For the year ending December 2017, it was reported by some reliable sources that Longines is now the third largest by turnover in the industry after Rolex and Omega. A dream and a wish of Walter von Kânel expressed in the interview with our Chief Editor, now achieved. Looking back at the last year releases, we can see some interesting pieces: the classic, vintage looking Longines Heritage 1945, or the grand winner of the prize “Revival” of the 2017’s Grand Prix de L’Horlogerie de Geneve, the Longines Avigation BigEye. Longines celebrated its 185 anniversary last year with exhibitions in Singapore and other locations, where iconic pieces were on display. Following the success of the Master Collection timepieces, the brand enriches the collection with a mechanical annual calendar. The Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar is an entry-level priced piece with a complication usually encountered on more expensive wristwatches. We visited Longines booth at Baselworld 2018 and we got the chance to have a look at this new addition. This is our hands-on review.
Review: Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar
The author listed this Annual Calendar in his Top 5 picks from Baselworld 2018. The reasons are simple: an appropriate good looking piece with a function not often met in a mechanical, self-winding watch within the entry level price category, This annual calendar is possibly the lowest price ever offered.
The case, dial and hands
The first thought that comes to the mind is how lovely the watch was. Picking the watch between the Longines’ novelties it stands out with a classic appearance. The case is manufactured in stainless steel. At 40mm diameter, we find the choice of the case size excellent. The integration and shape of the polished lugs are proportional to the watch’s size. The large width of the convex bezel is comparable with the lugs width. The consequence is an elegant shape that transcends the time and fashion.
The visual balance is excellent. Somewhat between a vintage, small classical dress watch and and modern styling makes for one good looking watch. Regardless the size of the wrist, the Annual Calendar fits the wrist elegantly. For the classicalgentleman, or lady (why not? – in these days, more and more ladies willing to wear a men’s watch, particularly for its complications).
The case is accompanied by a steel crown with excellent grip. We were impressed by the efficiency of using and setting of the somehow small crown. Its appearance contributes to the vintage feeling. The case and crown offer 30 meters of water resistance, enough for this watch.
The watch is accompanied by a black, blue or brown alligator strap fitted with a push-piece triple folding clasp. The watch is easy to put on the wrist and to take off, the clasp being robust and well built. A stainless steel bracelet with the same triple safety folding clasp is available as an option. The bracelet variant has a sportier look, without missing out on the elegance of the leather strap.
The Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar comes with four dial options. The reviewed piece comes with a silver barleycorn-stamped dial. The pleasant pattern is adorned with printed Arabic numerals. The other three versions are: a black barleycorn-stamped dial with Roman numerals, a silver barleycorn-stamped dial with diamond indexes and a blue sunray dial with applied baton indexes. All the versions are equally handsome, picking one over another being just a matter of personal taste.
The inner bezel, in the colour of the dial, serves as minutes/seconds indication having a chapter ring with printed indexes and Arabic numerals. The Annual Calendar is a three hand design with blued steel leaf hands on the reviewed piece. The other variants have rhodium-plated hands.
The annual calendar uses two apertures at three o’clock to display the month and the date. All four variation use the same black printing on white background. While the purist might argue the “poor” design, the price fully justifies it. The general legibility is excellent due to high contrast.
The watch is fitted on the back side with a see-through transparent case-back that offers a good view of the Calibre L897.2. The case back bears engravings of the name of the collection, the code and serial number, along with the water resistance and material.
The movement L897.2 (ETA A31.L81)
The star of this timepiece is the new movement L897.2. This movement was designed by ETA under the code A31.L81 especially for Longines. The base movement used for development is the widely known ETA2892-A2, revised and with annual calendar module added. There are two surprising features of the calibre L897.2. First is the 3.5Hz operating frequency. The unusual speed, also found in the Omega co-axial movements.The claim is that it offers the chronometric capabilities of the 4Hz movements and the long run robustness of the 3Hz calibres. We may surmise that this technical choice is part of the knowledge sharing between SWATCH Group sister companies.
The second surprising feature and the star of this movement is the annual calendar complication. As a complication, the annual calendar is a very desirable function. The complication was first invented by Patek Philippe for the Ref. 5035 and quickly became very popular. It is automatically adjusted to display the correct date on the 30 and 31 day months. The watch needs only one correction per year, at the end of February.
The Longines Calibre L897.2 offers a nice 64 hours of power reserve. The finishes are adequate for an industrial machined movement. We can observe the classical perlage and the Côtes de Genève. The rotor weight is bears the brand name and caliber name. A small cut-out in the shape of the Longines’ logo on the rotor allows a playful sneak peek at what is below.
The Competitive Landscape
For a watch priced at S$ 3,350 inclusive of GST for the strap version or around 2000 (€ or US$, plus/minus depending on the currencies, taxes and so on), the Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar is a hard-to-beat choice. In our knowledge, there are no other mechanical watches with this complication and in this price sector.
We have in mind, as another extraordinary timepiece, the official watch of the Musée International d’Horlogerie – the MIH watch. This watch wears the signature of Ludwig Oechslin, the museum’s curator. Oeschlin designed the movement and collaborated with master watchmaker Paul Gerber, the industrial designer Christian Gafner and the Lucerne’s watch specialist EMBASSY, for this minimalistic annual calendar. Priced at then the low, low price, CHF6,000 (tax included). The titanium case and buckle have a water resistance of 10bar/100m. The calendar complication was based on the ETA-Valjoux7750. The stopwatch function with minute counter was designed by Paul Gerber. The MIH watch was available exclusively from the International Horological Museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds or online at the Embassy.ch.
Within the SWATCH Group, sister brand Omega offers the Omega Globemaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer Annual Calendar. Launched in 2016, the watch features a 41mm case the Calibre 8922 (based on the co-axial escapement calibre 8900). The annual calendar with an instantaneous jump and central-hand month indication is a lovely interpretation. The watch is priced at US$8900 or €7,700 for the steel version.
The Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar is a lovely watch. As the Competitive Landscape paragraph has shown, it sets a new entry level price for the mechanical annual calendar.
The design is pleasant, the wrist feel is excellent and the handling easy. The new Longines Annual Calendar can be a starting point for a new collector or a guilty pleasure of an avid collector. Regardless from which direction you look, high complication or low price, the timepiece manages to touch both of the worlds. Well done Longines.
Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar Specification and Price
Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar is available in four variants:
- L2.910.4.78.3 Blued steel hands on a silver barleycorn-stamped dial, complemented by a brown alligator watch strap fitted with a folding safety clasp. Price: S$3,350 / €1,940
- L2.910.4.51.7 Rhodium-plated hands on a black barleycorn-stamped dial, complemented by a black alligator watch strap fitted with a folding safety clasp. Price: S$3,350 / €1,940
- L2.910.4.77.6 Rhodium-plated hands on a silver barleycorn-stamped dial, diamond indexes, complemented by a steel bracelet fitted with a folding safety clasp. Price: S$3,910 / €2,260
- L2.910.4.92.6 Rhodium-plated hands on a blue sunray dial, complemented by a steel bracelet fitted with a folding safety clasp. Price: S$3,350 / €1,940
Calibre: Caliber L897.2 (ETA A31.L81)
Type: Self-winding mechanical movement
Dimension: Ø 11 1/2 lines
Frequency: 25’200 vibrations per hour / 3.5Hz
Power Reserve: 64 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, annual calendar at 3 o’clock displaying day and month
Material: stainless steel
Dimensions of the case: Ø40mm
Case-back: Transparent case back
Water resistance: 3bar / 30meters
Dial: Silver-finished stamped “barleycorn”, 12 Arabic numerals / Silver-finished stamped “barleycorn”, 13 diamond indexes / Black stamped “barleycorn”, 12 Roman numerals / Sunray blue, 12 indexes
Hands: Blued steel or rhodium-plated
Material: Black, blue or brown alligator
Buckle: Triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism
Bracelet: Stainless steel and rose gold cap with triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism
More info on Longines Website