The idea of a military watch tends to render something a false impression in the mind’s eye. When we think of military equipment, we think of armour-plated battle monsters, brim full of weaponry and gadgetry to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy, but the reality is something quite different. Like anything designed to operate where the user is in serious danger of losing their life, the brief is simplicity, quite literally. Hardware should do its job in the least complicated way possible, no more no less, whether its purpose is to be a bristling mega-tank or a straightforward wristwatch. In the arena of war, failing equipment is not an option.
With time being such a critically important aspect of warfare, a military, standard-issue timepiece needs to be as simple as they get, and the same is as true now as it was in 1938 where the origins of this Longines reissue reside. Clean, simple, uncluttered, the Heritage Military 1938 collection honours a snapshot of wartime military issue, and isn’t a million miles away from the current British armed forces CWC wristwatch – albeit with a beating mechanical heart instead of a ticking quartz one.
Longines is a hugely respectable brand, and although it still flies somewhat under that radar, more people are beginning to take notice of it. The release of the hugely popular Legend Diver sparked a revived interest in their heritage pieces, and thanks to the company’s extensive back-catalogue, it’s a formula they’ve been able to replicate with consistent success since. But don’t think that Longines are relying on heritage alone, because these reissue pieces are extremely well made, a technological improvement over the originals. Using modern materials and techniques, the pieces benefit from increased reliability and durability without losing their vintage charm.
And that’s something else they have, a quality you can’t see, or touch, or measure. Longines watches have soul, character, something that makes you want to own them. Often, a buying decision is based on the balance between the head and the heart, but in the case of Longines, both can be had in the same purchase. With the Heritage Military 1938 – and with pretty much all the other Heritage pieces for that matter – there’s a feeling of genuine desirability, and its probably because they don’t leave a single box un-ticked. Rich heritage? Yes. Attractive? Check. Affordable? Very. Reliable? One of the best.
The Heritage 1938 collection also includes a GMT and a very attractive twin-register chronograph, but don’t think of this as a review of a single watch, or even of those three; the Heritage 1938 is a doorway to a world of keenly priced, achingly good-looking watches from a been-there-done-that watchmaker that deserves far more attention. If there’s something Longines has learned from its years supplying watches to the military, it’s how to do something cleanly, simply and really damn well.
[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]