Long associated with professional pursuits in the early years of the 20th century, Longines made watches worn by explorers, scientists, soldiers, and aviators. Examples include the chronographs made for the hydrographic institute of the Italian navy in the 1930s and the wristwatches supplied to the British army in the 1940s.
One of the brand’s most distinctive watches from the period was the cushion-shaped aviator’s watch made for the personnel of the Czech air force in 1935, which has now been reimagined as the Pilot Majetek.
The Pilot Majetek is actually Longines’ second outing in reissuing the Czech air force original. Launched almost a decade ago, the first reissue had too many elements (including a date and “automatic” on the dial) that instantly gave away the fact that it was a modern watch.
In contrast, the Pilot Majetek avoids those pitfalls. The design is not a like-for-like reproduction of the original as it has a bulked-up case with crown guards and a wider bezel amongst other tweaks. But it doesn’t have any design elements that stand out as being inappropriate in a vintage-inspired watch.
So on its face the Pilot Majetek appears to tick all the boxes as a vintage reissue, but with a big few caveat. Though I’ve yet to see it in person, it is almost certainly a bulky watch at 43 mm in diameter and over 13 mm high, essentially the same dimensions as a chunky sports chronograph and certainly much larger than the 41 mm original, which was already an hugely oversized watch for its day and even today a good size.
And then there’s the price, which is CHF3,500. While reasonable enough by itself, it is steep compared to other Longines time-only watches, most notably last year’s Master 190th Anniversary that cost a third less and had a dial that was fancy (for Longines). The case of the Pilot Majetek is complex and the movement is COSC certified, but it doesn’t seem as much of a value proposition as Longines’ other offerings.
The historical basis
Having made cockpit clocks in the 1920s, Longines began making wristwatches for aviators in the following decade. It was during this period that the brand began supplying the Czech air force with the ref. 3582. With its fluted, rotating bezel to mark reference or elapsed time, the ref. 3582 was similar to other pilot’s watches of the era. But it was set apart but its cushion-shaped case with widely spaced lugs, making it unique amongst its contemporaries.
The examples issued to Czech air force pilots were marked on the case back with an issue number and “Majetek Vojenske Spravy”, which translates as “property of the military authorities”. This, in turn, inspired the model name of the new watch.
The Pilot Majetek retains all the key features of the ref. 3582, including the black dial with large Arabic numerals as well as the rotating bezel with a triangular marker.
The case, however, has been redesigned to have a more pronounced shape as well as crown guards, giving it the outline of a modern sports watch. And of course its construction has been improved to meet modern standards.
Unlike the vintage original that had its crystal fixed to the bezel (which meant both rotated when the bezel was turned), the Pilot Majetek has a more complex system that features an independent bezel and fixed crystal. Most notable is the triangular pointer that sits under the crystal but is secured to the bezel gearing. The case construction means the Pilot Majetek has a water resistance rating of 100 m.
Another entirely modern feature is of course the movement. It’s the L893.6, an automatic movement based on the ETA A31 family, which is in turn evolved from the ETA 2892. The L893.6 is one of the highest-spec movements offered by Longines. Besides a silicon hairspring and 72-hour power reserve, it also boasts COSC certification.
Key facts and price
Longines Pilot Majetek
Ref. L.2.8126.96.36.199 (brown leather strap)
Ref. L.2.8188.8.131.52 (dark green leather strap)
Ref. L.2.8184.108.40.206 (khaki green fabric strap)
Ref. L2.8220.127.116.11 (box set with additional fabric strap and strap tool)
Diameter: 43 mm
Height: 13.30 mm
Water resistance: 100 m
Functions: Hours, minutes and small seconds
Frequency: 25,200 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours
Strap: Leather strap or fabric strap; box set with additional fabric strap
Limited edition: No
Availability: At Longines boutiques and retailers
Price: Standard version is US$3,750 or 5,630 Singapore dollars; box set is US$3,850 or 5,730 Singapore dollars
For more, visit Longines.com.
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