With its stainless steel body deliberately oversized to remind you of those gigantic pilot’s watches of the pre-WWII era, and a modern self-winding movement with column-wheel chronograph system, this Longines Twenty-Four Hours Single Push-Piece Chronograph (ref. L2.7220.127.116.11) delivers a strong blend of masculine presence, clever industrial design and technical ingenuity. However, the price that Longines wants you to pay for the piece is steep putting it into the same category with such established (but, thankfully, too common) monsters as Tag Heuer Carrera, Omega Speedmaster and, of course, IWC Portofino: a pocket watch-based enfant terrible that started it all. Will the vintage-style design save this beautiful specimen? Well, time will certainly tell.
First introduced back in 2009, the ETA A08 base movement marked Swatch Group’s parting with the ubiquitous ETA Valjoux 7750 family of chronograph calibers. Smaller, more efficient and featuring a column-wheel chronograph system, the mechanism in its many variations became a movement of choice for Longines, which happens to be the main beneficiary of the Swiss-based juggernaut that not only ensures a constant flow of high-quality movement to one of Swatch Group’s main milk cows, but also fine-tunes the mechanisms to Longines’ specs.
This new Longines Twenty-Four Hours Chronograph (ref. L2.718.104.22.168), for example, is powered by the new Caliber L789.2, which is based on ETA A08.L21 ebauche and, as usual, is manufactured and customized by ETA exclusively for Longines.
Although the mechanism, as I have already noted, is smaller even than the good ole 7750 and, let’s face it, is dwarfed by a normal pocket watch movement of the pre-WWII era, the dial of the timekeeper doesn’t look out of proportion. Compared to many oversized watches that were designed around tiny calibers, this specimen has a well-designed face.
Yes, the subsidiary seconds indicator at 9 hours and the date window, which is placed at 6 o’clock (well, actually, those are 18 and 12 hours respectively since the gadget features a military-style 24-hour scale), make it quite easy to see that Cal. L789.2 is a bit too small for a device that measures impressive 47.50 millimeters in diameter. However, placement of the elements looks organic: you never get that “they did it wrong” feeling when admiring this silver-toned (pictured) or deep black job.
The effect is partly achieved with ideally proportioned blued hands and by the deliberately disconnected hours and minutes scales with the latter reminding of classic mechanical stopwatches.
Perhaps, the only thing that won’t feel as good as the rest of the timepiece is the oversized setting crown. Designed to look as “historic” as possible and also holding the single chronograph push-piece, the part may become a source of constant annoyance and probably even exquisite pain for some persons. Of course, it looks organic and even authentic, but, again, if you don’t plan to wear it pilot-style secured on your bomber jacket cuff with an aviator extension clasp, the Longines Twenty-Four Hours may sometime feel a bit uncomfortable.
Well, what’s disconcerting is the price that the Swiss brand wants for this gadget. Offered at $4800, this is one heck of an expensive trinket.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 3/5
Longines Twenty-Four Hours Chronograph Monopusher (ref. L2.722.214.171.124) specification
Price: $4800 USD
Movement: Automatic, Caliber L789.2 (base ETA A08.L21), column-wheel chronograph, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 27
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 54 hours
Functions: 24 hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 47.50 mm
Dial: Black / Silver (pictured)
Hour markers: Black
Hands: Rhodium-plated / Blued (pictured)
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black or brown alligator strap with buckle featuring aviator’s extension clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Closed back, Longines “Hourglass” logo engraved