Legend of the Deep: A Look at the Longines Legend Diver Watch

Comparing vintage watches to new ones is kind of like comparing a classic car with something fresh off the lot. That is to say, they’re different in pretty much every aspect that counts, especially where maintenance and reliability are concerned. For anyone who’s looking for a golden-era diver, but doesn’t want the hassle of owning a 50-plus-year-old watch, however, the Longines Legend Diver delivers 1960s vibes and modern reliability in equal measure.  

Longines launched the Legend Diver in 2007, but its story goes back much further, to the days when Jacques Cousteau was a major celebrity and scuba technology was exciting and new. To explore the undersea world, of course, you needed a watch that was not just waterproof but also visible in low light and extremely durable. Longines, a longstanding maker of watches for aviators and explorers, entered the fray with the Longines Diver reference 7042 in the early 1960s. It had big, ultra-legible numerals and a self-winding movement, but its most iconic feature was its “Super Compressor” case. Featuring two crowns, one for setting the time and the other for rotating the internal dive bezel, the Longines Diver reference 7042’s unique case immediately stood out among other designs of the era. As a modern tribute to this pioneering watch, the modern Longines Legend Diver maintains all of the visual appeals of the original, while adding some thoughtful modern touches.  

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Following the success of the original no-date Legend Diver, Longines added a date window to its next Legend Diver model, released two years later. In 2022, the collection has grown to include more than half a dozen Legend Divers, each with its own subtle variations to the iconic original design. Among the best-selling models are the 42mm Legend Diver, available with a choice of black, blue, or brown dials and several straps, including stainless steel mesh. While these are powered by a modern automatic Swiss movement with 72 hours’ power reserve, details like a box sapphire crystal and tropical-tinted lume give them plenty of vintage cred. Other options include models with black PVD coating, as well as a selection of Legend Divers with 36mm cases — one of few dive watches from any brand to come in this size. Don’t let the compact diameter fool you. Even at 36mm, the long flat lugs of the Legend Diver make it wear a fair bit larger than this figure suggests.

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The next addition to the Legend Diver family added even more uniqueness to the collection with a green gradient dial, a titanium case back, and a 42mm case in polished bronze. As it interacts with air, water and your skin, this rich lustrous material will gain a subtle patina over time, adding another layer of visual interest and individuality.

This week, Longines added another five Legend Divers (from $2,900) to the lineup, featuring three new dial colours and four new straps, in both 42mm and 36mm sizes. The 42mm version includes sand beige and ash grey gradient dials and matching fabric straps, including one NATO-style option. The new 36mm references, meanwhile, come in burgundy and sand beige, as well as a royal blue option with a colour-coordinated leather strap. Like every Legend Diver, these models feature luxurious details like perlage finishing on the movement and clasp, as well as Longines’ frogman logo embossed on the case back. Aside from Longines’ 5-year warranty on all new automatic watches, it is details like these that make the strongest case for the modern Legend Diver as the perfect combination of new and old. While a faithful tribute to one of the most famous designs from the 1960s, Longines has clearly worked hard to find every possible way to make it better.

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Learn more about the Longines Legend Diver here.