Introducing: Did Longines Just Release The Best Pilot’s Watch Of The Year?
Five stars all around.
Originally published by on HODINKEE, September 3rd 2021
Let me start this by saying I’m really not much of a pilot’s watch guy. At least not in the traditional sense. I’ve never understood what a conventional pilot’s watch offers that a field watch doesn’t – and if you want a watch for flying, doesn’t a chronograph with a 12-hour bezel make the most sense? Oh, and don’t get me started on the surcharge some brands ask for, through the lens of history.
So when Longines released the original Spirit collection last summer, I didn’t give it much of a second thought. I remember thinking it was interesting for such a large company like Longines (the fifth largest Swiss watch brand in the world, per the 2020 Morgan Stanley report) to reveal a brand new line of watches, rather than adding the series as an extension to an existing, tenured collection like the Master line or Heritage series. The watches looked fine – but they didn’t emotionally resonate with me. Even Danny’s follow-up Hands-On report that celebrated the quality of watchmaking on display didn’t move me from my cold, hardened anti-pilot’s watch stance.
That’s why I was so surprised by the latest iteration of the Longines Spirit when it landed in my inbox earlier this week. Overall, this is the same watch we were introduced to last year – yet it’s been improved in nearly every facet. The case is now constructed from lightweight Grade-5 titanium. The dial is cast in a black livery with lovely applied-gilt hour markers, with no date(!).
It’s available in your choice of 40mm or 42mm, both with a screw-down crown and a height of just slightly over 12mm. And the movement inside is the self-winding caliber L888.4, a COSC-certified movement with a silicon hairspring and a better-than-average running autonomy of 72 hours. Longines is even offering the new watch on a matching titanium bracelet or a nylon NATO-style strap.
Looking over the new Longines Spirit, I really see nothing to fault here. Sure, some might voice criticism for the longer style of lugs that Longines tends to prefer, but with the smaller 40mm diameter option (with a lug-to-lug of around 49mm), I can’t imagine it wearing too large on most average wrist sizes.
In remembering some of the more pernicious criticisms from when the Spirit was first launched, I recall some people voicing annoyance over the set of five applied stars above six o’clock on the dial. Really? I don’t mind it at all. In fact, to borrow a phrase from Jack, I think it only serves to enhance the layout of the dial furniture, a harmless accouterment that does in fact reference vintage Longines watches from the Admiral collection.
In fact, against my better judgment, I’m going to declare this latest example of the Longines Spirit to be the Black Bay 58 of pilot’s watches. It’s a no-date sport watch in a mid-size case that echoes vintage elements without leaning full tilt into the realm of fauxtina and the like. There’s even a carryover vintage element for us to argue over (Tudor Snowflake hands vs Longines applied stars).
For $2,500 and change, I really can’t see why this shouldn’t be an absolute hit. And remember – the Longines Spirit lineup as a whole is only one year old. If we’re already seeing releases as compelling as this in the collection, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
The sky’s the limit.
Reference Number: L3.810.1.53.2, 40mm on strap; L3.810.1.53.6, 40mm on bracelet; L3.8220.127.116.11, 42mm on strap; L3.818.104.22.168, 42mm on bracelet
Diameter: 40mm; 42mm
Thickness: Approximately 12mm
Case Material: Grade 5 titanium
Dial Color: Black
Indexes: Applied Arabic numerals
Lume: Yes, Super-LumiNova (glows blue)
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Titanium bracelet or black nylon strap
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Power Reserve: 72 hours
Frequency: 25,200 vph
Chronometer Certified: Yes, COSC
Additional Details: Silicon balance spring
Pricing & Availability
Price: $2,650, 40mm on strap; $2,950, 40mm on bracelet; $2,750, 42mm on strap; $3,050, 42mm on bracelet
Limited Edition: N/A