If you’re looking for a very respectable amount of bang for the buck, you could do quite a bit worse than Longines, who have in recent years developed a very large collection of timepieces that are based on watches from their very long history (which, in one form or another, goes back to the early 1830s when Auguste Agassiz set up shop in St. Imier, and founded the company that would eventually become Longines.) The entire Heritage Collection, in fact, is a pretty rich trove of timepieces that offer pretty great value in one form or another, from the great looking Conquest Heritage to this fantastically old-school monopusher chronograph with trench-watch style lugs, and many others. We’re not saying every single one is a home run but there really is something here for just about everyone and in general, at very wallet-friendly prices.
We just recently got to spend several days with one that we really like a lot: the Heritage Dive Chronograph. This is a hefty chunk of nostalgia, 1960s style; like its mate, the time-only Longines Heritage Diver (we wrote both watches up back in May of 2014 when they launched at BaselWorld) it is based on a model Longines originally produced in the pre-quartz era. It’s a pretty faithful reproduction, though not a slavish one (a good thing, we think). The original had three subdials, not two, and no date, but the case details are largely unchanged right down to the size, and the general color scheme and dial design are more or less identical to the original as well, including the Paul Newman Daytona style subdial numerals.
Both the old and the new versions share an inner rotating bezel, controlled from a crown located at 10 o’clock. Probably the biggest difference between the two is the movement; the original was driven by the Valjoux 72, everyone’s favorite tractor/go-to chronograph movement from the post-war/pre-quartz era; the new version’s powered by what Longines calls the L651, which based on the different level of the chronograph pushers and crown, appears to be (possibly) a modular chrono of some description. In any case, it ain’t a Valjoux 72. One doesn’t really hold that against the watch, though, as at this price point in general you don’t find in-house movements in any case (an alert reader has pointed out that a notable exception is the Seiko Brightz series of automatic chronographs. –ed.) Probably a more valid point of comparison would be another fan favorite, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph, which comes in at a higher price point with a Sellita version of the venerable 7750 (that watch has its own particular value proposition which we last got into right here).
New Guy is also a legit, ISO 6425 compliant dive watch, thanks to its turning bezel and 300 meters of water resistance.
As with many of our favorite watches in the Value Proposition, there’s no one thing that is really make-or-break about the Heritage Chrono Diver, it’s really all the little details that make the whole thing stand up and sing, and especially for vintage watch and vintage dive watch lovers, the retention of such things as the faceted outer bezel, the helmet-style case, the red/white/black color scheme, and the crisp radial brushing on the top of the case, all conspire to make the watch a solidly satisfying presence on the wrist. Chronograph pusher feel doesn’t have the silk pyjama smoothness of a Lange or Patek but then, you aren’t paying Lange or Patek prices either – and it’s still pleasantly crisp, smooth and consistent. The Heritage Diver Chrono comes on a very well made rubber strap with folding clasp as well, although we’ve got it on a Hodinkee strap at the moment – this is a watch that lends itself well to the little pleasures of occasional strap-swapping.
Price for this one is easy to take: $3,750, all in. It’s definitely one of the sharper looking vintage-styled watches out there right now and its burly good looks go a long way towards proving just how well the design has aged – of its era, for sure, but also with an enduring appeal to go along with the tough-guy handsomeness. Great style, no skimping on materials, solid construction – all in all, we think a very strong Value Proposition.
As shown, the Longines Heritage Dive Chronograph is $3750. 43mm case, 300m water resistance, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating. Movement, Longines caliber L651, self-winding, 28,800 vph, 42 hour power reserve. Inner rotating bezel, center seconds hand with 30 minute counter. Shot on a HODINKEE shell cordovan strap. Check out the entire Heritage Collection from Longines right here.