Longines has unveiled a handsome vintage-inspired column wheel chronograph that pays homage to the pilot’s watches it made in the 1930s. The Avigation BigEye is the latest addition to the brand’s Heritage line of watches that houses reissues of all their past classics. It is no doubt a great looking reissue and the fact that it is powered by a traditional chronograph movement should leave vintage enthusiasts happy.
Longines has a history of making aviation and military watches and some of these watches have been re-issued in their vintage line over the last few years. Notable among them is the Heritage 1935 which was inspired by the Longines Majetek Vojensk Sprav issued to the Czech Air Force. The BigEye uses a brushed steel 41 mm stainless steel fitted with a sapphire glass box like the plexiglass crystals seen in vintage chronographs. The chronograph pushers, shaped like pistons, are positioned at 2 and 4 o’ clock.
The dial is typical of the pilots watches made in the 1930s and 40s and legibility is key. The semi-glossy back dial has Arabic numerals coated with SuperLuminova and follows a three-register layout. The subdial at 9 o’ clock displays the small seconds, the 12 hour-counter is anchored at 6 and the oversized 30-minutes counter (the “BigEye”) is placed at 3 o’ clock. The dial is fitted with sand-blasted rhodium-plated hours and minutes hands. Thankfully, a date window – a concession Longines frequently makes to modernity in its Heritage line – is absent here, much to the delight of vintage enthusiasts.
The watch is powered by Caliber L688.2, a self-winding mechanical movement with column wheel chronograph mechanism. The L688.2 is actually the ETA Valgranges A08.L01 that was developed for Longines and Omega. It uses a 4 Hz (28,800 vph) escapement and has a power reserve of 54 hours.
Though ETA makes the reliable and widely-used 7750 movement on an industrial scale, this type of movement uses a cam-switch for the chronograph function. So in 2006, ETA developed the Valgranges family, based on the 7750, but equipped with a column wheel, a chronograph mechanism that is considered more traditional (and more exclusive) than the cam-switching ones. On the A08.L01, the chronograph function has been completely reworked with a column wheel mechanism. It uses a vertical clutch with oscillating pinion, and has a novel self-adjusting two-armed reset hammer.
The watch is paired with a distressed brown calf-leather strap and is priced at $2,625 (AED9,642).