The retro pilot’s chronograph stands out for its mismatched subdials and lack of date window
By Chris Hall
This is the Longines Heritage Avigation BigEye chronograph. It’s the latest addition to Longines’ much-loved Heritage range, and it is based on a model from the 1930s that was recently acquired by the brand’s in-house museum.
True to Longines Heritage form, it is a very faithful tribute to the original. As you would expect, the only major aesthetic change is the step up to a bigger case – but at 41mm it hasn’t gone overboard.
The standout points for the BigEye are – you guessed it – the unusually oversized 30-minute chronograph subdial at 3 o’clock which makes the watch look like it has one eye bigger than the other, and a pair of oversized pushers. These were in the original iteration designed for ease of use by pilots wearing gloves.
These days, they serve to give it character – something we have come to expect from Longines’ Heritage line. The thing that will really endear this watch to many, however, is the lack of a date window. Longines is in the incorrigible habit of adding a date to revived models, usually intruding at 4 o’clock, but not this time.
The logic is on one level sound: most Longines customers prefer to have a date (it is an undeniably useful complication) and the movements Longines is using tend to come with a date function as standard. But their inclusion on tributes to historical models that are otherwise respectful of the source material is irritating to legions of fans.
On the wrist, the watch is a surprisingly weighty presence – but don’t worry, it’s not too big to go under a shirt. Just feels nice and solid. The aged-effect brown leather strap is a fitting partner; I would wager a sizeable number of these will end up on NATO straps.
Inside the Avigation BigEye is calibre L688, an automatic column-wheel chronograph movement. This could only be more of a fan favourite were it to be handwound, but that might get it a bit close to (sister brand) Omega Moonwatch territory. In any case, the watch isn’t too thick at 14.5mm. The power reserve is perfectly adequate – in fact, above average – at 54 hours, and the watch is water resistant to 30m.
There will be no gazing at the column-wheel chronograph movement in action as Longines has fitted the watch with a solid caseback, as it typically does on Heritage models. There is a stamped engraving of a plane to look at, instead. The watch is not limited in number, and will sell for the unarguably attractive price of £1,940.