Walter von Känel, born in 1941 and president of Longines since 1988, doesn’t have a computer in his office. He doesn’t have a smartphone. But he knows everyone in his company, and through his team of assistants, he knows every model in the vast Longines collection. More importantly, he knows how many are sold, and which are the best sellers – the three-hand watches with date and silvered dial that don’t strike you as being exceptional yet represent the backbone of sales.
So if Mr von Känel introduces an automatic watch for women with silvered dial, diamonds on the bezel and as hour markers, at a price slightly above Longines’ sweet point of from 900 to 3,000 Swiss francs – the area in which Longines leads the world – there must be a good reason. Part of it is the Longines 185th anniversary this year, 2017. But also a new movement by ETA, L592.4 (ETA A20.L11), self-winding with a single-crystal silicon balance spring, with chronometer certification. This movement and its close relatives of different sizes are used in all of the new Record collection, which includes this watch, L2.322.214.171.124, a 30 mm piece, and a whole series of watches ranging from 28 mm to 40 mm, with different dial designs for men and women.
This piece has a white mother-of-pearl dial set with 13 diamond indices. The case is in steel set with gemstones – 60 Top Wesselton diamonds, for a total of 0.504 carats – and the watch has a stainless steel bracelet. Water resistance is the standard 3 bar, 30 metres.
Silicon balance spring
The silicon balance spring offers some important advantages with respect to steel. It is light, inoxidizable, and unaffected by variations in temperature, pressure and magnetic fields. This helps the watch achieve its chronometer certification. The only disadvantage of silicon is that it is a brittle material and so should something break, it has to be replaced. That’s why some watchmakers prefer to use more traditional metal alloys for their balance springs, because whatever happens, they can always be repaired. The balance runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz, and the movement has a power reserve of 40 hours. The movement can be viewed through the sapphire caseback.
The Longines Record L2.3126.96.36.199 costs €4,370. Hats off to Longines for investing in a mechanical watch for women, combining the latest in movement-making technology and feminine grace.