While it isn’t common knowledge, Longines now 190 years old, making it the longest-established of the seven biggest brands in Swiss watchmaking, besting even its sister company Omega. Historically known for its top-quality chronographs and time-only chronometers, Longines has unsurprisingly delved into its archives to mark the anniversary.
The brand has just taken the wraps off the Master Collection 190th Anniversary, a three-hand wristwatch with an unusually elaborate dial for a Longines. And as expected for a commemorative model, it is available not only as a regular production model in steel, but also also a pricier limited edition in yellow or rose gold.
The steel version with blued steel hands is an affordable US$2,400
With compact proportions and an elegantly detailed dial, the Master 190th Anniversary blends various elements drawn from watches of the mid 20th century, giving it an easy appeal. That said, the aesthetics of the Master anniversary are not exactly original – it does bring to mind a variety of other watches.
While it’s definitely a vintage-style watch, the Master anniversary is not a reissue – a feat for Longines, a brand that already has several dozen reissues in its catalogue. I find the dial of the new Master more attractive than most of the actual remakes in Longines’ Heritage collection. Those watches typically have good fit and finish, but the anniversary Master is a marked improvement and enhanced by flourishes like the engraved hour numerals.
The engraved markers add depth and a feel of artisanal decoration, though they are done by machine
In terms of value, the steel version is unquestionably the winner at US$2,400. Considering the automatic, three-day movement and the engraved dial, the steel model is well priced, even against the keenly-priced competition.
But the limited edition gold models cost a whopping US$12,000, certainly expensive by Longines’ standards though more or less on par with comparable watches by other brands. But at that level the choices are many, making the gold models less compelling.
Being so affordable, at least in the steel iteration, the anniversary Master can be summed up as an expensive-looking entry-level watch, rather than an entry-level watch trying to look expensive.
A different Master
The Master Collection is a diverse lineup ranging from from a time-and-date base model to an annual calendar. Nevertheless, the line largely sticks to the same formula, namely a simple case with a polished finish, a stamped guilloche dial bearing Arabic numerals.
The anniversary model, however, does away with the complications, even the date. At the same time, the printed text on the dial has been dialled back and executed in italic typography for a more classical look. And to set it apart even more from the standard offerings, the anniversary models replace guilloche with subtle surface texturing, either straight graining or granular frosting.
The rose gold model gets more pronounced frosting on its dial than its steel counterpart
While the changes would seemingly make for a plainer dial, the anniversary edition is actually more striking, largely thanks to the elaborate hour numerals. Instead of being printed as is the norm at this price point, the numerals are engraved in a deep, distinct manner that mimics hand engraving. The precise engraving of the hour numerals is impressive and possibly unrivalled at this price.
The hour numerals are done in the Breguet style
Notice the facetted recesses and sharp corners of the numerals that resemble hand-engraving
Inside the watch is the L888.5, an ETA movement exclusive to Longines that has a silicon hairspring for better resistance to magnetism along with a practical power reserve of three days. Being based on the ETA 2892, the L888.5 is thin enough to make for an elegant watch, resulting in a total case height of just 9.35 mm.
Key facts and price
Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary
Ref. L2.7184.108.40.206 (steel)
Ref. L2.7220.127.116.11 (yellow gold)
Ref. L2.718.104.22.168 (rose gold)
Case diameter: 40 mm
Height: 9.35 mm
Material: Steel, 18k yellow or rose gold
Water resistance: 30 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Frequency: 25,200 beats per hour (3.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours
Strap: Alligator leather with steel folding clasp or 18k gold pin buckle
Limited edition: 190 pieces in each colour of gold, steel model is regular production
Availability: At Longines boutiques
Steel – US$2,400, or 3,420 Singapore dollars
Yellow and rose gold – US$12,000, or 17,170 Singapore dollars
For more, visit Longines.com.
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