At Baselworld 2015, Longines has expanded its line of vintage-styled timekeepers. Besides the gorgeous Tachymeter and Telemeter models that were first presented back in 2012, the Swiss-based brand will also soon start selling their new Longines Pulsometer Chronograph (ref. L2.801.4.23.2) automatic wristwatch.
Looking suspiciously close to 1998 limited edition Ulysse Nardin Monopulsante (ref. 386-22) and new Omega Museum (ref. 5184.108.40.206.09.001) save for gold alloys of the more expensive models that were replaced with cheaper stainless steel, this is not a rip off, but is actually a respectful tribute to a model that was manufactured by Longines back in 1920s.
The watch is powered by Caliber L788.2 automatic movement with hacking seconds for more accurate time adjustment and an advanced anti-shock device. Being in fact a version of the ETA caliber A08.L11 that was built to Longines’ higher quality standards, it is the same movement that also animated their earlier Column-Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph 180th Anniversary that went on sale three years ago.
The caliber features a so-called “monopusher” design that allows you to control the chronograph function with a single push-piece, just like that trusty stopwatch your coach used back at school. Compared to the good old ETA Valjoux 7750 that featured “cam and lever” design that is both more robust in the long run and easier to manufacture in greater quantities, the caliber A08.L11 offers a column-wheel design with vertical clutch that is not only more energy-efficient (the power reserve here is at least 54 hours: about ten to twelve hours more that you can get from a 7750,) but is also more pleasant to operate.
The new timepiece basically features the same layout dial as the aforementioned 180th Anniversary model, but adds a nicely executed pulsometer scale to the list of available functions.
Unlike the aforementioned tachymeters and telemeters, the complication is actually quite usable: if you happen to have older parents or yourself suffer from a heart condition, knowing your pulse may be of vital importance. Of course, the same can be done without a special device (I usually just count heartbeats for fifteen seconds and simply multiply the number by four), however, as most of us know it, when something really bad happens to your loved one, some arithmetical operations that you usually do in your head in split seconds, become almost impossible just because of all the stress you experience at the moment.
As the inscription in French explains quite clearly, to use the function, you need to start the chronograph and, after you have counted 30 beats of your patient’s heart, stop it (doing that would be quite easy thanks to timekeeper’s ‘monopusher’ design where you control the chronograph using just one push-piece which is, in this example, is integrated into the setting crown). The central chronograph hand will show his or her pulse on the logarithmic scale. Painted in bright red, the telemeter scale is very clearly visible, although the numbers closer to its end may be a bit more difficult to discern to those with poor eyesight.
Well, it isn’t very bad, but I know a number of timekeepers that seem to be better in this respect.
If I had to choose among this and three other pulsometer-enabled watches that I had had reviewed during the last couple of years, it would sit quite comfortably between the 2013 Oris Royal Flying Doctor Service (Ref. 01 735 7672 4084-Set LS, an almost unreadable scale with tiny red numerals makes the function hard to use) and Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Pulsograph by Minerva (with the latter being its major competitor because it, too, is styled to look “vintage” and features very good font face for the numerals). However, the best in this regard would be the 2011 Alpina Startimer Classic Chrono-Automatic that uses large sans-serif font for the pulsometer scale with its black numerals looking very contrast over its silvered dial.
On the other hand, the models made by Oris and Montblanc seem to be a bit more ergonomic since, too, being monopushers, they have their push-pieces placed at 2 hours and are easier to operate with your index finger. On yet another hand, if you don’t plan to actually measure someone’s pulse and simply would like to get yourself a nice vintage-styled timekeeper, this looks like a very nice choice.
The first of all, its case is very compact. Measuring just 40 millimeters in diameter and not terribly thick, it may be a bit larger than your ultimate dress watch, but it still looks really great with formal attire even if you happen to have a very thin wrist. Also, the monopusher design greatly increases overall ergonomics, while the choice of “standard” lugs makes replacing the original strap with something different a lot easier or, at least, less frustrating.
The second factor is, of course, the movement. The ETA caliber A08.261 has a reputation of a reliable, robust movement. It may not be as fancy as some in-house jobs by major brands, but it also won’t become a source of headaches like some new-fanged calibers, like, say, the relatively new Caliber B01 by Breitling with all the mechanical problems reported by actual owners on different forums. You must also understand that, buying a watch in this price range (it will possibly be very close in terms of pricing to the 2012 Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 that currently retails below €4000), what you really want to power your wristwatch is a workhorse: a movement that will work for years requiring only minimal attention like, say, changing oil at recommended intervals, scheduled regulation, and this sort of things.
And the third thing is, well, it is Longines. Although the brand seems a bit overpriced to me, they still design and make accessories that are stylish, elegant and, again, reliable. I guess I just can’t recommend this piece enough.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Longines Pulsometer Chronograph Automatic (ref. L2.801.4.23.2) specification
Price: $4000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber L788.2 (base ETA A08.261), 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, pulsometer
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.00 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: No data
Dial: Lacquered White
Numerals: Arabic, black, Breguet type
Hour markers: Black
Hands: Breguet, blued steel
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Brown alligator leather strap with contrast stitching, small steel buckle
Case back: Sapphire