I don’t know whether it is the postmodern lack of new ideas or an attempt to return to the brand’s roots, but, during the recent years, Longines shows a great interest in its past. There were dozens of vintage-styled models paying homage to the period starting in the 1910s and going all the way to the 1970s. This new Longines Avigation Oversize Crown GMT (Ref. L2.778.4.53) takes the “homage” idea a step or two further offering a well-balanced compilation of its 1920s trench watches.
Longines’ watches of that era are characterized by the use of so-called ‘Borgel’ cases that were decorated with fluted bezels and sported painfully long winding crowns that allowed manipulating the timepieces even in gloved hands (for an example of a typical 1920s Longines you may want to consult a respective page on this gorgeous website wholly dedicated to vintage timekeepers.)
While not a re-issue, the new Longines Avigation Oversize Crown GMT (Ref. L2.778.4.53) recreates all these visual elements of style, but on a new technological level.
Since hand-wound movements are not popular these days (at least, in this niche), the watch is equipped with a bullet-proof Longines caliber L704.2, which is in fact a fairly new ETA Valgranges A07.171 blank movement that was fine-tuned by ETA exclusively for the Swiss watchmaker.
Besides featuring a different type of movement (and probably because of the new movement, since the L704.2 is not particularly small), the watch is also considerably larger than most of Longines trench watches of the time: it comes in a polished stainless steel body 41 millimeters in diameter.
Marketed as a “pilot’s watch”, the Avigation Oversize Crown GMT has its classic “pear”-shaped hands filled with Superluminova (ninety years ago they were usually skeletonized and lacked any lume whatsoever), while both sets of Arabic numerals are painted with silver-toned lume.
Being a GMT watch, there is a secondary, arrow-shaped hour hand that points at the secondary hour scale. Printed in 24-hour format, the scale allows to easily tell AM from PM: a feature that you will love if you happen to circle Earth aboard of the International Space Station or live somewhere within the polar circle.
By the way, the fluted bezel has a small triangular mark at 12 hours and can be turned in any direction, which makes this beautiful piece not only a watch but also an expensive Pomodoro timer for the kind of persons obsessed with productivity.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Longines Avigation Oversize Crown GMT (Ref. L2.778.4.53) specification
Movement: Automatic, Longines caliber L704.2 (base ETA Valgranges A07.171), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 24
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 48 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, second time zone (GMT)
Case, Bezel, Crown: Stainless steel
Size: 41.00 mm
Numerals: Arabic (12/24-hour format), luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Hands: Pear-shaped, luminous
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with contrasting white stitching, on a steel buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Solid, engraved