Introducing – Longines Avigation BigEye, A Vintage and Military Inspired Chronograph
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: L2.8184.108.40.206/4
- Price: 2350 Euros
- Availability: September 2017
2,350 or 2,530 Euro? In the article says one thing, in the summary another, so one it’s a typo.
Anyway… good review of an interesting piece. As mentioned the absence of a date window is a clear plus. Not yet convinced of the “big eye”, something to check live and on the wrist.
I saw the Intramatic chronology re-edition in real life. I just gotta say something’s off to my eye when watch companies supersize a vintage design 🙁
Good looking watch, those pushers look a little big.
How thick is the watch?
Too similarity with Breguet Transanlatique XX ( without the “diving” bezel) …
I like it but 3 atm these days for a sporty chronograph is just not acceptable.
Watch is 14mm thick. Just measured it.
I LOVE this chrono and it is likely my next purchase once I have the funds, the big eye design is intriguing for me and sets it apart. I love the dial layout and appreciate the mvt not being the ubiquitous 7750. NO date is a great call on this dial, I cant think of a place where it’d look ok.
Sebastien B, I totally agree.
I am just back from kicking around town after completing an errand and I went in to my fanciest Longines boutique to see what appeals. I made a beeline for the Heritage Chronograph 1940, which looks great in photographs. I was not impressed. It is very large, almost overwhelming my 7.5″ wrist and it is very thick. There is no way you’re getting a cuff over that. The case is…well it looks cheap. It has to be said. With so much bland, featureless, shiny metal it looks like a cheap watch trying to look like an expensive watch from a designer who has never actually seen an expensive watch. Column wheel movement is nice, but not if it makes you look like you are wearing a Fossil Quartz from 6 feet away. I’m just about done with Longines. It seems the only watch they can do right is the small, slim, traditional dress watch. Everything else has a noticeable design flaw. Everything else seems made on the cheap. Even the VHP quartz is big, blocky, bland. They could really learn a thing or two from Casio and I’m not joking! Compared to the Heritage Chrono, my Oceanus looks like a frigging Lange. And it was less than half the price. Also, the VHP has a bracelet with no micro-adjustment. I honestly think watch companies are trying to “educate” an entire generation of buyers into thinking bracelet watches have never fitted anyone properly.
And to make matters worse, despite there being loads of people around, the only two shops with anyone in them were Chanel and Longines!