It is going to be a year of remakes! At the upcoming Baselworld 2011 show, Longines will reveal its new Twenty-Four Hours (ref. L2.7220.127.116.11) “aviator.” Featuring everything a die-hard fan of vintage style could hope for (well, perhaps sans the movement since the new version comes powered by a modern self-winding mechanism), the new timekeeper is a good example of a “vintage-modern” pilot’s watch that successfully combines historic styling with reliability and ease of use provided by modern technology.
The Longines Twenty-Four Hours is essentially a slightly face-lifted reproduction of the 1950’s Longines three-hander that was ordered by the Swiss national airline, Swissair, for its pilots.
Compared to the original, the remake features a slightly bigger date aperture, more contrast dial layout, and its three hands are made of plain stainless steel, while the “historic” version featured hands made of gold: a material that is less prone to oxidation and, as the saying goes, better stands the test of time.
The onion-shaped winding crown is also a trifle larger.
The signature 24-hour scale is still in its place, though.
All Arabic numerals including the smaller ones on the railway-style minute track are printed with bright Superluminova that, together with thin strips of the same luminous compound on the hours and minutes hands, ensures adequate readability even if the lighting is not very good. Of course, the 24-hour display may be a bit hard to read at first, but, I am positive, you will get used to it in no time.
Sort of predictably, the Twenty-Four Hours will be sold in an oversized stainless steel case 47.50 mm in diameter.
While these photos sadly don’t give you an idea of how big this timepiece is, trust me: it is huge. Even despite its relatively short lugs, the watch will happily occupy your whole wrist (and then some, if you are one of those skinny types that are particularly interested in all things vintage if you know what I mean).
However, if you are ready to sacrifice all the living space on your wrist, you will not be disappointed with this little steel monster since all elements look proportional to each other and also nicely finished, although some may find the large crown a bit uncomfortable even despite its ergonomic shape.
Besides a normal for this class of timekeepers sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective coating, there is also an engraved “hunter” back cover that protects the sapphire display back.
Although I don’t see much practical value in this element, it still looks extremely cool.
Opened with a small pusher located at 4 o’clock, the cover then provides superb view at the Longines L704.2 automatic movement, which is based on the Valgranges A07-171 ebauche.
Introduced about five or six years ago as a response to the growing popularity of oversized mechanical watches, this member of ETA’s Mecaline family the Valgranges A07 is a larger version of the legendary ETA 7750 family. Although the line proved to be not terribly popular among independents due to the initial set of problems that plagued them at the start, as well as a high price tag that ETA sticks on them, I must assure you that updated versions of these mechanisms are both reliable and good at keeping time.
Availability & Price
Given the quality of movement that powers the L2.718.104.22.168, its MSRP of approximately $3300 (depends on the market, as usual) doesn’t seem to be too high, although I would have waited a bit before these devices appeared in online stores to save at least 25 percent of its price.
See also: Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises — Missions Paul-Emile Victor (Ref. L2.732.4.76.X)
Build quality: 4.5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 3/5
Value for money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Longines Twenty-Four Hours (ref. L2.722.214.171.124) specification
Price: $3300 (Retail)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber Longines L704.2 (base Valgranges A07-171,) 24 jewels, 28,800 vph, Swiss Made
Functions: 24 Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Power reserve: 48 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 47.50 mm
Hands: Steel, luminous
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black leather with contrasting white stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Sapphire, with stainless steel solid pocket watch-style “hunter” cover