Longines is a watch manufacturer that has garnered a fair bit of interest amongst collectors in recent years. This is predominantly driven by the Heritage series, which produced some of the most compelling and stunning vintage re-issues over the last decade.
Again, this phenomenon can be possibly attributed to the vast repertoire of watches in Longines’ archives – which dates to almost two centuries back. Some of the vintage Longines watches are pretty amazing, which naturally translates to re-issues that are of equal standing as well. The St-Imier manufacturer certainly has a clear advantage over many of the other competing brands out there in this respect.
When Longines recently invited us to view their novelties for this year, there was this sense of expectation. We knew the brand was strong in its Heritage line, but we were also slightly afraid that it might fall short after consecutive years of outperformance.
And then, we saw Longines Silver Arrow.
The Longines Silver Arrow
The Longines Silver Arrow is priced at S$2,950.
The Longines Silver Arrow is a simple three-hand watch, based on the original timepiece that first debuted in 1956. Named after the renowned German sports cars that were a fixture on race tracks back the yesteryear, the watch certainly endeavoured to pursue the kind of success that is enjoyed by those cars that bore the very same namesake.
Interestingly, as pointed out by some other journalists, the Silver Arrow was also reintroduced earlier in 2009 – albeit in the form of a 38.5mm watch that features a date indicator and a less detailed stick indices. It was still a remarkably nice watch nonetheless.
Now, back to the 2021 iteration. This version is much closer to the original version, but with some tweaks. How does it stand against the original model, as well as the 2009 variant? Let us find out!
The Case, Dial and Hands
The Silver Arrow is a subtle and elegant piece, and Longines had retained these characteristics by introducing the watch with a case dimension of 38.5mm. This is similar to the 2009 iteration, but it is definitely a tad smaller than most modern watches these days. We are, however, glad that Longines had taken this step as the watch certainly looks immaculate and prim with a relatively smaller case.
Design-wise, the case is rather simple. It features a pair of elongated lugs, as well as a thin bezel. These are hallmarks of a dress-watch, and we do think it works well with three-hand watches that are gunning for the more minimalistic and classy looks.
Moving on, the highlight of the piece certainly lies in the dial. One interesting point to note is the colour of it – it ranges between white to a very subtle yet tasteful shade of cream under different lighting conditions. In certain angles and lighting, in fact, it does look like a light custard (or tau huey, for a more localised context) especially with its smooth texture. We do enjoy the effects, and it certainly gives the watch different dimensions – with white being modern, and cream being more rustic and classic.
The indices are also another noteworthy point. Similar to the original iteration, the applied indices are corrugated. Visually, the indices are stunning especially when it reflects light at different angles. It also provides a nice touch to the three-hand watch, where small details as such are appreciated and much valued by collectors. This is certainly a step up from the 2009 iteration, and it is certainly something that makes the Silver Arrow a little more special as well.
Finally, we have the hands. Longines opted for the lozenge hands, which is identical to the original 1956 iteration as well. It is applied with a thin strip of luminescence material, which allows one to see in the dark. Frankly, we could have done without that, as it does look a wee bit out of place with the theme. However, we do understand that sometimes, there are collectors who opt for functionality over these minor indiscretions.
Overall, we do think the Silver Arrow is a handsome watch. We like its classic looks – from the creamy dial, to the corrugated indices and the cursive fonts that were used at the six o’clock position. In fact, we do go as far to say that this is perhaps the best looking watch of Longines’ 2021 novelties by a margin. The brand has certainly got it right again when it comes to the Heritage line.
The Movement: Calibre L888
Powering the Silver Arrow is the Calibre L888, a movement that is probably familiar with most collectors who are acquainted with Longines watches. This is a self-winding movement that beats at 25,200 vph, and it boasts a decent power reserve of around 72 hours.
The watch is fitted with a solid caseback, and hence we are unable to ascertain the level of finishing of the watch. From what we have learnt thus far, we do reckon the L888 is probably treated with basic forms of finishing – which is expected of a timepiece at this price point. Anything beyond the industrial-grade finishing will be an additional bonus, but we are not too particular about this for an entry-level piece.
The Longines Silver Arrow is priced at S$2,950. At this price point, we do think that it offers great value – considering its quality and looks. In fact, we do go as far to say that it is a very compelling choice for a new collector who is looking for his or her first entry-level luxury watch with a rich history and strong brand pedigree.
It is also notable to point out that Longines are not the only ones who make great entry-level watches, and offer them at strong price points as well. Here are some of the other competitors that might give the Longines a run for its money as well.
First, we have a timepiece from the sister brand in Swatch Group: Rado Golden Horse. Similar to the Silver Arrow, the Golden Horse is a modern interpretation of the original iteration that was produced in the 1950s. Our favourite variation of the 37mm Golden Horse is the one with the brilliant red gradient dial (as pictured above), although understandably it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Priced at S$2,560, this is another modestly-priced piece that is suitable for someone who wishes to kickstart their collection.
Digging into Longines’ archives, there are many other watches that can compete with the Silver Arrow on almost equal footing. The Heritage Classic – also known as the “Sector Dial” watch – is one of such watches. This is a little special, with a slightly unusual sector dial that mirrors a similar watch that was produced by Longines in the 1930s. This is a slightly less dressy alternative, but one that is a tad more interesting than the Silver Arrow in terms of its aesthetics. It is priced at S$3,180.
Lastly, we have the Kurono Tokyo Classic. A brainchild of the talented Hajime Asaoka, Kurono hopes to bring Hajime-san’s designs and philosophies to a large crowd. Previous iterations of the watches have been wildly successful, with watches sold out within minutes of its launch. We are massive fans of the 37mm Classic, in which there have been several iterations being launched since its inception in 2019. The latest variation (not pictured), termed the 朱鷺:TOKI, is priced at JPY 189,000 (approximately S$2,276). This is an incredible timepiece from an incredible personality in the scene – but being able to be allocated a piece remains to be elusive for some.
Longines had done it again. The Silver Arrow is an incredibly good-looking piece, and at a relatively reasonable price point as well. It is frankly rather difficult to find faults with this watch.
Throughout the two weeks that we have had this watch, all we can say is that the Silver Arrow certainly did rise to the occasion. Its slim profile and elegant looks certainly pairs well in a corporate setting, and its leather strap also allows it to work well in a more casual environment. The subtle and sleek watch is rather surprisingly versatile, and it certainly does its job quietly in the background.
In conclusion, the Silver Arrow ticks all the right boxes. This is another masterstroke from Longines, and it is certainly priced competitively amongst some of the other entry-level luxury watches that are available out there. Maybe, just maybe, if it was priced a few hundred dollars lower, we dare say that the Silver Arrow might have just hit the perfect home run.
Photographed in a suite in Kempinski Singapore, hosted by Longines. Fujifilm GFX 100S with 120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro and GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR with MCEX-18G WR and MCEX-45G WR extension tubes. Profoto strobes.