If you want to dip your toe into the world of sophisticated complications, it usually comes at a price. A tourbillon, for example, can easily add CHF 20,000 or more to the price of a watch. The Longines Master Collection has been around since 2005 and serves as a contemporary alternative to its revered Heritage Collection (with more traditional designs). The Master Collection has a wide variety of complications, from power reserve displays to calendar chronographs with moon phase and more, but these new models are the first for Longines to have an annual calendar. The Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar not only offers a more sophisticated calendar complication than the norm but does so at an impressively affordable price.
What exactly is an annual calendar? Well, there are several ways for a mechanical watch to display calendar information. First is a date complication, or a simple numerical day of the month. Then there’s a day-date complication that displays both days of the week and date. A triple-date complication adds the month to it. Yet, all of them need to be manually adjusted if the current month is shorter than 31 days. There are two advanced types of these complications that self-adjust to prevent users from having to manually compensate for irregular days of the month. The most sophisticated of these two is a perpetual calendar, which adjusts for irregular days of the months (including February) and leap years. Manual adjustments are only necessary once per century when a leap year isn’t used. Finally, there’s the intermediate (but already very satisfying) annual calendar.
The annual calendar complication on the Longines doesn’t have to be adjusted for calendar days but does need to be reset once a year at the end of February (hence “annual calendar”). The rest of the year, the calendar function will automatically adjust to the months with 30 or 31 days. Invented by Patek Philippe in 1996 (with the reference 5035), this sophisticated complication often comes at a significant cost, but at just below 2K Euros, the Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar is the most affordable entry into an annual calendar piece. You can see examples of much more expensive annual calendar watches at our Annual Calendar Buying Guide.
The Master Collection Annual Calendar comes in a series of four models. Two models have silver dials with stamped barleycorn finishes, one with large Arabic numerals and the other with diamond hour indices. A third model has a black dial, again with a stamped barleycorn finish and Roman numerals, and the fourth model has a blue dial with a sunray finish and baton hour indices. All models have the month-date annual calendar at 3 o’clock in a split window. Hands are either rhodium plated or blued steel, depending on the model. None of the dials, hands or indices has lume. Thus consider this watch more of a dress/business timepiece.
The case is stainless steel on all models with a reasonable 40mm diameter. The dials are protected by a sapphire crystal with a second sapphire crystal used for the exhibition caseback. On display is the Longines L897 calibre with 21 jewels, which is based on the ETA A31.L81 automatic. It has a comfortable 64-hour power reserve, beats at a less common 25,200vph (3.5Hz), and has hours, minutes, central seconds and a month-date annual calendar complication. The movement is simply decorated with a modified rotor with Côtes de Genève and perlage on the bridges. Strap options include a stainless steel bracelet or black, brown or blue alligator strap with a folding safety clasp.
The Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar models are simple and understated but mask a sophistication that’s unheard of at this price point. Watch enthusiasts can now strap an advanced annual calendar complication to their wrists without breaking the bank, and at only EUR 1,960, CHF 2,110 or USD 2,425, this might just be the bargain of the year. More details on longines.com.