Not many people know that Longines does not consider itself a “manufacture” but a “factory”, and encourages everybody to call it a factory. It is surprising, but it perfectly matches the spirit that commands the Maison these days: high-quality mass production. Despite having a vast collection of movements, Longines only uses ETA calibres (often adjusted to their own specifications), which makes producing tens of thousands of watches a far easier task. That is the reason why the watches most celebrated by aficionados are those in which historic references are reinterpreted. Such is the case of the Longines Skin Diver Watch, a perfect recreation of the factory’s first diver watch, born in 1959 – in the days when the company was still a manufacture.
When reinterpretations such as this one appear on the market, there are always complaints.“Why did they have to use “fauxtina”? is the classic comment. But in the case of the Longines Skin Diver Watch, the house of the winged hourglass has not actually reinterpreted but reproduced the aesthetics of the original model. In 1957 Longines launched the Nautilus Skin Diver, which is the inspiration for this new watch. The Nautilus had a 40mm diameter – really big at that time – was made of steel and was fitted with a manufacture movement. The modern version has grown up to 42mm in diameter and has upped its water-resistance to 300 metres.
However, its height is not too pronounced (13.75mm to be precise), so it won’t cause much trouble when strapped to the wrist. The unidirectional bezel has a black PVD coating that will help the watch survive everyday life. Durability is also the reason behind choosing a sapphire crystal instead of a plastic one. The triangle at 12 o’clock is now luminescent, in case someone actually takes the watch for a deep dive. The same goes for the indexes and hands.
Besides the fact that dimensions and materials have evolved – for the best, as 1960s materials and assembly were not on par with today’s standards – the modern Longines Skin Diver Watch is impressively faithful to the original model. Fonts, textures, hands, shape of the case… It could almost feel like Longines found a stock of unworn pieces and is now putting them on the market.
The other key factor that has changed is the calibre. The L888.2 is the Longines name for the ETA A31.L01, which in turn is based on the 2892. But as I said at the beginning, the movement is done exclusively for Longines, and its ticks at 25,200 vibrations per hour, which grants 64 hours of power reserve. Same as with the original watch, the movement is guarded by a solid steel back with the very familiar representation of the harpoon diver.
The Longines Legend Diver is available in three versions that only vary in strap choice: a steel Milanese bracelet with triple clasp and security pushers; a natural leather strap; or a black rubber strap. The three versions share the same price, EUR 2,480. Certainly, it is not an easy price when you have to fight in a market saturated with divers. But since the target here is watch connoisseurs who like vintage watches, the authenticity role played here by Longines weighs in favour of the diver. More information on Longines.com.