Longines marked a historical milestone last year with the well-received Master Collection 190th Anniversary, a watch that combines classic good looks with a modest price tag. Now the brand has taken the same styling and applied it to another model to create the Master Collection Small Seconds.
The Small Seconds makes its debut in a pleasing variety of dial colours, including a fashionable “salmon”. As much of a value proposition as last year’s anniversary model, the Small Seconds retains the same aesthetic as its predecessor but with a subsidiary seconds at six that gives it a more retro feel. But because of the small seconds, it becomes a noticeably thicker watch. So even though it looks much like the anniversary edition, the Small Seconds feels different.
The Small Seconds is largely identical to its centre-seconds counterpart, so it has much of the same appeal. The design is a pleasing vintage style with all the right elements like Breguet numerals and leaf-shaped hands. Admittedly, the styling is somewhat generic – it’s vintage inspired rather than a remake – but the result is appealing, especially considering its affordability.
Although the watch is clearly an industrial product, the details are done well, the engraved numerals are especially attractive. This is especially so on the anthracite and salmon dials, which have the numerals in contrasting plating. The anthracite dial is especially striking because it is a relatively uncommon colour combination that is also more modern. Interestingly, all three dials have different surface finishes that complement the respective colours well.
However, the Small Seconds is thicker than the anniversary edition with centre seconds due to the movement. The difference is just under 1 mm, but it’s enough that the Small Seconds feels a little thicker than such a watch should. This is also due to the smaller case diameter, which gives it a smaller width-to-height ratio, making it seem taller.
Still, for US$2,500, the Small Seconds is a solid value proposition that achieves what it sets out to do – vintage styling and workmanlike quality that is priced accessibility.
As was the case with the 190th anniversary model with centre seconds, the Small Seconds is all about the dial, it’s the defining feature of the watch, and accounts for almost all of its appeal.
It’s a convincingly classic design made up of familiar elements, namely Breguet numerals and leaf-shaped hands. These elements are neither original nor special, but they still look good, especially with the numbers engraved as they are here.
The dial layout is almost perfect, with the seconds register positioned just right. The old-school typography on the seconds is also a good fit for the design. But the seconds register also has “Automatic” across its top, which is unnecessary and out of place, but small enough to be passable.
But as with the anniversary model, the most interesting detail is the engraved numbers. They are engraved by laser but in a manner that mimics hand engraving, right down to the serifs on the numerals and V-shaped profile of the recesses. They look very good and certainly rank amongst the most interesting numerals in this price segment.
Also revealing of the designers’ attention to detail is the varied finishing for the dials. The silver dial has a finely grained surface that looks almost smooth at a distance. The “salmon”, on the other hand, has a pronounced vertical brushing that that catches the light and emphasises the pinkish hue.
The anthracite dial is the most interesting. It’s finished with granular frosting that has much more texture than the silver dial. And the numerals as well as hands are plated in rose gold, creating striking contrast.
Unlike the dial, the case is simple in both form and finish. It’s made up of rounded edges and polished surfaces that are plain but well suited to the watch.
At 38.5 mm in diameter and 10.2 mm high, the Small Seconds is smaller but thicker than the anniversary model with centre seconds that is 40 mm by 9.35 mm. This gives it distinctly different proportions that are acceptable, but not quite perfect for a vintage-inspired design because of the height. The diameter is perfect for the design and movement size, but it’s a bit thicker than ideal.
This is true on the wrist as well, where it feels quite compact, but the height is obvious. That is made more apparent due to the steeply sloping flange around the dial as well as the domed bezel. Much of the thickness is in the bezel, which feels bulky compared to the rest of the watch. The watch isn’t excessively thick, but it would be more appealing with a thinner profile.
The reason for the increased thickness is the movement, which is the L893. Like many Longines movements, the L893 is essentially an upgraded version of the ETA 2892.
Amongst the upgrades is a silicon hairspring, which beats at an uncommon 3.5 Hz and brings with it the advantage of being non-magnetic. Another is the 72-hour power reserve, a 60% increase over the 45 hours or so of the basic ETA 2892.
These technical upgrades set the watch apart from many of its competitors in the same price segment, which often have to rely on basic versions of ETA movements (unless they are able to make their own movements, as Tudor does).
The reason for the thickness of the L893 is the subsidiary seconds, which requires additional gearing since the base version of the movement is equipped with centre seconds. In fact, the L888.5 movement inside the 190th anniversary model with centre seconds is practically identical, except for the position of the seconds, which translates into a near-1 mm difference in overall thickness.
The movement is predictably industrial, though it has been decorated to improve the view through the back. A closed back would have been more appealing given the plainness of the movement.
The Master Collection Small Seconds is a strong value buy, both in terms of design and quality. It certainly outclasses many micro brands in the same price and style segment, particularly in terms of the dial execution and movement specs. More broadly, this demonstrates Longines’ ability to manufacture excellent and affordable timekeepers – now elevated by good design – thanks to its parent company’s industrial prowess.
Key facts and price
Longines Master Collection Small Seconds
Ref. L2.8126.96.36.199 (anthracite dial)
Ref. L2.8188.8.131.52 (silver dial)
Ref. L2.8184.108.40.206 (salmon dial)
Case diameter: 38.5 mm
Height: 10.2 mm
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
Limited edition: No
Availability: At Longines boutiques and retailers
Price: US$2,500 or CHF2,300
For more, visit Longines.com.
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