of the case and the dial is complemented by a well-chosen light brown, slightly distressed leather strap with pin buckle.
To power this Avigation BigEye (not visible, as the case is closed by a plain caseback) is Longines proprietary chronograph movement, the Calibre L688. While vaguely based on the 7750 (highly modified and enlarged), this automatic movement now features a column-wheel architecture instead of a cam and boasts a longer power reserve, with 54h of energy available when fully wound.
Overall, the new Longines Avigation BigEye offers quite a lot to the eye and even rewards mechanics’ lovers, all of that for a decent price of 2530 Euros. Available as of now at retailers.
Technical Specifications – Longines Avigation BigEye
- Case: 41mm diameter – stainless steel, brushed and polished – domed sapphire crystal on the dial side – steel back – 30m water resistant
- Movement: Longines L688.2 (ETA Valgranges A08.L01) – self-winding – 4Hz frequency – 24 jewels – 54h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds (at 9), chronograph with central second, oversized 30-min counter (at 3), 12-hour counter (at 6)
- Strap: light brown calf leather strap with steel pin buckle
- Reference: L2.8220.127.116.11/4
- Price: 2350 Euros
- Availability: September 2017