There are few companies in Swiss watchmaking whose archive is as vast, and seemingly as inexhaustible, as that of Longines. Highlights from its archive have been commemorated in Heritage models that channel the past with small updates to things like size and the use of robust automatic movements. Consider Longines’ many recent hits in this arena, and any number of modestly priced, fan-favorite watches might come to mind: the Military Watch, the Skin Diver, the Legend Diver, and the Heritage Classic Sector Dial. I could go on. Actually, I will.
Today, we can add two new Heritage models to this ever-growing roster: the Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph – Tuxedo, and the Longines Heritage Classic – Tuxedo. As the names indicate, they’re variations on what might best be described as a dressed-up theme, with black and white dials paired with stainless steel cases. And since these watches are part of the Heritage line, they point to specific models in the Longines archive. They’re designed after a pair of watches produced by Longines in the middle part of the 1940s. Check them out below. One is a simple three-hander with small seconds, and the other is a similar-looking example of the legendary Longines 13ZN chronograph.
Longines Heritage Classic – Tuxedo
The first of the new models is a 38.5mm round dress piece. It has a dial with a silver opaline center section to contrast with a black hours track with raised luminous numerals. The small seconds sub-dial at six o’clock is nicely decorated with a bit of snailing for visual contrast.
The choice of large, legible hands and ample application of lume point to a watch that may have been used out in the field, for example in a military application, though the black and white sectors and largely Art Deco design give it a dressy vibe. The crown at three o’clock isn’t out of proportion with the case by any means, but it’s on the larger side of things, as one might expect of a hand-wound watch. Longines typically writes the word “Automatic” on its self-winding timepieces, but this is often intentionally left out in the Heritage line, which it will outfit with automatic movements for the sake of modernity and convenience even when honoring historical watches that were wound by hand.
Inside the Heritage Classic – Tuxedo is the Caliber L893 automatic movement, which is Longines’ proprietary take on the ETA A31.501. The movement has a slightly off-beat frequency of 25,200 vph and an extended power reserve of 64 hours, and the escapement is fitted with a silicon balance spring. You can’t see the rotor for automatic winding or the modern escapement, though, since the back is kept closed. The caseback bears the old-school Longines winged hourglass logo – tempus fugit.
In terms of size, 38.5mm feels right on the money for a wristwatch that is intended to impart a vintage vibe and be worn today. It’s eminently wearable as a modern timepiece, though on the smaller end of the spectrum. This is a really lovely take on a classic mid-century vintage Longines with lots of period charm. It’s got the dressy look suggested by its name, but I think that it also has everyday potential. My only real criticism of this watch is its depth rating of 30 meters. I’d hope for something more, especially given the closed caseback.
The Longines Classic – Tuxedo. Ref. L2.3126.96.36.199. Caliber L893 (ETA A31.501), 27 jewels, 25,200 vibrations per hour. Power reserve of 64 hours. 38.5mm stainless steel case with 30 meters of water resistance. Silver opaline and black dial with rhodium-plated luminous hands and numerals. Black leather strap. Price: $ 2,000.
Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph – Tuxedo
The other model is particularly exciting, because if there is one complication that vintage watch lovers associate with Longines more than any other, it’s probably the chronograph, and specifically the 13ZN. While the hand-wound 13ZN is no longer in production at Longines, this automatic, bi-compax chronograph hits the right notes from a design standpoint.
I haven’t had a chance to go hands-on with this chronograph yet, but I’m very excited to do so soon because its 40mm case with large crown and pushers looks to me like it’ll have just the right amount of heft to impart the gravitas of a great mid-century watch design. Shoehorning a vintage design into modern production capacities can be a difficult thing to do. On the dial side, I think that Longines has done an excellent job of keeping the proportions and the spacing of the subdials and the tachymeter scale right. The pairing of a blued chronograph seconds hand with the blue tachymeter scale seems to me like it would make using this function intuitive and legible. And overall, I can’t really find much at all to criticize here. I think that if you showed a good number of people the above picture and told them that it was a watch from the ’40s, they’d believe you.
Obviously, the movement inside is not a hand-wound mid-century classic like the 13ZN. Longines doesn’t make this kind of chronograph anymore, but the caliber that they do use is the L895, a robust, automatic, ETA-based number that beats at 28,800 vph and has an extended power reserve of 54 hours (it’s an ETA caliber A31.L01/2892 with module). At $ 3,000, it’s tough to find much of anything to argue with about this chronograph.
The Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph – Tuxedo. Ref. L2.8188.8.131.52. Caliber L895 (ETA A31.L21), 37 jewels, 28,800 vph. Power reserve of 54 hours. 40mm stainless steel case with 30 meters of water resistance. Silver opaline and black dial with tachymeter scale. Hours, minutes, and small seconds (at three o’clock). Chronograph with central 60-second hand and 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock. Black leather strap. Price: $ 3,000.
Editor’s note: Watch companies sometimes announce new products to the HODINKEE editorial team and the HODINKEE Shop at the same time. Please note that the editorial team and the Shop team produce their content independently of each other.