At last, with the Spirit, Longines have given us a classic pilot’s watch. The three-hand watch (time and date) is available in a number of versions, with choice of case sizes, black, white or blue dial, leather strap or steel bracelet, and standard or prestige packages. Prices start from just over €2,000.
At 40 or 42 mm in diameter it is wearable by just about everybody. The matt black dial provides an effective backdrop for the applied numerals and diamond-shaped indices, with a nice chapter ring subdivided into seconds and fifths of seconds. The other texts on the dial comprise the brand name, the words Automatic and Chronometer, and a row of five stars (a Longines indication of high quality). The numerals have a modernized vintage look, likewise the date numerals.
The date window at 3 o’clock comes as no surprise considering that, during interviews, the ex-Longines CEO Walter von Känel said that a watch much have a date window to be successful on all markets. The date numerals are in a sort of vintage beige colour that differs from the standard white of the dial markings.
Everyone has their own opinion regarding calendar windows on pilot’s watches, but there’s no doubt that in the Spirit, Longines have been careful to make a pilot’s watch that recalls the Flieger look without getting too close. So, for example, there is no reference triangle at 12 o’clock. But the crown is prominent and in part conical, and this is a powerful evocation of the pilot’s watch tradition.
The applied numerals and indices add extra interest to the dial, but they are not typical of the classic pilot’s watch in which all indications were printed or painted directly. I like the perfect length of the hands, with the minute hand referencing the respective scale, and the diamond tip on the second-hand exactly matching the diamond-shaped indices.
The Swiss Super-Luminova is applied on the hands, numerals and indices. I don’t think it is applied to the diamond on the second hand. It would have been a nice touch, a way of showing you that the watch is still running when you pick it up in the dark.
The case has a water resistance of 10 bars that makes it a perfect all-round, all-weather watch, with a solid caseback and a screw-in crown. The automatic movement is chronometer-certified by COSC. It runs at 25,200 vibrations per hour, which corresponds to 7 alternations per second or 3.5 Hertz. The Longines L888.4 calibre (made by ETA as the ETA A31.L11, descending from the ETA 2892-A2) has a monocrystalline silicon balance spring, and a power reserve of 64 hours. ETA makes this movement exclusively for Longines, and it was introduced in 2017 in the brand’s Record collection.
The steel caseback is a perfect match for the watch, no-nonsense, with 6 tough-looking screws, all the usual information on material, water resistance, collection and serial numbers, and of course the winged hour-glass logo on a stylized globe. The name of the collection – which comprises a chronograph as well – is probably a reference to the Spirit of St. Louis aircraft which features in Longines’ history.
Longines Spirit price
The Longines Spirit in the 40 mm version costs €2,050, £1,750, $2,150. The 42 mm version costs a bit more, €2,160, £1,820, $2,250. A prestige edition is available with interchangeable straps comprising a stainless steel bracelet, a leather strap, and a NATO strap. There is quite a lot of competition for this type of watch, with a number of good mechanical pilot’s watches from €745. For higher-end watches, take a look at this post of pilots’s watches from €2,000.