War never changes. Watches, however, do. It is really nice when reputable watchmaking brands introduce all sorts of homages to legendary WWII-time models that were issued during the 1940s for armies of all parties involved. For obvious reasons, this new Longines Heritage Military COSD (ref. L2.832.4.53/73.x) can’t be called a “reissue”. However, it is still a very nice choice for a person who wants to buy a military-style timekeeper that doesn’t look like it came straight from Call of Duty: Black Ops video game. This is a timepiece that was designed with a gentleman in mind.
To my opinion, the Heritage Military COSD doesn’t look like a ‘faithful recreation’ of the original design (not that there actually was a sort of canonical design since there were different versions of the watch produced during the time of war). Rather, it is a sort of ‘potpourri’ of numerous timekeepers from the 1940s that were created for the British army (Omega Cal30 T2 British Military and an IWC three-hander that was designed for the same customer at virtually the same period are probably first that come to mind, but there was also similarly styled Bulova and Hamilton models bought by US Army.)
Its exterior is as simple as the legendary Stan sub-machine gun and seemingly is as functional as the old Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife. Its dial is as legible as an instrument gauge. Its strap seems to be as durable as that on an assault rifle. What else would you want from a “military” wristwatch? A fire-control system?
Case & Strap
Like most tool watches of the period, this “homage” is issued in a relatively compact case (compared to the nickel-plated brass of the original, this one is stainless steel though). Measuring just 40 millimeters in diameter, it will fit nicely almost any wrist, although you should bear in mind that its long horns add about 12 millimeters or so to its total length. Still, given their nicely curved profile, the watch won’t look bulky on a normal wrist and will probably look really cool even if you prefer a formal suit to a Barbour Steve Mcqueen jacket.
The case is, by the way, relatively slender for a watch that is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement, although I would probably prefer less polished and more machine-brushed surfaces: this is a tool watch after all. Even despite its price of almost $1500, it is supposed to get its fair share of dings and scratches during its time.
What I like the most here is the crown. Designed very close to military specs, it is large and bulky and is easy to operate even with numb, cold fingers. At the same time, it is not too big to look like an alien being trying to suck the life out of the timekeeper.
As for the strap, the Heritage Military COSD is available both on a rugged-looking synthetic khaki NATO band and on a more civilized black alligator leather strap. Both are equipped with standard steel buckles.
If you are into this sort of styling, you may find this Panerai Radiomir Mare Nostrum 52mm (PAM 300) even more interesting, but I should probably warn you that this Italian beast is even more expensive/
Of course, the mechanism is where the main differences between the original COSD model and this “homage” start to appear. While the WWII-time model was powered by Longines 12.68N hand-wound caliber that was beating at a fairly slow pace of 18,000 vibrations per hour and was built on just 17 jewels, this new watch is animated by the Caliber L619.2 self-winding movement. Based on the good old ETA 2892/A2 ebauche, this mechanism will probably give you literally decades of hassle-free operation if you take good care of it. Besides featuring automatic winding, which seems to be more convenient, it also gives you a simple date indicator that, too, makes the L2.832.4.53/73.x more useful.
Frankly, I think that the timepiece’s collectability could have been greatly increased if Longines managed somehow to find a dozen or so of NOS Calibers 12.68 (or similar movements representing the era,) but, well, it is still a good movement.
Like it is often the case with military-style watches that were styled after real-life models of the past, the dial here is a fine example of an extremely legible design that was taken to a new level thanks to our significantly more advanced technology. It is, of course, a lot more refined, but the overall purposeful aura of a rugged tool is still here.
As I have already noted, this one features a simple calendar function, so the Arabic “3” and “15” of the original are replaced with a medium-sized date aperture. The rest, however, is more or less the same including a bit more elegant version of the railway-style minute track with the usual luminous hour markers.
Available both in black and off-white opaline, the dial is contrast enough in either variation and is readable enough both in total darkness and in broad daylight.
Pricing & Availability
All in all, the device leaves a very good impression of a thoroughly designed job that not only looks good but also has a sort of strong mojo that the Swiss brand’s current model range tends to lack. Perhaps, the only thing that puts me off a little is the price: for the MSRP of €1380 I would prefer to see something more interesting than the standard ETA 2892/A2 beating inside this body.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Longines Heritage Military COSD (L2.832.4.53/73.x) specification
Price: €1380 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber L619.2 (ETA 2892/A2), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 21
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 40.00 mm
Dial: Black / Opaline white
Numerals: Arabic, black (12/24-hours scales)
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather or synthetic khaki NATO strap with steel buckle