Longines might not have the prestige of a brand like Rolex, but they have as much a storied history as the marque. The brand is almost 200 years old so have more than a bit of heritage to draw from. That’s what they’ve done here with the new Longines Spirit Flyback, a line of vintage-themed aviation watches that build on a patent created by Longines in 1935.
The two new chronographs in either blue or black pay tribute to the original “precision instruments created by the brand to accompany the greatest explorers in their conquest of air, sea, and land.” But it isn’t all metaphors and abstract references to feats of the past, instead the movement itself is built from their own heritage and an acknowledgement of what is lacking in their current line of pieces, in this case, a flyback function.
As Longines describe, “Longines actually equipped its first models with a flyback function in 1925 and filed a patent for this on 12 June 1935. The patent went on to be registered on 16 June 1936: a world first. The particular advantage of flyback is that it gives pilots a practical and fast way of successively time different flight stages, thus facilitating navigation.”
Across all configurations, they’re encased in stainless steel with a 42mm diameter and a 17mm thickness. That’s the drawback of these pieces, they are chunky. However, they make up for it with water resistance rating of 100m, something not always expected from a chronograph, let alone paired with a screw-down crown. Though the pushers are not screwed down, so it’s probably not the best idea to use them underwater.
The design is vintage inspired with predominantly brushed finishes and polished bevels on the flanks and lugs around the case. A bi-directional timing bezel adorns the case with a scratch resistant ceramic insert matching the selected dial colour.
The dials themselves each feature a sunburst finish with subtle textures that play with the light at different angles. The sub-dials have a concentric guilloche texture bordered by a bronze ring to assist with legibility.
Only the central hands, Arabic numerals, and hour indices feature SuperLuminova, though if you wanted to see the running seconds in the dark you can engage the central chronograph seconds hand to sync up with the running seconds counter. So there is a work around, it just isn’t very intuitive.
There are three strap offerings: a stainless steel bracelet, brown leather strap, and a beige NATO strap. Each change up the look of the watch whilst still keeping the vintage aesthetic in place. Though if you like all of the straps, unlike reading running seconds in the dark, it’s very easy to switch them out thanks to quick release tabs on the underside.
Finally, there is an exhibition caseback in which you can view the Longines-exclusive automatic flyback chronograph calibre L791.4 featuring column-wheel architecture removing the start-stutter cam-driven chronographs often have. It offers a smooth and precise start for the chronograph as well as a 68-hour power reserve and COSC chronometer certification ensuring an accuracy of +6/-4 seconds per day.
On a strap, these will set you back $6,725 AUD ($4,450 USD) and on the bracelet, $6,900 AUD ($4,550 USD).
At a Glance
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement: Longines exclusive automatic calibre L791.4
Power Reserve: 68 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Price: $6,725 AUD ($4,450 USD), $6,900 AUD ($4,550 USD)
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet, brown leather strap, blue fabric strap, beige NATO strap