In 1947, the French government sent several expeditions to explore both North and South Polar regions of Earth. Somehow missing the 60th Anniversary of the events and not willing to spend three more years waiting for the 70th Anniversary to happen, Longines has presented its vintage-styled Expeditions Polaires Francaises — Missions Paul-Emile Victor (Ref. L2.732.4.76.X) just for the fun of it.
Although not particularly fond of Longine’s current model line-up, I find their “vintage” offerings quite appealing. Like the self-winding Lindbergh’s Atlantic Voyage chronograph that was first unveiled in January 2010, this new timepiece may become a great buy for just about any enthusiast obsessed with the “classic” models.
Unlike the aforementioned gargantuan Lindbergh’s Atlantic Voyage, the Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises — Missions Paul-Emile Victor has been re-issued in a relatively small case, almost matching in size the original model. Measuring only 38.5 mm in diameter, it is also thin, especially by modern standards.
The watch owes its slimness to the Longines caliber L619, which is based on the time-proven ETA 2892-A2 automatic movement. Being only 3.6 mm thin, the base movement is also used in “slim” models from other major brands, such as the (*sigh*) IWC Portofino, Porsche Design Flat Six P’6310, and Sotirio Bvlgari Date Retrograde, just to name a few.
The ebauche is generally available to select buyers in three grades: Elaborated, Top and Chronometer and it is not clear, which one of the first two is used in this particular model. Anyway, all three grades are sufficiently accurate and reliable.
I hadn’t the pleasure of seeing in real life any of the original watches issued for the Paul-Emile Victor missions and so I cannot tell you how “authentic” the new model is, but, judging by the pictures, this one is close to the “military” watches produced by Longines and other European watchmakers during the 1940s.
Of course, due to advances in technology, the blued steel hands look more refined and the thick layer of luminous substance (previously it was Radium, but this time they used SuperLuminova, which is a lot safer) seems to be more neatly applied to them. Also, equipped with the hand-wound Longines 12.68N caliber, the original watch lacked the small date window at 3 o’clock.
The rest of the dial remains true to the original with its classic convex shape, odd numerals substituted with arrow-shaped hour markers, and a high-contrast minute scale printed on the outer part of the dial. Just like one might expect both Arabic numerals and indices are covered with SuperLuminova providing for superb reading in night conditions.
All things considered, the success of Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises — Missions Paul-Emile Victor depends on the official retail price. If the Swiss brand will manage to keep the MSRP lower than $1200, count me in!
Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises — Missions Paul-Emile Victor specification (Ref. L2.732.4.76.X)
Price range: $1400 (MSRP)
Movement: Longines caliber L619, automatic, based on ETA 2892-A2, 21 jewels, 28,800 vph, Swiss Made
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 38.50 mm
Case height: 9.50 mm
Numerals: Arabic, printed in SuperLuminova
Hands: Steel, heat-blued
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black leather or Brown alligator with steel buckle
Back: Solid stainless steel with “Expedition Arctique – Groenland, Expedition Antarctique – Terre Adelie” engraving