The new Longines Heritage 1973 Chronograph (refs. L2.7188.8.131.52 & L2.7184.108.40.206) automatic watch that was presented by Longines earlier this year, is based on their classic 1973 chronograph model. Although you can’t seriously call this new timepiece a reissue, the watch looks close to the original making it a serious competitor to vintage-styled chronographs that were introduced recently by Tudor and Tag Heuer.
The original model that was produced back in 1973 featured a more popular at that time bi-compax layout with a small seconds indicator at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 hours.
Since Longines for some reasons wanted to keep all three sub-dials of the modern chronograph movement that powers it in place, they attempted to blend the 12-hour totalizer in the dial. I must admit that the attempt was successful since the pair of counters at 3 and 9 o’clock with their high-contrast black-on-silver or silver-on-black color scheme indeed draw almost all attention to them leaving the lower sub-dial almost invisible.
Frankly, I wish they did something similar to the date aperture. Squeezed between the two hour markers at 4 and 5 hours, the rectangular window doesn’t look terrible per se, but when you compare the new watch to the original model, you clearly feel that the dial of this 2013 model is indeed too busy with features.
Also, a third version with an egg-shell dial would be totally a killer.
According to official specs, the watch is powered by the same well-known Longines caliber L688.2 that the company uses quite effectively to animate its chronographs (the mechanism, for example, can be found inside its Longines Conquest Classic Chronograph that was revealed at this year’s Baselworld 2013 trade show). Based on ETA A08.L01 ebauche, this column-wheel chronograph movement is modified by ETA exclusively for Longines to get their main manufacturer of relatively affordable watches an edge against other competitors that operate within this price segment.
Watches, even those that were considered sporty, used to be small (especially if you compare them to monsters that were released during the fat years that preceded the financial markets meltdown back in 2008 and four or five years after that), and this new wristwatch earnestly tries to look like them. Its cushion-shaped body measures just 40 millimeters in width and is just over 14 millimeters thick, which makes it feel comfortable on a normal wrist: there is no that feeling of a small dumbbell constantly weighing your hand down.
Personally, I think that this new Longines Heritage 1973 Chronograph is so far the best entry from the Swiss watchmaker in years. Of course, I would prefer if they managed to reinvent themselves and bring to market something totally new, but this reissue (or, rather, homage) is almost like a breath of fresh air among their other models that are neither especially bright, nor particularly inspiring with their generic, anonymous design.
It highly depends on pricing, but I will certainly pay a visit to the nearest Longines AD to try this compact, yet refreshingly sporty model on my own wrist, maybe will even buy one.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5
Longines Heritage 1973 Chronograph (refs. L2.7220.127.116.11 & L2.718.104.22.168) Automatic watch specification
Price: $3250 (Retail)
Movement: Automatic, Longines caliber L688.2 (base ETA A08.L01), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 27
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 54 hours
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Cushion
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.00 mm
Case height: 14.50 mm
Lug width: No data
Dial: Black (ref. L2.722.214.171.124) / Silver (ref. L2.7126.96.36.199)
Hour markers: Rhodium-plated, with luminous dots
Hands: Rhodium-plated, luminous
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with contrast stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire