Longines is a brand that dedicates constant attention to its large collection of historic pieces, and the Heritage Military is a good example of their skill in creating convincing new editions of memorable timepieces. It could be described as a pilot’s watch, though it doesn’t have much in common with the usual Type A B-Uhr genre that generally comes to mind when talking about pilot’s watches. But it is based on a watch that Longines supplied to the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, the 6B/159 Ref. 4830.
The original was very small at just 32 mm, while the 2019 edition is 38.5 mm in diameter and 11.7 mm thick, a moderate size that will suit just about all wrists.
The crown is large, a throwback to when aviators needed to set the time or wind the watch while wearing gloves. The dial is cream-coloured with a very convincing faux patina creating an authentic antique look. Its absolute simplicity is enhanced by the absence of a date window – as per the original – and the solid caseback. Inside, the modern calibre offers the added convenience of a self-winding movement.
The dial is an important part of this watch, a silvery, creamy surface that has been given an antique appearance by spraying it with fine black droplets. This is very effective and makes each watch unique, as the process is performed by hand. It’s open to debate, of course. What will this artificially-aged watch look like 80 years from now? Wouldn’t it have been better to recreate the watch with its period characteristics but as if it were completely new, so that it ages naturally over the decades? But these are minor quibbles. Longines have brilliantly executed the dial, maintaining its simplicity, with no extra texts, just the brand name, and Swiss made at the bottom. Compare this watch to the previous Longines Heritage Military, in which the dial is really marred by the addition of the date window.
Case and strap
The case looks very similar to the original, in steel, with a steel caseback. The strap in greenish aged leather is very effective, and the watch is supplied with a green Nato strap as well. As per the original, the lugs are not drilled, which makes changing the strap slightly more difficult, but no real problem, particularly as Longines provide a strap replacement tool that makes it easier and prevents any risk of scratching the case.
The Longines Heritage Military is powered by the ETA A31.L01, an automatic movement that runs at 25,200 vibrations per hour, 7 beats per second, 3.5 Hertz. It provides a power reserve of 64 hours.
Longines Heritage Military, price and reference
The Longines Heritage Military is reference L2.8126.96.36.199, and it costs €1,830 inclusive of tax. Considering that Longines is a Swiss brand, and comparing the watch with other Swiss-made pilot’s watches, the price is very attractive. More information from https://www.longines.com