This year at Baselworld 2016, best Longines watch issued a surprising pair of new releases, taking their already impressive Heritage line deep into the brand’s rich past.
Longines Heritage 1918
First up is the Longines Heritage 1918. Drawing inspiration from the original Longines “Bracelet-Chronograph” of 1918, the Heritage 1918 is a handsome interpretation of early 20th century design. The case (available in both 41mm and diamond-studded 38mm women’s versions) is a simple, circular piece with mirror polish, calling to mind a pocket watch case, with a prominent cushion crown at 3. The wire lugs are almost completely contained, connecting to the case at only one point and giving the watch an almost floating appearance on the wrist.
Dial design is pure Art Nouveau-era ornateness, with brightly blued cathedral hands above a lacquer white dial with bold painted numerals. Both the handset and numerals are filled with a deep honey brown varnish, adding to the antique feel, and are framed by a railroad minutes track. A small sub seconds dial at 6 adds some texture to the dial with a concentric circle pattern, while a simple counterweighted blued stick handles timekeeping duties. Just below the sub seconds dial at 6 is a beveled date window, a feature that I can’t help feeling slightly disrupts the balance of the design. I’d love to see a no-date version of this one.
The Heritage 1918 comes on a honey brown alligator strap, which plays off the golden brown hands and numerals brilliantly and integrates the otherwise isolated dial to the overall watch. At the heart of the Heritage 1918 is a 28,800 bph automatic ETA 2895/2 with a 42 hour reserve. It’s a solidly reliable choice, but one that might be improved with the option of a hand wind to better suit the early 20th century feel. Overall, however, it’s a handsome take on a World War 1-era design, and we’ll bring you more details as soon as they’re available. $1,750
The other piece revealed by Longines is the RailRoad, a near exact copy of Longines’ classic RR280 railroad watch of the ‘60s.If the RailRoad could be described in one word, it would be “functional”. Everything about this watch from the simple, clean case to the hyper-legible dial is filled with purpose, but that doesn’t stop it from being extremely attractive. The 40mm case design here is deceptively simple, with wide-set 21mm brushed lugs flanking a smooth polished bezel.
Like so many simple designs, however, what really sets it apart is the execution. The finish quality looks to be extremely high, and overall it’s handsomely proportioned. Around back is the RailRoad’s only major design flourish, with “The Longines RailRoad” script flanking an impressively detailed engraving of a locomotive.
Turning our attention to the dial, the RailRoad once again borrows almost verbatim from the original RR280. The only major change here is in dial text, with the original “R.R. 280” script at 6 replaced with “R.R. 888 Automatic” to reflect the RailRoad’s new Caliber L888 powerplant. The dial itself is a polished eggshell white, with bold black numerals encircling equally legible inner 24-hour numerals. One curious feature here is the use of “0” at 12 o’clock, but considering the presence of 12 in the inner hour track it seems a perfectly reasonable choice. What’s more, it gives what could easily be an overly sterile design just enough character.
The black needle hands continue the “form follows function” approach, but are attractive enough in their own right. Driving the RailRoad is the 25,200 bph Caliber L888.2, made by ETA exclusively for Longines. The BPH is an uncommon number here, and perhaps lends to it’s longer than average 64hr power reserve. In terms of strap choice, the RailRoad is offered on a supple black alligator strap with white contrast stitching. It’s a design that could see a fair amount of versatility though, and I’d love to see this on brown leather or even the right bracelet as well. The RailRoad will undoubtedly be a sparkling addition to Longines’ current lineup, and one we’re very excited to get our hands on in the near future. $1,850