I have a soft spot for Longines DolceVita watches — I wore my dad’s full stainless steel one on my wedding day as my “something borrowed.” Actually, let me rephrase that. I have a soft spot for Longines; my dad’s side of the family is from Saint Imier, the small Swiss village in the Jura Bernois region where Longines was founded and still remains today. I toured the Longines Museum earlier this year during my summer vacation back home and had an amazing time soaking in the brand’s impressive history. I’ve always regarded Longines as my hometown hero, and the watches remind me of my late father, who was an avid collector of them. I can’t help but smile when I see someone wearing one. So, when I was presented the opportunity to wear the new-for-2023 diamond Longines Mini DolceVita watch (ref. L126.96.36.199.6), featuring a refreshed case and new bracelet design, for a little while, I knew I was in for a treat.
Inspired by a 1927 rectangular Longines watch, the DolceVita officially debuted in 1997. Over the last two-plus decades, the DolceVita has expanded into a vast collection, offering an array of materials, sizes, dials, bracelets, and colors while always retaining its signature Art-Deco-styled rectangular case. The Mini DolceVita is the newest addition to the range, featuring softer lines and smaller steel cases that measure 21.50mm wide, 29mm high, and 6.75mm thick. I can confirm that this compact case is super comfortable and unobtrusive on the wrist. It’s what I like to call a wear-it-and-forget-it timepiece — perfect for a daily watch. Water resistance is 30m, which some may say is not enough, but I rarely need more than that day-to-day. Plus, since it runs on a highly accurate L178 quartz movement, it’s also a set-it-and-forget-it watch.
I like the curved silhouette of the case sides, which contrasts with the angular sapphire crystal that sits above the dial. I’m not shy about expressing my love for smaller watches, and while it may be unfashionable in some circles to enjoy diamonds on women’s watches, I’m a fan of them. It’s a good idea to have them as an option within a collection for those who appreciate them, too. This particular version of the Mini DolceVita does include 38 IF-VVS Top Wesselton diamonds spread across two rows framing the dial for a total of 0.456 carats. It’s a subtle sparkle, nothing too over the top, but a detail I enjoy.
The multi-toned sector dial (Longines calls it a Cosmo dial) is old-school, in a good way. There’s the silver-sunray background, the matte-white hour ring with painted Roman numerals, the railroad track, and a sunken running seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. The circular details contrast well with the rectangular dial. The blued-steel, sword-shaped hands are a nice touch, and depending on how the light hits them, they can look very blue or almost black. The dial is legible as long as there’s light; the watch has no lume.
I may have buried the lede, but the newly designed stainless steel bracelet gives this watch a lot of its personality. Comprising 198 links, the brick-like structure with five pieces across is very supple and wraps comfortably around the wrist. The polished links are shiny, and the bracelet leans into that jewelry look — almost like a built-in silver bracelet stack. The twin-trigger butterfly clasp is simple to use, and it’s engraved with Longines’ winged hourglass logo.
This is, of course, not the only Mini DolceVita model; Longines has released 11 references within this new collection, ranging in price from $1,600 to $3,950 USD. Some, like this model I have in my hands, have diamonds while others don’t. Some include the same steel bracelet while others are fitted with leather straps. There are also some colorful dial options with matching colored straps. Finally, some include a similar circular dial layout, while others have rectangular dial details.
True to its name, this Mini DolceVita is a sweet petite watch that can be enjoyed daily. Is it a new revolutionary design? No; it’s a Tank-style timepiece that’s been around for ages and falls squarely in the timeless classic genre. Some of us need those go-to staples in our wardrobe that are easy to reach for, and in terms of watches, this Mini DolceVita is an elegant and quality option. The new Longines Mini DolceVita diamond watch ref. L188.8.131.52.6 is priced at $3,950 USD, one of the two most expensive of the new line, and is available immediately. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.