When presented in mid-2020, the Longines Spirit collection made quite an impact, with its well-balanced blend of vintage design, daily versatility, refined execution, precise movements and great content/price ratio. There was, on paper, a lot to be loved in the Spirit time-and-date model. Not everything is perfect though, or at least, not everything was what I expected when seeing the watches in the metal. Lugs that were too long, a date window that I’d love to see somewhere else on the dial… But the presentation recently of a new mid-size, Longines Spirit 37mm version is about (at least in my books) to change things. Clearly, I feel that Longines has a winning combination here, for every gender, every wrist. The typical sweet-spot-watch.
To be fair, the following article is highly personal. It’s only my own take on things, and of course, you’ll be free to disagree. See, the Longines Spirit time-and-date has originally been released in 40mm and 42mm. All fine apparently as it gave potential owners some choices, yet the watches were, in my opinion, too large on the wrist, and the date position somehow bothered me. Yet, a couple of weeks ago, the brand launched the Longines Spirit 37mm. Somehow advertised as a feminine option (all lifestyle images were showing the watch worn by women), we thought there was something going on here, something that could easily become the G.O.A.T Spirit model. And to demonstrate that the new, mid-size model is, in my opinion, a perfect watch for men, I even asked our 2-meter high editor Robin to be our model. And believe me, it truly looks good on the wrist! But more on the reason why in a bit.
The Longines Spirit 37mm, the facts
With this 37mm edition, Longines is basically enlarging the collection but not changing a bit the overall spirit (pun intended). The basics of the collection have been kept alive. As a reminder, the Longines Spirit, launched in mid-2020, is not a hardcore, heritage-oriented model, such as the Legend Diver, the Tuxedo Chronograph or the Marine Nationale. These are faithful reproductions of original models, modelled after past existing watches found in the brand’s (very rich) museum. Except for slightly enlarged cases, modern materials and contemporary movements, these watches are meant to be inspired by the past, and not to evoke the past.
The Longines Spirit falls into a different category. It’s a tribute to the brand’s past, to the pioneering days of aviation and aviation-related watches, to the great persons who wore them, but it has been designed from scratch as a new collection. Surely, some elements are vintage-inspired, some design cues are inevitable references to glorious watches of the heritage, but nothing in the Spirit was actually existing before. It’s a creation, an evocation of the past, a watch with a retro feel, but also a perfectly fine daily-beater meant to attract more consensual clients than the hardcore heritage collection. It might be a bit of a stretch, but that’s how the Spirit differentiate itself from the Heritage collection. Not of crucial importance anyway.
Over the past two years, the brand has been releasing a variety of models into the Spirit range. In addition to the silver, black and blue inaugural steel models – available in time-and-date 40 or 42, and with chronograph – the brand added a rather appealing green edition (only in time-and-date), as well as a compelling titanium model without date – which we believed would be the best of the collection. And then, a couple of weeks ago, came the Spirit 37mm, a watch with all the attributes of the inaugural models, sharing the same movement and specifications, the same design, (almost) the same colours but just in a smaller package. And, for a rather obscure vision (at least to us, as it might make sense commercially), the collection was mostly advertised as a women’s alternative. But in my books, 37mm is still very much wearable by men.
What we have here is a watch that is made with great attention to detail. The case, measuring a reasonable 37mm diameter, has a height of 11.7mm – which is marginally thinner than the 40mm model, at 12mm. With this watch, you’ll find back a very nicely executed case, with a slightly bulky feel overall, bringing a certain robustness that isn’t to disappoint me. The case shows a succession of brushed surfaces (either straight on the sides or circular on the top) and wide polished accents, running alongside the lugs and mid-case, and on the periphery of the bezel. Not only do these finishings bring dynamism to the watch, but they also elevate the perceived quality to a pretty high level. In all fairness, the case of the Longines Spirit 37mm (and all Spirit models for that matter) are really bringing a low-key luxury feel that you won’t find often in the price category.
Just like previous editions, the Spirit 37mm is fairly well equipped. The sapphire crystal on top is slightly domed and coated with multiple layers of anti-reflective treatment, the crown (which we can now attest having a diamond shape) screws down, the caseback is closed by 6 screws and the watch has a 100m water-resistance. Altogether, the Spirit was and still is a compelling package and there’s not much that could be added or nothing that objectively could disappoint. Design is a personal question of course, but putting this out of the equation, there’s not much to regret here.
For obvious reasons, in order to make a point on the man-compliance of this mid-size version, we chose the most classic, most versatile, most discreet of the 3 possible colours; matte black. Other available dials are a sunray-brushed blue and a new champagne colour. The dial is as detailed and well-executed as the case. It’s neat, quite traditional at first, but still packed with small, well-thought elements to elevate the watch to a higher standard. The matte black base of this edition is both versatile and highly practical on a daily basis since it will fly under the radar, will be able to be matched with almost all attires and legibility is great on most occasions.
We here find back the same applied, luminous Arabic numerals as the rest of the collection. These are nicely defined, sharp and clear, with a neat finishing. Next to them are small diamond-shaped markers and, one of the nicest things on this watch, the angled inner flange surrounding the dial has been shaped to it surrounds the markers. A nice detail that again adds to the feeling of quality. The hands are following the style of the applied markers, polished metal on the outside, luminous material on this inside. They are large enough, not too wide either so the watch retains a certain discreet elegance. At both 12 and 6 o’clock, you’ll find a couple of applied logos. First is the classic Longines winged hourglass logo (created in 1889, making it the oldest active registered trademark). Second is a series of 5 stars. At Longines, this has always signified an improvement in the quality and reliability of the brand’s movements. Here, it is an indication of the chronometer certification of the automatic engine inside. Last but not least, there’s a new date window, positioned at 6 o’clock… More on that later.
As for the strap or bracelet, you’ll have the choice between a sporty, casual stainless steel bracelet with brushed surfaces and polished accents. It’s closed by a folding clasp but doesn’t feature micro-adjustment. In my opinion, the leather strap options suit this model better, specifically this compact Longines Spirit 37mm. The black dial version is offered on a dark brown smooth calf leather strap, with off-white stitching – a classic pilot’s watch combination that always works. In addition, it features a pair of quick-release spring bars, thus you can change the strap easily and use something more in line with your own tastes. And I’m sure that the Spirit will be a great example of a strap-monster-watch. Put it on a NATO, and you’ll have a cool weekend, adventure watch. Use a light brown or taupe nubuck, and it’ll become elegant, discreet and slightly vintage…
Inside the case, and in a typical Longines manner, is the same movement as before. Indeed, even if smaller, the Longines Spirit 37mm retains the same high-grade automatic Calibre L888.4 as the 40 or 42mm editions. This proprietary development over the ETA 2892 shows some upgrades on the most important areas, meaning a silicon balance spring for anti-magnetic resistance, and a reworked kinetic chain combined to a lower frequency (3.5Hz) offering an extended power reserve of 72 hours. And as said above, the movement is a certified chronometer by COSC.
Price-wise, the present edition (reference L3.410.4.53.0) is actually the entry-level model, retailing at EUR 2,020, CHF 2,000 or USD 2,150. I would not call that cheap or affordable, but knowing the level of execution of the case and dial, the overall attention to detail and the quality of the movement, it certainly is a fair price overall.
What makes the Longines Spirit 37mm such a great watch?
Before answering this question, we need to have look back at the previous “compact” model, the Longines Spirit 40mm time-and-date, which we’ve reviewed here in the exact same configuration as the 37mm in this article. On paper, a 40mm watch might be fine for most wrists, being modern and relatively compact at the same time. Typical all-rounder dimensions. Yet, there’s one thing that comes into the equation, Longines’ love for elongated lugs. We’ve said that before with the Legend Diver, and it is still true for the Spirit. Typically, a 40mm should be around 46-47mm from 12 to 6 o’clock. Yet, the 40mm Spirit measures 49.5mm from one lug to another. Overall, this gives the feeling of a watch that wears larger than its claimed diameter. Below, a steel-green model and a titanium version, both in 40mm:
The new Longines Spirit 37mm is about 46.5mm to 47mm, which is still relatively large for such a watch but makes a whole lot of difference on the wrist. Not only does it add to the overall comfort on a daily basis, but it also looks far more balanced. As you can see on the wrist of Robin here, which is about 18cm in circumference (by no means a small wrist), the 37mm Spirit still has great presence and never feels undersized. It actually looks rather brilliant if I’m honest, with a watch and strap that are around the wrist, and not on top of the wrist. To those who will say that 37mm is too small, don’t judge a book by its cover. Try both the 40mm and 37mm editions and only then make up your mind. What I can tell you is that the 37mm won’t disappoint, and it has a slightly old-fashionned charm that I personally appreaciate.
The second improvement that I can see in the 37mm is the position of the date. The 40mm was quite OK regarding the date window, positioned at 3 o’clock. Don’t get me started on the 42mm edition, with its partially cut 3 o’clock marker. Something that I personally didn’t like, at all. I though the 3 o’clock position on the 40mm was totally fine, until seeing the 37mm version, which now as a date at 6 o’clock. And yes, knowing the presence of applied logos, it surely works even better. One additional point for the mid-size Spirit – the definitive argument would have been to remove the date, but considering the way Longines has positioned this watch, the date is somehow a necessity for a large audience. If one has to make a compromise, the 6 o’clock position is the one to us.
So, all of that to say that the new Longines Spirit 37mm might well be the most achieved version in the collection, at least in my books. So, Longines, what you have here is a great example of unisex watch, well designed, well equipped, well executed, and mostly well proportioned for women, and men too.
For more details and orders, please visit longines.com.