With a legacy of exploration that includes names like Howard Hughes, Amelia Earhart, aviation pioneer Elinor Smith, and arctic explorer Paul-Emile Victor, Longines has a long historical connection to discovery. For 2020, the brand has tapped into this ethos to create the all new Spirit Collection, a new line of pilot watches that combine the pioneering feel of the early 20th century with a dedication to mechanical accuracy. With a lineup including both three-hand and chronograph models, the Longines Spirit Collection is a handsome and evocative addition that blends well with the brand’s core design philosophy.
The stainless steel case of the Longines Spirit Collection is available in two sizes, both a 40mm variant and a larger 42mm option. The overall design remains the same between the two, with classic wide set sports watch lugs, a narrow polished bezel, and a prominent mirror polished bevel running the length of the case from lug tip to lug tip. In keeping with the ‘40s style ethos of the overall design, the screwdown pillbox crown at 3 o’clock is pleasingly chunky and unguarded, with an ornate signed top. For chronograph variants (only available in 42mm), the crown is flanked by a pair of stout mushroom pushers, but the clean lines of the case are disrupted by an unsightly screwdown date corrector pusher at 10 o’clock. For all models in the line, the spirit of exploration in the design is backed up by a reasonably sporty 100 meters of water resistance.
Like the cases, the dials of the Longines Spirit Collection are clean and streamlined with a notable vintage flair. Each variant begins with a sharply pointed set of lumed baton hands, coupled with a red-tipped seconds with a notable lumed diamond tip. This theme of diamonds is echoed throughout the dial design, from the exaggerated sharpness of the hours and minutes hands to the diamond shaped lume plots at each hour, each nestled in an angular cutout of the outer chapter ring. These cutouts, more than just a quality added visual detail, also help to draw the eye towards the brightly polished inner edge of the chapter ring, adding a glimmering and dynamic punch to an otherwise clean and straightforward layout. The applied Arabic numerals are crisp and simple, with a slightly rounded form that further speaks to the vintage inspiration here. This layout is available in three colors, each adding its own distinctive texture. The black dial variant is kept matte, keeping the classic explorer’s watch feel close to the surface and allowing the other elements of the design to come to the fore. The silver and blue dial variants take things in a louder and occasionally less cohesive direction, including a deeply grained texture to the silver version and a radiant sunburst pattern applied to the deep royal blue models. The chronograph variants keep the design impressively well balanced, with snailed subdials, eye-catching red tipped chronograph hands, and excellent subdial spacing that helps to keep the complication from overcrowding the design. The same cannot be said for the chronograph’s 4:30 date window, which disrupts that delicate visual balance with a patch of unfortunate asymmetry.
For the Spirit Collection, Longines opts for two automatic movements, both COSC certified for chronometer grade accuracy. Three-hand models are powered by the ETA based L888.4 movement, boasting a silicon balance spring and a robust 64 hour power reserve. Meanwhile, the Longines Spirit Collection chronographs are powered by the heavily modified ETA based L688.4 movement, which uses the highly prized column wheel chronograph actuation system in addition to its own silicon balance spring, solid 28,800 bph beat rate, and a 60 hour power reserve.
Standard Longines Spirit Collection models are paired with white stitched leather straps in colors complementing the dial, with navy for the blue sunburst dial, tobacco brown with black dials, and a lighter honey brown for the silver dial variants. For buyers of the higher priced Prestige Edition, however, Longines also includes a rounded three link oyster style bracelet and a branded NATO strap, keeping this classically inspired design as versatile as possible.
With the Spirit Collection, Longines has expanded its vintage styled offerings beyond reissues of past models into the realm of new designs inspired by a classic era of watchmaking, creating a substantial range with an impressive attention to detail. The Longines Spirit Collection is expected to hit authorized retailers in fall 2020, with MSRP for three hand models starting at $2,150, while chronograph examples are expected to start at $3,100. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.