Longines was making stellar heritage reissues well before it was cool. Case in point is the stylish ’60s-inspired Legend Diver, first released way back in 2007. And while it’s become de rigueur for most major brands to release one or two retro pieces a year, the Longines Legend Diver Review (LLD) pioneered the reissue genre, and still holds its own, thanks to a well-balanced trifecta of timeless good looks, clear vintage style and cracking value.
First off, let’s tackle the style. The internal rotating bezel and twin crowns of the Legend draw their inspiration from a type of dive watch that was popular in the ’60s and ’70s called the Super Compressor. Most dive watches rely on thick cases, crystals and gaskets to create an impermeable wall to keep moisture out. The Super Compressor’s approach however, was slightly different. Developed by case-maker E. Piquerez SA (EPSA), it relied on the external pressure of the water to aid the water resistance of the watch – the deeper you went, the tighter the seal. It’s a clever system and was widely used by a range of watchmakers from the ’50s through to the ’70s – with notable examples including Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Hamilton and of course, Longines. A key feature of many of these watches is the dual crowns – one to deal with the time, the other handling the internal rotating bezel.
That’s the theory – but how does the Legend Diver look in reality? Well, it looks the business. At 42mm, the case is hefty and if anything I’d say it wears on the larger side thanks to the long, curving lugs and narrow bezel. Aside from these features the case is quite spartan, with simple lines and a polished finish, all of which serves to let the dial shine. And what a dial. Glossy, black and surprisingly deep thanks to the internal bezel, it’s shown off to full effect under the domed sapphire crystal, with creamy printing and generously long markers that effortlessly combine legibility and vintage chic. Aside from the markers and arrowhead handset, the look is relatively sparse, with brand, hourglass logo and cursive ‘Automatic’ text the only other features. (Incidentally, Longines initially made versions of the LLD with and without a date function, but discontinued the no-date version, so obviously that’s now very much in-demand from collectors.)
The LLD is rated to 300m, achieved using screw-down crowns and caseback rather than the compression style case that inspired it. It’s powered by an ETA 2824, hidden away behind a solid caseback replete with a handsome engraving of a skin diver. The strap is one of the more polarising elements of the watch. Made in the padded sailcloth style, it’s very stiff at first, and I know many people swap it out quite quickly, but I think it suits the overall vibe of the piece well.
It’s strange to think that this heritage reissue is 10 years old – it was one of the first models that really caught my eye when I was getting into watches. For me it still stands out as one of the best examples of its type, and an important release that went a long way to popularising the vintage revival that has dominated the industry in the past decade.