Amid all the trends currently sweeping the watch industry — green dials, integrated bracelets, affordable GMTs, and the like — one of the least discussed is the proliferation of prewar-inspired chronograph designs. From much-hyped newcomers like Furlan Marri to massive established brands including Tissot and Breitling, the elegant, pleasingly ornate look of ‘30s and ‘40s-era chronographs is quietly seeping back into the watch design lexicon. Longines is arguably the most enthusiastic entrant into this dark horse segment of the market, bringing its own tastefully restrained riff on the theme into the dressy Record collection for its newest release. The new Longines Record Heritage is a stunningly well-balanced love letter to the ‘40s chronograph aesthetic, complete with a COSC-certified chronometer movement and a wealth of refined touches.
At 40mm-wide and 13.8mm-thick, the stainless steel case of the Longines Record Heritage fits into vintage sizing standards better than some of its competitors on paper. That said, its not insubstantial overall thickness will likely give this design a bolder, more modern stance on the wrist than its svelte hand-wound ancestors. Overall, however, the case design does an admirable job of capturing the spirit of the era in images without directly aping any one vintage Longines reference. The lugs are long, athletic, and unchamfered in images, with polished top surfaces contrasted by strong horizontal brushing along the case sides. The rounded, polished bezel goes a substantial way towards visually softening the case design in photos, while the tall continuous curve looks to effectively break up the height of the case profile. Longines’s decision to use brightly polished oval pushers also helps to visually root the design in the ‘40s in images and also helps to differentiate the watch in a sea of circular pusher options. Around back, the brand fits the watch with a sapphire display caseback. Unfortunately, the Longines Record Heritage’s durability is decidedly vintage as well, with a subpar 30 meters of water resistance.
Longines keeps the clean, vintage-style looks of the three-hand Record line more or less intact for the Record Heritage’s dial, but adds just enough complexity in images to create something genuinely compelling. The slim, formal leaf handset is rendered in gold tone, as is the mix of applied indices and simple rounded Arabic numerals. While these bright polished elements play off the matte black dial surface well, it’s the use of gilt print for each of the Record Heritage’s various scales that truly elevates the design in images. The broad outer tachymeter scale, tightly packaged seconds track, and open, airy subdial scales all work in harmony to preserve a sense of balanced visual weight distribution while imbuing the design with a sort of vintage warmth that attempts at faux patina often miss. The brand’s decision to eschew a date display here helps to keep the Record Heritage from feeling crowded or overcomplicated in images, as well.
Although ultimately based on an ETA movement, the L895.4 automatic chronograph movement inside the Longines Record Heritage is a uniquely modified variant produced exclusively for Longines. These modifications include a suite of material improvements, most notably a silicon balance spring, and a robust 59-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. In terms of decoration, the L895.4 is simply but attractively appointed in images, with perlage across the bridges contrasted by a custom cutout winding rotor emblazoned with Côtes de Genève and a gold-inlaid engraved signature. Longines completes the watch with a deployant strap in warm saddle-tan leather.
As much of the watch industry slowly turns to deliver variations on the prewar chronograph look, the new Longines Record Heritage proves the brand is still one of the masters of the style. The Longines Record Heritage is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the Longines Record Heritage stands at $3,000 USD as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.