With its lovingly reproduced look and feel of the original Longines CAF pilot’s watch that the Swiss brand has first introduced almost 80 years ago (it was actually an evolution of one of their even older models from the 1920s), the new Longines Heritage 1935 (Ref. L2.7220.127.116.11) gives you a perfect chance to own a timekeeper that perfectly blends the unique design language of the pre-war era with modern technology.
When the history of your brand spans for almost 200 years, you don’t really need to invent homages to some “legendary” and “classic” models that nobody has ever heard of. You just take a couple of good photos of a watch that was extremely popular 80 years ago and just make a modern version of it. And while the mechanism that powers it will be a modern automatic and the exterior of the timekeeper (let’s face it) will almost never be one hundred percent historically correct, you will still get a superb-looking piece of art that will be relevant even today when a concept of a “smart watch” seems to be as hip as a personal computer back in early eighties.
This new Longines Heritage 1935, for example, is based on a limited edition model that the Swiss brand has introduced back in 1935 for the Czech Air Force that was, too, quite hip at the time: although the country didn’t fare particularly well during subsequent World War II, they had a number of factories that made very impressive planes (as a matter of fact, they still make one of the best training jets in Europe), and their aerobatics pilots were considered among the best in Europe. So, it is no wonder that the limited edition watch, too, was quite successful not only among the aviators, but also among the general public.
As you may have already guessed, this is not a “re-issue” in a true meaning of the word. The first thing that you will notice is a date aperture that now shares the space at 6 o’clock with a small seconds indicator. The reason for the change is, of course, the fact that the original mechanism that was originally designed for small pocket watches was replaced with a modern Caliber L.615 automatic movement, which is a version of the very well-known ETA 2895-2 base movement (it is actually the same engine that animates the 2012 Longines Heritage 1940 Small Seconds (Ref. L2.767.4.13/53.2)). Taking into account that the original movement was not really impressive both in terms of design and finish, the change probably did the new timekeeper good.
Although they could have just stripped the watch of the calendar function getting a more historically correct (well, at least visually historically correct) version of the legendary timepiece, somebody in the marketing apparently decided that the lack of the date window would hinder the Heritage 1935 sales.
The cushion-shaped body of the new watch has also grown a bit bigger in size now measuring whole 42 millimeters wide.
What I really like here is the quality of finish. While military watches that were issued before WWII were often quite crude with their design and parts, well, often rudimentary, this one makes sure that you would never regret any single euro you will pay for this beauty. As you can see on the photos, the hands are well done and carefully covered with white Superluminova, the bold Arabic numerals are so fine they are almost perfect. And, of course, the stainless steel case with its mirror polished edges looks very expensive, yet very subtle.
At an approximate price of just around €1600 (just over $2200 USD), this is absolutely a steal.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 4.5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Longines Heritage 1935 Automatic Pilot’s Watch (Ref. L2.718.104.22.168) watch specification
Movement: Automatic, Caliber L615 (base ETA 2895/2), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 27
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Cushion
Bezel shape: Round, notched
Case size: 42.00 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: No data
Dial: Matt black
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Hands: Cathedral, luminous
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with contrast stitching and stainless steel buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Solid