When It Comes to Aviation in the Watch World, Longines Is Flying High

When we talk about brands that are known for pilot’s watches, Longines isn’t usually at the top of the list — which makes it all the more surprising that the 189-year-old watchmaker has made what might be the year’s best new pilot’s watch. A departure from Longines’s usual fare of tasteful modern dress watches and archival reboots, the Spirit collection reveals something new about the brand: a deep heritage as a leader in aviation. “When we launched the Spirit collection last year, many people’s first reaction was, ‘Another watch brand making pilot watches,’” says Longines CEO Matthias Breschan. “But when you look at the history of Longines in aviation, it’s one of the richest in the industry.”

It all started, Breschan says, when Longines developed the first wrist-worn chronograph in 1913. As word spread of Longines’s skill at crafting durable precision instruments, the era’s leading explorers and aviators began approaching the brand to outfit them for their expeditions. “In the 1920s, many of these aviators — starting with Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Howard Hughes — counted on Longines’s timing instruments,” Breschan says, adding that Longines was also the inventor of the flyback chronograph and the GMT movement, both of which represented breakthroughs for the world of aviation. “Of course, today, when you buy an aviation watch, it doesn’t mean you’re going to go fly your own helicopter,” he says. “You’re buying a world of emotion.”

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The Case:

Available in both 40 mm and 42 mm sizes, the newest addition to the growing Spirit lineup is a case made from Grade 5 titanium. In use in aircraft design since the 1950s, titanium possesses a unique combination of low weight and high strength, which makes it an attractive material for watchmakers as well. Longines uses an alloy made of titanium, aluminum, and vanadium to create the Spirit, lending it a sleek matte finish and a darker hue than steel.

The Palette:

In tribute to the minerals that make up its alloy, the new Spirit is executed in shades of grey, from the satin-polished finish on the case and bracelet links to the sandblasted anthracite dial and satin black flange. The hands, numerals, and other dial details, meanwhile, contrast subtly with the addition of warm yellow gold.

The Movement:

In the 2020s, as in the 1920s, Longines remains at the forefront of mechanical watchmaking, outfitting every Spirit model with a Swiss automatic movement certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) for exceptional accuracy. This is achieved in part thanks to the Spirit’s silicon balance spring, which is lightweight, antimagnetic, and resistant to thermal expansion.

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The Bracelet:

The Spirit Titanium comes with a choice of two straps (easily interchangeable thanks to Longines’s innovative bracelet system): one in brushed titanium, the other in woven nylon. The nylon strap was custom-developed with a special weaving technique that combines black and anthracite colours, which act as a visual tie to the watch’s dial.

The Legacy:

The hands and numerals of the Spirit Titanium are finished in “Blue Line” Super-LumiNova. Besides providing superior low-light visibility, this finishing touch also serves as a dedication to those brave men and women who explore the skies and a recognition of Longines’s long heritage outfitting them for their adventures in style.

Learn more about the Longines Spirit Titanium here.