You could say that Longines is becoming specialized in monopusher chronographs. The Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935 is a variant on a chronograph already in the collection, featuring the crown-wheel movement developed exclusively for Longines by ETA, the movement constructing company that, like Longines, is now part of Swatch Group. Avigation Type A-7 has a classic military appearance, and its unusual slewed-dial format gives it some interesting practical merits quite apart from the heritage factor. The numerals and hands are characteristic of the early pilot’s watches style.
This watch is possibly a preview to 2017, a year that could have a powerful aviation theme for Longines. 2017 is the 90th anniversary of Lindbergh’s first solo non-stop Atlantic crossing. After this flight, he sketched a technical watch which Longines then produced, the Lindbergh Hour Angle watch. We’ll probably see a new release of this piece at Baselworld 2017.
For the moment, the Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935 is in a 41mm steel case, solid caseback, water resistance 3 bar/30 metres, with a brown alligator strap with pin buckle. Case thickness is not specified, but it looks like around 14 mm, so fairly thick on the wrist. The dial and crown are rotated by 40° right, reflecting specifications from the U.S. military in 1935. The slewed dial enabled the watch to be worn on the inside of the wrist, and, with the hands on the control column of an aircraft, the dial was perfectly vertical and aligned with the cockpit instruments. Today, a watch like this, worn normally, is perfect for someone using a computer, or with his hands on the steering wheel. The crown also has a convenient position, ready for operating the chronograph using the pusher. Personally I think that this is a very practical, unobtrusive and user-friendly chronograph format, ideal for recording events like the time required for a run, a cycle ride, an operation in the office, cooking times and so forth.
Dial and movement
The dial is brimming with period feel, with the chunky Art Deco-type numerals, and the blued steel hour and minute hands with faceted beige-coloured SuperLuminova. The dial is very practical, with small seconds and date at 6 o’clock, chronograph minutes counter at 12 o’clock, and a long blue chronograph seconds hand that extends right across the dial to the seconds scale with fifth-of-second divisions.
Inside, the watch is powered by the self-winding L788.2 movement, made by ETA as the A08.L11, a variant of the ETA 7753 that was introduced in 2012. It has a crown wheel with horizontal clutch to control the chronograph functions, which are operated by the pusher in the crown. You cycle through the functions, start, stop, reset, by successive pushes. The crown wheel ensures a pleasant operating feel with a definite and reassuring click. I’m not sure how the date works: in other watches with this movement, there is a recessed pusher on the side of the case for rapid date change. The movement runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz, and has a power reserve of 54 hours.
Price and reference
The Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935 is reference L2.8188.8.131.52/4. Considering that this is a column-wheel chronograph, the price is very attractive, just outside the top end of Longines’ area of market domination (900-3,000 Swiss francs, the sector within which it is world-leading brand for sales). The watch costs €2,960, so approximately $3,270, or about £2,640. Montblanc makes a heritage monopusher chronograph, but it is currently available only in the red gold version and it costs ten times as much as the Longines.