Longines’ highly successful Heritage collection welcomes another golden oldie. The latest model reporting for duty in the Heritage collection is the 5774 model created by Longines exclusively for the French Navy in 1947, designed for shallow diving missions. The Heritage Military Marine Nationale captures the look and feel of the original Longines 5774 convincingly, underscored by the simple, legible dial and no-frills, robust nature of the piece. Slightly larger in size than the original to cater to contemporary tastes, the re-edition is not a 1:1 replica, but it’s pretty close.
Heritage Collection – The real deal
The popularity of vintage-inspired watches shows no signs of abating, and countless brands have jumped on the bandwagon. Longines has an entire collection dedicated to this genre and with its long history (founded in 1832) has no shortage of historic models to inspire recreations. Taking a stroll through the Heritage collection – with dozens visible at the brand’s museum – is like walking down memory lane with reissues of models celebrating the dawn of aviation (Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch) to pre-war, war, inter-war and even post-war military references. Recent releases of golden oldies include the Avigation Type A-7 1935, the Avigation BigEye Chronograph, the interwar Heritage Military 1938, the RAF re-edition and even two-tone models like this winning Classic Tuxedo Chronograph.
Specs of the original 5774
The original 5774 came in a robust 33.5mm x 13mm stainless steel case and was fitted with the rugged manual-winding 12.68N calibre, a movement seen across the board on Longines’ military and civilian pieces of the 1940s and 1950s. The six-notched caseback of these naval-issue watches was identified with the letters M.N. for Marine Nationale along with its issue number, which was also engraved inside one of the lugs. However, the real identity kit of the 5774 Marine Nationale is the inscription “Longines FAB. SUISSE” on the dial.
According to WatchProSite, the FAB. SUISSE (Fabriquée en Suisse, for Swiss Made) on the dial of the 5774’s was mandatory to ensure that consumers would not be misled into believing that the watch (with its French-sounding name) had been produced in France: “It was prohibited to import into France any product whose brand, name, sign or mark could mislead the consumer in the sense that it could be understood as having been produced in France whereas it was not the case.”
Other salient features of the original were the heat-blued hands and the use of luminescent radium on the hands to enhance legibility in the dark. Although it is hard to find any accurate mention of the water-resistance of the original, the fact that it was commissioned by the French Navy means that it was obviously a solid, waterproof watch; a depth rating of 30 metres would have been more than sufficient for shallow diving missions.
The Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale
It’s evident that a 33.5mm case is way too small for today’s standards, and Longines has increased the case size by 5mm to a more contemporary 38.5mm diameter. Instead of going for a 40mm sports watch size that would ruin its vintage appeal, Longines has made a prudent choice by keeping the watch rather small. Comparing the watches side by side, you can appreciate the similarities of case construction: the double-stepped bezel, the long tapered lugs, and even the large crown with its rounded top are all faithful to the original. Like its ancestor, the crown has no guards, and the case is water-resistant to depths of 30 metres.
The sandblasted golden-beige dial is particularly attractive and reveals a slightly grained, pockmarked surface to suggest natural ageing – something that was already used in the Heritage Military RAF Re-Edition. Like the speckled surface of an ostrich’s egg, the warm beige background hosts the highly visible Arabic hour numerals of the original as well as the chapter ring for the min/sec indications, also picked out with brown Arabic numerals and clearly defined intervals. The brown Super-LumiNova (fauxtina) applied to the syringe-style, blued-steel hands and numerals is also spot on and imitates the radium of the original. Another aspect that Longines is particularly proud of is the incorporation of a faithful replica of the 5774 counterweight on the seconds hand.
Powering the watch is calibre L888.5. Based on a revised ETA 2892, this automatic movement with anti-magnetic silicon balance spring is made specifically for Longines by Swatch Group’s movement branch ETA with several noticeable upgrades. The frequency is of 25,200vph (not 28,800vph as in the regular ETA 2892), the power reserve is bumped up from 42 hours to 64 hours and, in the case of this model, the date function is suppressed.
The Military Marine Nationale is a convincing and accessible recreation of the robust 5774 military-issue watch. In fact, it is so convincing that at times it looks as though it is an original 5774 in pristine condition. It’s the kind of watch somebody might have found in their great grandfather’s safe; a mint-condition model that had never been used and had aged gently over the years. Obviously, the dimensions and movement are in tune with today’s requirements, but there is one aspect that Longines should have considered updating: the water-resistance. I respect the faithful rendition and the attention to detail, but 30m water-resistance for today’s standards is pretty shallow.
For the finishing vintage touch, the Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale (ref. L2.8126.96.36.199) comes on a smooth Cognac-colour leather strap, closed by a steel pin buckle. The price of the watch is EUR 1,920 and it is now available from retailers and from the brand’s website.
More information at longines.com.