Though it was not unveiled to the press during Baselworld this year, the inquisitive were given a chance to take a closer look at a new Heritage model that Longines was planning to launch this year. And now, the Saint-Imier-based watchmaker has turned the clock ahead to the Second World War to create the Heritage Military Watch, and a specific timepiece worn by a decorated veteran of Britain’s Royal Air Force.
The historical watches that provided the blueprint for the contemporary piece were designed for, and issued to, members of the RAF during the 1940s. The model from which the Heritage Military takes its direct design cues was worn by radiotelelegraph operator Stanley Turner aboard an RAF aircraft during World War II, and recovered by a collector in England. (This year, not coincidentally, marks the 100th anniversary of the RAF.)
The watch’s 38.5-mm case evokes the dimensions of the original, which was only slightly more modest in size, at 32.5 mm. The vintage watch’s oversized winding crown, designed for ease of use while at the controls in a cockpit, has also made its way into the design of the modern timepiece, as has the box-form crystal over the dial.
The opaline dial, which indicates the time via period-appropriate blued steel hands and Arabic numerals, achieves an intriguing “faux patina” through a fine misting of paint droplets used to mimic the oxidation found on the dials of historical models. The process, used for the first time by Longines and executed entirely by hand, makes each model unique in a subtle way.
Another notable detail: despite the presence inside the case of a self-winding mechanical movement, the dial remains true to its 1940s aesthetic by eschewing the use of “Automatic” on the dial, making it the only automatic Longines watch in the current collection to do so.
Behind the solid caseback is the aforementioned automatic movement, Longines Caliber L.888.2, based on the ETA A31.L01, which beats at a frequency of 25,200 vph and stores a power reserve of 64 hours. Two suitably military-themed straps are provided with each watch, along with a tool to easily swap them: an olive-drab “aged” leather strap and a canvas NATO strap in classic military green. The Longines Heritage Military will hit retailers in early 2019, priced at $2,150.