Although playing in different segments and delivering almost all kinds of styles, starting with the elegant and dressy La Grande Classique, sporty Conquest and finishing the picture with nicely executed (and also quite affordable) HydroConquest divers, the Swatch Group’s brand darling does an especially good job when it comes to vintage-styled timekeepers. Their recent run of 1940’s-inspired limited edition models is already in short supply, so, if you really crave for a similarly styled model, the new Longines Telemeter Automatic Chronograph (Ref. L2.780.4.18) may be just what the doctor ordered.
It looks like Longines didn’t have to invest millions of Swiss francs into developing of this model. Judging by the pictures, I can assume that the new Telemeter is based on their earlier Longines Column-Wheel Chronograph Record (Ref. L4.754.4.52/72.X) sporty wrist watch that was presented more than a year ago, in early 2011.
The new watch is delivered in the same stainless steel body that, measuring just 41 millimeters in diameter, will not only suit the majority of customers, but will also retain the spirit of pre-war dress watches that were, too, quite compact.
The face of the piece also looks easily recognizable.
Delivering the familiar tri-compax layout with a small date aperture between 4 and 5 hours that come courtesy of the relatively new Longines L688 column-wheel chronograph movement (it is based on ETA A08L01 ebauche that was fine-tuned by ETA exclusively for Longines), the dial of the piece is enhanced with a spiral-shaped tachymeter scale that lets you measure speeds ranging from 20 to more than 300 kilometers per hour.
Regrettably, the tachymeter scale overlaps the chronograph sub-dials and it is sometimes difficult to discern its reading, even on a close-up photo. On the other hand, nobody uses mechanical tachymeters any longer, so this legibility “issue” doesn’t look like a real usability problem to yours truly.
The reason for moving the scale from its usual place at the bezel flange was quite simple: Longines’ designers decided to place here another gauge. Called a ‘telemeter’, the scale measures not speed, but distance to a visible and audible event.
When you see a thunderbolt or (God forbid) an explosion, press the chronograph “Start” button and stop it when the sound reaches your ear. The blued steel central chronograph hand, which, for that matters, is nicely decorated with a spades-shaped counterweight, will give you a rough distance from you to ground zero.
According to official specs, the watch comes equipped with a pair of sapphire crystals front and back with the former sporting a nice antireflective coating, is delivered on a black alligator leather strap and sports a water resistance rating of 30 meters: just enough for a timekeeper, which is designed to be worn with a made-to-measure business suit.
Not sure about pricing, but it will probably retail for some $3500-$4000 USD.*
UPDATE ON PRICE: Right now Longines sells this model for only $3275 including taxes.
Longines Telemeter Automatic Chronograph (Ref. L2.780.4.18) specification
Price: $3275 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Longines L688 (base caliber ETA A08.L01), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 27
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 54 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph, tachymeter, telemeter
Case material: Stainless steel
Case size: 41.00 mm
Dial: White lacquer
Hour markers: Black
Hands: Steel, blued, Breguet-type
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with black stitching and polished steel buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire