Vintage looks with none of the drawbacks associated with old watches; that’s one of the factors that makes vintage-inspired watches so attractive to watch enthusiasts. And judging from what we saw at Baselworld this year, this trend seems to show little sign of slowing down. Of all the new vintage-inspired watches announced at Baselworld 2018, one of the most exciting and prettiest comes from Longines. This is your hands-on report of the new Longines Heritage Skin Diver.
The Swatch Group has identified Longines to be the brand to spearhead the group’s efforts in the mainstream/affordable segment of the watch market. And to do so, Longines has embraced the trend of vintage-inspired watches. This makes sense since Longines is one of the oldest watch companies and has a rich history on which to draw inspiration from. So which watch from Longines’ history did the Heritage Skin Diver get its inspiration from? It is in fact based on the Nautilus 6921 from the late ’50s.
Though the Heritage Skin Diver is based on the Nautilus 6921, Longines has updated its dimensions to give it a more contemporary look. The case is still made out of stainless steel but its diameter has been upsized from the 40mm of the original to 42mm. The larger case size coupled with the long straight and angled lugs means this watch wears large. Personally, I would have preferred if Longines kept the size at 40mm. After all, it is not as if the original Nautilus 6921 was 34mm or 36mm. That would probably be far too small for modern tastes.
Another distinct feature of the Longines Heritage Skin Diver is the large crown. It stays faithful to the Nautilus 6921 by eschewing crown protectors. It is an interesting look, but the size of the crown means that it can be quite easy to snag it against something. The crown screws down, of course, and water resistance is a very adequate 300m. The Heritage Skin Diver comes with three strap choices: a brown leather strap, a stainless steel mesh bracelet, or a black rubber strap.
Like the original, the Heritage Skin Diver has a prominent black dive bezel, but the modern version is made out of black PVD steel. The vintage Nautilus 6921’s bezel was made out of delicate bakelite. The markings on the bezel are done in a faux patina color and the faux patina coloration extends to the dial as well. The hour and minute markers, as well as the hour and minute hands, are all done in faux patina-colored lume, and it provides a nice contrast to the black textured dial. Longines calls this Super-LumiNova ‘Old Radium.’ The Longines logo at 12 o’clock, as well as the ‘Automatic’ wording at 6 o’clock, are also painted in matching faux patina colors. There’s no date window, which is refreshing for a modern watch and also fitting since the Nautilus 6921 also did not have a date window.
Accentuating the aged look of the dial is the watch’s heavily domed sapphire crystal, which recalls the look of acrylic crystals found on vintage watches. It’s a masterful touch that completes the look of the watch. More importantly, it creates some distortion depending on the angle which makes the dial all the more fascinating to look at.
The movement is concealed behind a stainless steel screw down caseback that has an engraving of a diver with a spear. But rest assured that it’s a competent one. Specifically, it is the Longines Caliber L888, which is a fairly heavily modified version of the ETA 2892. Its beat rate has been adjusted from 28,800bph to 25,200bph, which consequently gives it a longer power reserve of 65 hours – a significant increase over the standard ETA 2892’s 42-hour power reserve.
My only gripe about the watch is its size. Keeping it at 40mm would definitely have been much preferred. As it is, I find the case a tad too large and the lugs far too long. Nevertheless, I still find this watch extremely attractive. Longines has got the tone of the faux patina lume and markings just right, and its refreshing to see a dial that’s so clean and well proportioned. The cherry on the cake has got to be its price. The Longines Heritage Skin Diver is priced at just $2,600 regardless of your choice of strap, which, in my opinion, makes it a real bargain. longines.com