Longines has done a good job at playing the heritage game in recently years, effectively leveraging its history to produce fantastic, vintage-inspired pieces through its heritage line. Watches like the beloved Legend Diver, the Column-Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph, and the recent Longines Railroad. Now, Longines is tapping into that history again to bring back a ‘30s chronograph made explicitly for the US Army air corps.
Longines first re-issued this watch back in 2012, though that initial offering featured a dressier black dial housed within a whopping 49mm case (as a point of comparison, the historical piece measures 51mm in diameter).
For the 2016 edition, Longines has sensibly scaled the watch down to 41mm, making it much more manageable without actually impacting the watch’s presence. And boy, has it got some presence. The white lacquer dial designed to mimic porcelain really pops. The blocky typeface of the numerals—featuring a late 19th/early 20th century design—pulls the eye, as do the dramatic steel blued cathedral hands. Furthermore, the honey-toned markers–though often much maligned because the color apes vintage lume (radium in this case)–offer an attractive contrast to the rest of the dial, playing off the stark white and blue. The two-register layout is a welcome touch, and true to the original. There’s also a date window at six, but thankfully it’s integrated into the overall design so it doesn’t detract too much from the dial.
Of course, the most interesting aspect of the design is the askew dial, rotated 40-degrees clockwise. This is also true to the historical model, which was designed to be worn on the inside of the wrist and featured this same orientation to allow pilots to read the time at an angle. One might think that day-to-day this would complicate time-telling, but it’s rather intuitive. The crown/pusher, designed to be used even while the watch is worn, is positioned at 12 here, which would be roughly two o’clock on a traditional watch.
Powering the Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935 is the L788.2 caliber, a modified ETA 7750 that features a column wheel—a rather complicated in-house upgrade—and a 54-hour power reserve. What makes this movement especially unique is that it has been modified to be a mono pusher with the chronograph button integrated directly into the crown to start, stop and reset the complication.
The Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935 comes on a brown alligator strap and retails for $3,500, so there’s a significant drop in price from the previous iteration—something that should make this watch more appealing to potential customers. It is available this November from Longines retailers and boutiques.