Previously few years, Longines has been fairly profitable in re-editing a few of its most superb classic watches. This contains, after all, the Legend Diver, but in addition the just lately launched Pores and skin Diver, the Avigation Large Eye or the Lindbergh watches. Altogether, these create a strong, coherent “Heritage” assortment. One of many newest additions is pushing the idea even additional… Classic-inspired and faux-ageing to the max is what you’ll get with the Longines Heritage Army, a re-edition of the RAF-issued 6B/159 watch.
Background, the RAF 6B/159 watch
Longines is a model with an vital army background and delivered watches to quite a few armed forces across the globe. There have been pilot’s watches, after all, but in addition subject items – extra related within the current context. Longines was, in reality, a part of the twelve manufacturers that manufactured watches for the British Ministry of Protection. Basically, the Soiled Dozen is a set of army watches – often known as WWW’s (Watch, Wrist, Waterproof) – that had been created for the British Army underneath the auspices of the MoD, throughout World Conflict II. This wasn’t, nonetheless, the one watch made for British forces.
A classic, 1940s RAF-issued Longines 6B/159 Ref. 4830 – Picture courtesy of A Collected Man.
One other watch made by Longines for British Royal Air Pressure Pilots (RAF) was the Longines 6B/159 Ref. 4830. Produced from 1938 till the 1960s, this straightforward Three-hand watch was introduced in a 32mm metal or chromed case with a typical 1940s design (so-called Calatrava case) and soldered spring bars. Some equally designed watches will be discovered at Omega. The RAF-issued Longines 6B/159 was outfitted with the hand-wound calibre 12.68N and featured a white/cream dial with black Arabic numerals and a railroad minute observe. Time was indicated by blued metal fingers.
A 1940s instance of the RAF-issued Longines 6B/159, from the Longines Museum.
Altogether a easy, dependable and extremely legible piece that represented an ideal instance of WWII army items. The particularity of this mannequin was that it got here with an unique light-coloured dial – most army watches had black dials with radium-painted markers. Surprisingly for a pilot’s watch, the Longines 6B/159 didn’t function luminescence.
The brand new Longines Heritage Army
What Longines has achieved with its latest Heritage Army isn’t only a vintage-inspired watch or a contemporary piece that options a number of the design parts of the RAF-issued 6B/159… it’s a true copy of the previous mannequin, with up to date proportions (and naturally, trendy mechanics and supplies). We will’t discuss resemblance anymore, it goes past that. When researching this text and looking for photographs of the previous mannequin, I stored having to ask myself… Was it the unique RAF watch I used to be taking a look at or was it the brand new mannequin? Actually, this Longines Heritage Army is impressively sensible – possibly a bit an excessive amount of, however extra on that later.
As you’ll anticipate, this new-old watch doesn’t retain the small diameter of the unique piece anymore – a 32mm diameter will surely be traditionally related, however sadly virtually unimaginable commercially talking. Nonetheless, the Longines Heritage Army depends on cheap proportions, with a case that measures “solely” 38.5mm throughout – which might have been an outsized watch in 1940 however immediately is taken into account a moderately small piece. Thickness can be cheap, at 11.7mm, leading to well-balanced proportions.
The form of the case can be extraordinarily near what was used within the RAF-issued watch, a form that’s typical to 1930s -1940s army timepieces, or what was often known as a Calatrava case, in reference to the design launched by Patek within the early 1930s, which made it to quite a few watches later, together with utilitarian field-issue items. This form is characterised by a three-part case with a central half that features the lugs and a flat bezel on prime. The Longines Heritage Army retains this design, with a brushed central “container” with brief, strong lugs with moderately sharp angles. The caseback, engraved with a number of indications, is strong metal. The big crown has a light-weight diamond design and is straightforward to function.
In contrast to the classic RAF-issued 6B/159, the Longines Heritage Army is supplied with a contemporary automated motion – and never a hand-wound calibre anymore. This actually is, together with the sapphire crystal and the elevated diameter, the key concession to modernity right here. I might have beloved to see Longines digging in ETA’s catalogue and utilizing a 2801 or a 7001, two of the hand-wound actions simply accessible inside the Swatch Group. It’s probably not a difficulty although as a result of the Calibre L619/888, based mostly on the ETA A31.L01 that equips the Heritage Army, is a really respectable engine, with a snug energy reserve of 64 hours and a frequency of 25,200 vibrations per hours. It isn’t seen by way of an irrelevant sapphire caseback – good level – and it solely shows the hours, minutes and seconds – even higher level, as there’s no date!
The principle speaking level of the Heritage Army resides in its dial and fingers. That is the place Longines was really impressed by the historic mannequin, to the purpose of recreating some “faux-ageing factors” on the dial. The bottom is a silvery-cream color with a barely greenish tone. The railroad minute observe, the big Arabic numerals, and a easy model identify – no emblem – are all printed on the dial. All of that’s traditionally related. Identical goes for the fingers, that are formed like the unique and product of blued metal. Altogether, a gorgeous dial.
We’ve seen the usage of fake patina on indexes and fingers – now a reasonably customary observe on vintage-reissued watches – to imitate the ageing course of on tritium or radium. Properly, the principle downside on the RAF-issued Longines is that the unique watch didn’t function luminescent materials… How was Longines going to provide this watch a classic really feel? The thought was to recreate the ageing course of that happens on the dial by spraying some black paint. Consequently, the dial is sprinkled with black dots. I need to say, it’s fairly convincing and does appear like an previous watch. Notice that every watch is totally different, as this spraying course of is finished by hand.
On the wrist, the watch is effectively balanced and actually fascinating. It has some presence regardless of its small diameter and the general look is fairly cool. The Longines Heritage Army is worn on a inexperienced distressed leather-based strap, which then once more provides to the vintage look of the watch – for as soon as, I need to applaud the trouble made by the model to supply a very handsome and coherent strap.
What conclusions can we attain concerning the Longines Heritage Army? Initially, this piece isn’t a case research in design innovation… It’s certainly very, very near the unique watch. So shut that that is the very purpose why it has such unbelievable allure.
When it was first introduced a 12 months in the past, I used to be very sceptical about this sprinkled dial, pondering that the “faux-ageing course of” had gone too far. However as soon as it’s strapped on the wrist, it actually works! Sure, some will suppose that it sums up the dearth of creativity just lately seen within the watch trade; however others will merely love this watch. All in all, it’s a convincing piece – for what it’s: a vintage-inspired watch. And such watches have their execs and cons.
Value and availability
The Longines Heritage Army (ref. L2.819.four.93.2) is now obtainable at retailers and is a non-limited version watch. It’s priced based on Longines’ coverage, that means a moderately accessible worth of EUR 1,860.