In an effort to reign in the past while continuing to offer pieces that catch the eye of modern watch buyers, Longines has built up a legitimate offering through their Heritage Collection. Whether you’re looking for a diver or a Weems, there are quite a few choices that seem to be placed above the usual options you have when looking at the brand. Dive watches are popular. No shocker there. Vintage divers? Even more so. When a brand can breathe life into a vintage design and make it appealing to modern tastes, people notice. The Longines Heritage Diver is a superbly retro option for those seeking something a little outside the lines of popular choices while still getting a solid timekeeper.
When you first look at this watch you think, “Yep, this is a reissue.” Well, yes and no. Longines based this model off of the Valjoux 72/Longines 30CH chronograph. Those watches had three sub-dials and here it has been reigned in with a cleaner, two-sub-dial face. When you take into account the numerous models that countless brands have altered and morphed throughout the years it is nice to see a brand take an older design and touch it up while retaining the feel of the original. Like I said, this isn’t a pound-for-pound remake of an earlier model but there is enough here to let you know its roots, not only when looking at it but when wearing it on a daily basis like I did.
If I ask someone about Longines dive watches, they may mention the Hydroquest. If they are really a fan of the brand they may mention the Heritage or Legend divers. While there has been quite a lot written already about the Legend Diver, I’d like to submit the Heritage Diver Chronograph for consideration. It is unique not only in case shape, but design as well. Longines produces both a three-hand version and a chronograph which I cover here. Honestly, I would have to say I prefer the chronograph anyways. It has just the right amount of old-school vibe crossed with a legit sense of durability, and there wouldn’t be any reason this watch could not become your daily-diver.
The stainless steel case measures in at 43mm and, with its cushion shape, fits nicely on an average-sized wrist like mine. The sapphire is anti-reflective treated and sits flush with the case, which has a nice solid feel to it. The design is a screw-down case back so don’t expect any pretty scenery here, but for a dive watch this is a non-issue. The crown is screw-in as well, as is the crown for the internal rotating bezel. This definitely makes it harder to adjust on the fly, but with its 300-meter water-resistance the Longines Heritage Diver Chronograph is ISO 6425 rated.
Some might argue that having one more crown to worry about water-proofing only leads to one more area for something to go wrong, and while that may be true, here you have the added benefit of not being able to knock around the bezel by accident should you decide to take this baby deep-sea diving. I took it out to a lake several times, and though I wasn’t ultra-deep, I had no problems.
Speaking of all of this diving business, the absolute first thing you will notice when handling this watch is the strap. It is rubber and is sized very large to accommodate diving suits and other gear but has the ability to be cut down to size for proper adjustment. The rubber strap is great but this really feels like one that I would quickly attach a NATO to for maximum comfort. It is a dive watch, after all, and for me, it just cries out for a good NATO. The hands and indexes receive a generous coating of Super-LumiNova, and I had no trouble with night-time visibility. The dial is, of course, rather retro-looking but it works here and doesn’t feel forced as some reissues do. The color scheme is instantly ’70s and is something to consider when deciding whether or not this is the watch for you. Personally, I like to wear something a little different, so I found the red and tan touches to be a plus here.
The movement is a Longines L651, which is an ETA 2892-2. The originals were powered by Valjoux Cal. 72, and while that is certainly hard to contend with, the L651 is no doubt a solid and reliable choice for this occasion. Beating at 28,800vbh, the L651 allows a 42-hour power reserve and should provide years of great use. The chronograph feature is certainly nice to have and worked like a charm. The pushers are a little mushy but still get the job done and at no point did I feel like I had a “value watch.” I feel that this Longines Heritage Diver Chronograph could carry its weight against several pieces a little above its price range.
A lot of people who are just on the cusp of really getting into watches come across the Longines brand, and I often hear comments that echo the sentiment that, yes, Longines can be sequestered into the “value” zone for Swiss watches but that for the price, they offer an awesome product with consistency. I am a big proponent of telling people that you can’t always know which piece is right for you until you try it on. It makes all the difference in the world. I have to admit that the Longines Heritage Diver Chronograph is one of those pieces that, had I not handled it and given it a chance, I may have just overlooked. As part of Heritage Collection, though, it stands out as something unique and different that feels a little more upscale than the Longines core collection. The Heritage Collection offers a lot of really interesting pieces like the Lindbergh Hour Angle and the Weems, so the Longines Heritage Diver Chronograph fits nicely into the line.
The Longines Heritage Diver Chronograph Ref. L2.7126.96.36.199 represents a good option for someone looking for something other than your average diver. If you like a little bit of flair on your wrist then this piece is definitely worth a second look. There are some great retro-divers around recently such as the Oris Divers Sixty Five for a bit less money, or the Tudor Heritage Black Bay if you feel like spending a little more. At the end of the day though, the Longines offers a great watch for the money. Pricing is $3,750. longines.com
>Model: Heritage Diver Chronograph
>Would reviewer personally wear it: For sure.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone that’s ok with an ETA-powered diver and wants something a little out of the ordinary and retro.
>Best characteristic of watch: The vintage styling.
>Worst characteristic of watch: The strap. You’re going to have to cut it to size, and even then you’ll probably want to swap it out for a NATO.