Hands-On: Longines Avigation Type A-7 “The Hour Glass” in Bronze

A twist on off-centred pilot's instrument.

Following the launch of the Sinn 356 Pilot Chronograph limited edition to mark the 40th anniversary of The Hour Glass, the retailer has just announced yet another pilot’s chronograph, but this time, one that is more unusual and striking, the Longines Avigation Type A-7 1935 in bronze.

Characterised by an askew dial and movement, the Type A-7 “The Hour Glass” is based on the second-generation, 2016 reissue of the chronograph Longines supplied to the US Army Air Corps in the 1930s that was known as the “Type A-7”.

Striking colourways

Though the distinctive case style is retained, the commemorative edition is made even more unusual by an attractive material and colour combination. The case is bronze and paired with either a blue or champagne dial finished with a metallic, sun ray-brushed finish.

While bronze might seem a bit too fashionable, especially in this price segment, it’s surprisingly uncommon for Longines. In fact, the new Type A-7 is only the second Longines watch to have a bronze case; the first was the Heritage Military Kuwait limited edition.

The case is made of phosphor bronze (CuSn8), an alloy that is 92% copper and 8% tin. In contrast to the aluminium-bronze alloys, used in watches like the Tudor Black Bay Bronze or Montblanc 1858 chronograph, which develops a brownish patina, phosphor bronze has a more reddish tone and develops a blue-green, sunken-treasure oxidisation over time.

While the vintage Type A-7 was a 51mm diameter cockpit instrument, the reissue is a more manageable 41mm wide and 14mm in height.

Even though it is still substantial in size, the Type A-7 feels a lot smaller than its dimensions would suggest, due to the elegant, rounded bassine case as well as the matte, brushed finish, which in turn, draws attention to the metallic dial.

Finished with a brushed, sun ray pattern, the dial features large, gothic-font Arabic numerals paired with cathedral hands and a railway minute track, typical of 1930s pilot’s watches.

But the dial is rotated 40 degrees off the vertical, a feature originally intended to make time measurement easy even while the watch was worn on the inside a pilot’s gloved wrist.

The hands of the counters differ from each other – leaf-shaped with a curved diamond-shaped counterweight for the 30-minute chronograph counter and baton-shaped for the small seconds. And more importantly, the watch forgoes the date display at eight o’clock found on the standard model – an element that is even more jarring due to the retro, asymmetrical design of the watch.

The champagne-coloured dial features faux-aged, caramel-coloured numerals, matching the colour of the case well, but creating a slightly affected retro look.

While the incorporation of such retro accents might seem heavy-handed, unlike most vintage-inspired watches that have more timeless designs, the entire design of the Type A-7 is so deeply rooted in its time that such simulative elements only enhances the appeal.

The blue dial, on the other hand, features white numerals and pink gold-plated hands, which tie it nicely to its bronze case.

Monopusher chronograph

As with the original, the Type A-7 has a pusher embedded in the crown that starts, stops and resets the chronograph, thanks to the L788.2 movement inside. With a large onion crown at two o’clock and the counters vertically aligned, the movement is a standard one that was rotated 40-degrees.

The Longines L788.2 is based on the ETA A08.L11 from the Valgranges range of extra-large movements, which are in turn based on the Valjoux 7750. It operates at a frequency of 4Hz and offers a 54-hour power reserve. The ETA A08.L11 is a heavily upgraded version of the Valjoux 7753, with the chronograph mechanism completely reworked to have a column wheel and vertical clutch.

The movement can also be found in a number of other Longines chronographs, including the Pulsometer Single-Button Chronograph and the Column-Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph.

It is hidden behind a solid titanium case back.

Concluding thoughts

The L788.2 is one amongst a handful of movements cost-efficient enough to be found in affordable mono-pusher chronographs, but the Longines Avigation Type A-7 1935 is by far the most unique in the category.

In essence, The Hour Glass edition is an outstanding execution of what already is a very compelling watch that is tastefully designed, and crucially, does away with the date window. And the bronze case is a rather unusual material for Longines.

At 6000 Singapore dollars, it is priced approximately 16 percent more than the standard model, a modest increase given the drastically different look and feel.


Key facts and price

Longines Avigation Type A-7 1935 “The Hour Glass”
Ref. L2.825.1.93.2 (Blue dial)
Ref. L2.825.1.33.2 (Champagne dial)

Diameter: 41mm
Height: 14mm
Material: Bronze
Water resistance: 30m

Movement: cal. L788.2 or ETA A08.L11
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph
Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 54 hours

Strap: Distressed leather

Limited edition: 40 pieces each
Availability:
 Only at The Hour Glass in Singapore
Price: 6,000 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit thehourglass.com


 

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Based on a 1930s pilot's chronograph, the Longines Type A-7 is striking, unusual, wearable and affordable.

Hands-On with the Newest Longines Column-Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph (Original Photos, Review & Price)

Longines introduces the latest version of its popular Column-Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph, featuring a larger case and appealing, vintage-style dials, while retaining the L788 self-winding movement. We take a look at the new trio of chronographs.

H. Moser & Cie. Introduces the Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept Aventurine

Cosmic moon.

Introduced almost a decade ago in 2010, the H. Moser & Cie. Perpetual Moon is among the most accurate moon phase watches on the market, deviating by a day after 1027.3 years. A complex mathematical feat, the moon phase mechanism was originally conceived by none other than independent watchmaker Andreas Strehler, who himself holds the record for the most precise moon phase display in the world – accurate to a day in 2.045 million years.

Having unveiled the watch with a blacker-than-black Vantablack dial a year ago, H. Moser & Cie. has now introduced the Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept Aventurine that has a sparkly aventurine glass dial evoking a night sky.

Full of stars

Like many of Moser’s watches, the case of the Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept is relatively large at 42mm wide and 13.1mm high due to the movement inside. It is available in both a red gold or a stainless-steel case that are characterised by a generously sloping bezel and brushed case band punctuated with polished concave flanks.

The dial is made of aventurine glass, also known as goldstone, a man-made material produced by mixing fine metal particles into blue glass. Aventurine glass is often used in watchmaking, specifically for moon phases and calendar displays, for its striking, iridescent reflections that create the impression of a starry sky.

According to legend, aventurine glass was discovered by accident on the Venetian island of Murano in the 16th century when copper filings fell into a vat of molten glass. The material gets its name from per avventura, Italian for “by chance”.

But the glass is not to be confused with the natural stone known as aventurine, a variety of quartz that is typically green in colour with mica inclusions. 

As is customary of Moser’s Concept line of watches, the watch is wonderfully minimalist, with no logo, no markers and not much else except an oversized moon phase display against a deep blue glittering expanse.

The minimalist design also extends to the moon phase itself that is displayed in a circular window. The size of the moon is rather interesting and unusual. It is accomplished with the use of a central, large diameter disc with four identical moons, instead of a smaller disc with two moons, which would then get in the way of the central pinion.

Apart from the central hour, minutes and seconds hands, a short central hand serves as a day and night indicator, making one revolution every 24-hours with the right half of the dial indicating midnight to midday and the left side of the dial for midday to midnight.

Enhanced astronomical accuracy

Powering the watch is the self-winding HMC 801 with a moon phase display that was originally developed by Mr Strehler, who also designed Moser’s landmark perpetual calendar.

While the standard moon phase display relies on a 135-tooth driving wheel to achieve an accuracy of a day in 122.5 years, Moser uses a more precise gear ratio that matches the lunar cycle more closely, enabling an accuracy of a day in 1027.3 years. The moon phase is adjusted via a pusher on the side of the case.

Equipped with double barrels, the movement has a seven-day power reserve that is indicated on a scale on the barrel bridge.

And like Moser’s other top of the line movements, the HMC 801 is equipped with an interchangeable escapement that can be swapped out for a freshly regulated module during servicing for a faster turnaround. Though it is modular, the escapement has a pallet fork and escape wheel made of solid gold.

It is accompanied by a traditional screwed balance, with timing screws on the circumference, held in place by a mustache-shaped balance bridge. And lastly, it is equipped with an in-house hairspring, with a Breguet overcoil.


Key facts and price

Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept Aventurine

Reference 1801-0402 (5N red gold)
Reference 1801-1201 (stainless steel)

Diameter: 42mm
Height: 13.1mm
Material: Red gold or stainless steel

Movement: HMC 801
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds; moon phase; power reserve indicator
Winding: Hand-wound
Frequency: 18,000bph, or 2.5Hz
Power reserve: 7 days

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle
Limited edition: 50 pieces each
Price: 39,900 Swiss francs, or 60,700 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit h-moser.com.


 

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Up Close: Patek Philippe Ref. 3652 Minute Repeater “Golay Fils & Stahl”

The intriguing, unique reference.

The most intriguing watch in Phillips’ upcoming Double Signed auction is by far the smallest watch in the sale – it’s the Patek Philippe ref. 3652 that’s just 31mm in diameter. In fact, the ref. 3652 is a dead ringer for a Calatrava ref. 96 from the 1930s.

But – the ref. 3652 is a unique reference produced during a brief period when Patek Philippe is known to have made a handful of remarkably interesting, one-off timepieces. All were powered by vintage movements, and some were vintage watches freshly re-cased. One example is the ref. 3651, a chronograph re-cased in the late 1980s of which only a handful are known.

Most of these watches are now in its museum; some of them were made for Philippe Stern himself, who was then running the company alongside his father, Henri.

The ref. 3652 was one such reference, created as a custom watch for a client. It’s a minute repeater made in 1985, but powered with a ladies’ watch movement from the early 20th century. And it has a fired enamel dial signed “Golay Fils & Stahl” – which was a watchmaker itself a century before.

At 31mm, the watch is tiny by any standard. That’s compounded by the fact that the lugs are set widely apart, making the case seem even smaller. If not for the slide on the case, it would easily pass as a ref. 96, the quintessential Calatrava model that Patek Philippe produced for some four decades until 1973.

But the ref. 3652 is neither a ref. 96 nor a vintage watch, which is why it’s interesting.

And the ref. 3652 is also notable from a historical perspective, being one of the handful of repeater wristwatches produced by Patek Philippe during the period.

According to the archive extract, this watch was made and sold in 1985, which is four years before Patek Philippe introduced the ref. 3979, the firm’s first serially-produced, contemporary minute repeating wristwatch.

In fact, from the time Patek Philippe discontinued its first generation of minute repeater wristwatches – namely the refs. 2419, 2421 and 2524 – in the late 1960s, until the launch the ref. 3979, it only produced striking watches as one-off, custom orders.

The movement from another era

The ref. 3979 was powered by the R 27 PS, a self-winding movement that at the time was cutting edge, having been developed. Unsurprisingly, this ref. 3652 had to rely on a far older movement.

Inside is a compact, 11”’ calibre (that’s about 25mm in diameter) that was originally destined for a ladies’ pocket or pendant watch.

Because it was an old movement that was completed and dressed up for a one-off modern watch, it has a distinctly artisanal finish and style that is unimaginable in a Patek Philippe of today.

The layout of the movement is classical, exactly as one would find in a pocket watch, while all of the markings on the bridges are hand-engraved, and uneven.

The movement finishing is obviously also the result of hand work, and also slightly uneven, but beautiful. The treatment of the steel parts is especially charming and old school.

In fact, the only element in the movement that reveals it was finished in the modern era is the KIF shock absorber spring for the balance staff jewel, which is not found on vintage movements.

Golay Fils & Stahl

As interesting as the movement inside is the retailer’s signature on the dial. Ironically, the retailer started out as a watchmaker, one founded in Geneva no less, making it a peer of Patek Philippe in some ways.

A. Golay-Leresche was established in Geneva in 1837 by David Auguste Golay, who had married Susanne Leresche. It became a prominent and respected maker of pocket watches, not unlike Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin, and its timepieces still turn up at auctions.

In the mid 19th century, Golay’s sons joined the company, which was renamed “A. Golay-Leresche & Fils” and grew to include a branch in Paris on the swanky Rue de la Paix. After Golay’s death, his two sons took on Eduard Stahl as a partner, and renamed the company “Golay Fils & Stahl”.

By the 20th century, the firm had evolved into a retailer of watches and jewellery, rather than a watchmaker. This Audemars Piguet grand complication pocket watch from 1904, for instance, was sold by the firm and is signed as such. Over time jewellery became its primary business and in 1997, the company ceased selling watches altogether.

Now owned by the Wolfgang family, who took over the business in 1962, Golay Fils & Stahl still in operation as a jewellery merchant, retaining its prominent address on the Place des Bergues in Geneva, just beside the Four Seasons hotel.

Concluding thoughts

The watch is well preserved, although it has probably been serviced and polished on a few occasions, explaining the faded hallmark on the case back and soft edges of the case.

That was presumably because its owner was meticulous, and wanted to keep it looking like it just left the factory. The fact that the watch is accompanied by its original certificate is further proof of that.

The hallmarks on the back

Though the condition is slightly worn, it is probably not as crucial for a watch like this. The ref. 3652 remains immensely interesting and historically important. In the segment of diminutive, under-appreciated complicated watches, it’s hard to top this one. But it is hindered by the tiny case. That’s probably why, as such things go, it is not that expensive.

The inside of the case back bears the unique reference number “3652”, and it also indicates the case was made by Patek Philippe itself

The last time this watch sold publicly was also the first time, and that was in 2005 at Christie’s in Geneva, where it sold for 367,200 Swiss francs. Now it has an estimate of 250,000-500,000 Swiss francs, or about the same ballpark as a current-production Patek Philippe minute repeating wristwatch.

The ref. 3652 is lot 28 in Phillips’ upcoming auction in Geneva that takes place on November 9. For more, visit Phillips.com.


Correction November 6, 2019: Spelling errors fixed.

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Highlights from Jean-Claude Biver’s Collection on Show in Geneva

At Phillips from Nov 7-9.

Now the non-executive chairman of the watch division at LVMH, Jean-Claude Biver has enjoyed a remarkable career in the watch industry that has spanned some 45 years.

That success has enabled him to build a timepiece collection that is both magnificent and diverse, ranging from vintage Patek Philippe to modern independent watchmaking. Now the entire collection will be on display for the first time at Phillips in Geneva, after which it will embark on a world tour.

Bookends of Mr Biver’s career so far: a Royal Oak ref. 5402 ST by Audemars Piguet, where he started his career

And a Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Chronograph

Titled Jean-Claude Biver: A Retrospective. Share, Respect, Forgive, the exhibition includes two dozen watches – including some lovely Patek Philippe pocket watches – that are amongst the best examples of 20th century watchmaking.

Notably, the collection also includes several watches by prominent independent watchmakers, many of which were relatively recent purchases. They include a Philippe Dufour Simplicity in rose gold – the exact watch we featured several weeks ago in fact – and a fresh-off-the-press Akrivia Chronometre Contemporain in platinum.

According to an inside source, Mr Biver’s late-in-life interest in independent watchmaking, and also the Rolex Daytona “Zenith”, is the result of counsel from his son, Pierre, who is a specialist at Phillips’ London office, showing that the love of watches can be hereditary.

A Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 “pink on pink”

Patek Philippe Ref. 1579 in platinum – one of just three known

The unique Patek Philippe Ref. 5106J made for Only Watch 2009

Philippe Dufour Simplicity no. 180

Akrivia Rexhep Rexhepi Chronometre Contemporain no. 01P

And a trio of Rolex Daytona ref. 16520s with the “Mark II” or “225” bezel

After Geneva, the collection will travel to Hong Kong and New York in 2019, and finally London in 2020.


Geneva exhibition details

The collection is on show alongside the watches of Phillips’ Geneva auction that takes place the same weekend, at La Reserve.

Admission is free, and it’s open daily to the public from November 7-10, with the following opening hours:

Thursday Nov 7 10am-9pm
Friday Nov 8 10am-6pm
Saturday Nov 9 10am-5pm
Sunday Nov 10 10am-3pm

La Réserve Geneva Hotel and Spa
Route de Lausanne 301
1293 Bellevue, Geneva
Switzerland 


 

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