This year Longines announced the introduction of its Avigation Oversize Crown timepieces. They come in three variants: Time only, GMT and Chronograph. Longines is owned by Swatch, incidentally its winged hourglass logo is the oldest registered for a watchmaker and in 2002 the brand celebrated the 170th year of the flying hourglass logo.
The name of this new series “Avigation” is suggestive of a combination of ‘navigation’ and ‘aviation’, and Longines are known for their ‘Aviators’ watches. They collaborated with Charles Lindbergh after his transatlantic flight and designed a navigational watch for pilots made to Lindbergh’s specifications which Longines still produce today. The brand also provided timers for the first modern olympics and are still known for their sport watches and chronographs.
The Longines Avigation Oversize Crown is a retro looking Pilots watch which as you can guess from the name has a very large crown. Retro pilots watches have been a popular release for brands lately and they fit well with the contemporary preference for larger sized watches. The Avigation Oversize Crown is based on a vintage model they produced in the 1920’s.
Naturally the large onion crown immediately catches your attention with this model, this is a feature that enabled pilots to easily adjust the bezel with thick gloves on without catching the crown in order to set his reference points as well as being able to turn the crown more easily for winding and time setting.
The Longines Avigation Oversize Crown comes in three variants. The basic time edition – reference L2.777.4.53 uses calibre L615 self-winding mechanical movement that is based on a modified ETA 2892 and shows hours and minutes with date and seconds displayed at the 6 o’clock position.
The GMT version called the ref. L2.778.4.53 uses a centrally mounted hand pointing to a 0-24 hours scale for displaying a secod time zone. This edition is powered by calibre L704 L704 self-winding mechanical movement (ETA A07 171).
Finally in this new Longines Avigation Oversize Crown series is a chronograph model the L2.7184.108.40.206 which uses an exclusive self-winding chronograph calibre, the L788. Its the more sought after classical column-wheel type chronograph which uses the traditional mono-pusher, meaning that all chronograph functions -start, stop and reset- can be controlled with just a single button. There are two sub-dials the 30-minute chrono register at 3:00 and running seconds at 9:00 and a 54-hour power reserve.
Longines Avigation Oversize Crown – Case and Dial
All three models have cases that are stainless steel and measure 41 millimeters in diameter – not taking into account the extended crown which adds to the width of the piece considerably and may be an issue for some people due to it digging into their wrists. The overall diameter of these watches is quite modest for a pilots watch when you consider IWC’s Big Pilot measures roughly 46-48mm in diameter. It features nicely done loop style lugs which compliment the case style nicely.
The fluted bi-directional bezel comes with a triangular index marker originally employed by the pilot for setting reference points, these days it would probably be of little practicle use for the average customer but adds to the charm and authenticity of the piece.
Pilots watches require them to have great legibilty and all three models have large gold-plated luminous hands along with luminous numerals with the black dial providing a strong contrasting background giving the watches strong reabiliy even in low-light situations.
Longines Avigation Oversize Crown – Conclusion and Price
I really like the heritage collection by Longines and these three new Avigation Oversize Crown models are a throwback to an early era of flight and pay tribute to their early pilot watches, they compliment the current collection really well.
The chronograph model is my favourite of the three bacuase I prefer the lack of a chopped numeral caused by the date window and also because its a more collectible column wheel chronograph movement and is very reasonably priced. The oversize crown could be a problem for some people, some may find it ugly while others may find it uncomfortable, having never worn it I cant comment and can only suggest its definitely the type of watch that would be too risky to purchase without first trying it on – not that many would consider doing so anyway.
For the most basic version (L2.7220.127.116.11) the retail price will be $2,400 while the GMT L2.718.104.22.168 will go for $3,100 and $3,500 for the chronograph model (L2.722.214.171.124).