Introduced earlier this year as a full range of watches, the Longines Spirit is probably one of the brand’s most important new collections in recent years. Entirely new for the winged hourglass, equipped with high-end features, clearly focused on precision and reliability, the Spirit is a classic pilot’s watch that combines old-school design cues with a contemporary execution. Available in multiple editions, with several colours, sizes and movements, today we look at what could well become the bestseller: the Longines Spirit 40mm, a time-and-date watch with a black dial.
A classic concept
Longines is one of the Swiss watch brands with the richest history. Founded in 1832 in Saint-Imier in the Swiss Jura, Longines became renowned for timing sports events thanks to its early chronograph pocket watches. This reputation for reliable and precise timing instruments would become the brand’s hallmark and with the advent of military and civilian aviation, and thus the need for pilots to rely on precise timekeeping instruments, the brand would become one of the most coveted manufacturers for pioneering aviators. Charles Lindbergh is the most illustrious name associated with Longines – he achieved the first non-stop transatlantic solo flight in 1927 with a Longines watch to time his record. However, more explorers and pilots, pioneers of their own kind, also worn Longines watches, such as Amelia Earhart or Howard Hughes. The Spirit collection pays tribute to this rich history of aviation watches.
Looking at the current collection offered by Longines, you’ll notice that pilot’s watches are still a major focus for the brand, yet mostly as stand-alone models in the Heritage collection. Think about the Avigation watches, such as the BigEye or the A-7 Chronograph. There’s also the Longines Heritage Military, inspired by RAF-issued watches. And of course, there are the Hour Angle watches, modelled after the pieces worn by Lindbergh. But what we’re looking at today with the Spirit collection is different.
Longines’ new collection is not a proper vintage re-edition and doesn’t fit into the Heritage collection. Certainly, it relies on classic codes of the genre, with traditional design cues found on early observation watches; however, it hasn’t been designed using an existing vintage watch. To make it simple, it is a classic pilot’s collection with modern features and proportions, which falls into the trend for vintage-inspired watches without being a “heritage” model. And as such, it doesn’t target the same potential customers. It isn’t a niche watch for seasoned collectors, but a collection for a broader audience who wants a daily-oriented model with a cool flair, yet with superior perceived quality and a capacity to resist modern life.
The Longines Spirit 40mm
As mentioned, Longines launched the Spirit as a full collection, with three models – 40mm time-and-date, 42mm time-and-date, 42mm chronograph – all available in three different styles – matte black, sunray blue, grained silver – and with multiple strap and bracelet options. We’re talking about 24 references. Today, we chose to focus on one specific model, the 40mm time-and-date Spirit with a black dial and leather strap – reference L3.810.4.53.0. Why this specific watch? Because we believe it will be the bestseller and, in our opinion, this represents the most balanced and most attractive watch in the collection (and the most accessible too).
While the 42mm edition will certainly appeal to those attracted by slightly oversized watches (which can make sense in a pilot’s watch context), we believe the 40mm offers superior versatility and comfort, and that on most wrists – something we’ve experienced in our video comparing the two models. As a modern and daily-oriented watch, the Longines Spirit 40mm is a great compromise between presence, comfort, classic looks and elegance – because, indeed, the Spirit has a slightly elegant vocation too. Combined with the smooth leather strap, the result is classic, casual and makes for a very balanced watch.
The case of the Longines Spirit has been designed with great attention to detail. Not only it is a capable sports watch, with a screw-down crown and a 100m water-resistance, but this has been combined with a refined execution. The case is mostly brushed with several striking polished bevels, on the periphery of the bezel and on the sides of the lugs, animating the look and giving a nice touch of elegance. This tones down the instrumental look usually found on rugged pilot’s watches, making this watch more suitable for daily use.
Looking at the dial, there can be no doubts regarding the aviation inspiration. The dial is built on two levels. The central part is flat and features large applied numerals and highly-contrasted central hands. There’s also a raised outer flange with a minute track, adding a sense of depth. You’ll notice that this outer minuterie is beautifully designed, as it features cut out areas to leave the diamond-shaped markers visible. Once again, lots of details to animate this watch.
The present edition, with its matte black dial, is the most “old-school” of the lot. Both the blue and silver editions are more modern and have a more luxurious appeal. But this classism is also what contributes to the charm and versatility of this black dial edition of the Longines Spirit 40mm. If not really original, it adds timelessness and makes it a no-brainer option for someone who will wear this watch regularly and for years to come. Another advantage of the 40mm version is the dial’s layout. One difference between this model and the 42mm Spirit time-and-date is the position of the date window, and the presence or not of a partial 3 numeral. To us, the 40mm version, without the cut-off numeral looks more balanced. And regarding the presence of the date itself, it makes more sense in this context than it does on a Heritage watch.
An important detail on the dial of this Longines Spirit 40mm and all other watches in the collection is the presence of a 5-star logo applied at 6 o’clock. This is a reference to Longines’ past, as these 5 stars used to indicate higher grade movements and chronometer capacities. And of course, knowing that, the new Longines Spirit watches are all chronometer-certified.
Under the steel caseback with the winged hourglass is the automatic calibre L888.4, an upgraded proprietary movement based on the well-known ETA 2892 architecture. Not only is its precision certified by COSC, but it also features an anti-magnetic silicon hairspring and an improved power reserve of 64 hours. Quite an advantage over the competition which also allows Longines to offer a 5-year warranty.
Availability & price
The Longines Spirit 40mm (and all other watches from the collection) is now available from retailers and via Longines’ online boutique. The present model on a leather strap is priced at EUR 2,020 – the version on stainless steel bracelet has the same price.
More details and orders at www.longines.com.