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Miss flying? These watches inspired by the world’s great pilots are the next best thing

Paying tribute to the likes of Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes, the Longines Spirit collection combines the vintage look of classic pilot watches, updated for the modern wearer.

Miss flying? These watches inspired by the world’s great pilots are the next best thing

In 1932, legendary aviator Amelia Earhart wore a Longines chronograph timepiece for her 14-hour, 56-minute non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo: Longines)

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in many ways. Out of the many things that we miss, ranking high on that list is the ability to hop on board a plane and take off on an adventure.

In a new release, Swiss watch brand Longines seeks to capture the spirit of flying with a nostalgic collection of classic aviation watches, in a time when most of us have found ourselves grounded for most of the year.

As its famous winged hourglass logo suggests, aviation has played an important role in the history of Longines. Since the brand’s inception in 1832, Longines has equipped some of the most legendary adventurers with its precision tool watches.

Amelia Earhart wore a Longines chronograph in 1932 for her 14-hour, 56-minute non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean – the first female aviator to do so.

Howard Hughes set a round the world flight record of three days, 19 hours and 14 minutes in 1938. He used Longines for timekeeping and navigation.

Similarly, in 1931, Elinor Smith set a women's altitude record by flying at 32,576 feet, relying on her trusted Longines watch.

At age 16, Elinor Smith became the youngest licensed pilot in the world. (Photo: Longines)

Beyond aviation adventures, French ethnologist and explorer Paul-Emile Victor spent seven weeks crossing the Greenland ice cap in 1936. Even in the harshest of conditions, his Longines chronometers continued to work accurately, helping him to calculate longitude.

French ethnologist and explorer Paul-Emile Victor. (Photo: Longines)

It is these historical names that Longines is evoking in the new Spirit collection. There are three core models in the collection – three-hand time-and-date models in 40mm and 42mm case diameters, and a 42mm chronograph.

The Longines Spirit Automatic 40mm. (Photo: Longines)

There are matte black, grained silver or sunray blue dials available for each version. Buyers will also be able to choose either a matching leather bracelet, or a full steel bracelet. 

The Longines Spirit Chronograph. (Photo: Longines)

Those who desire more options can opt for the Prestige Edition available for the time-and-date watch, which comes with interchangeable steel, leather and NATO (brown leather) straps.

The Prestige Edition comes with interchangeable straps. (Photo: Longines)

Each model takes traditional features from pilot’s watches and combines them with contemporary lines and codes. The oversized crown, the flange, the pronounced step around the crystal, the font of the dial, the diamond shaped indexes and the large, luminous “baton” hands are typical features of a classic pilot’s watch.

The Longines Spirit Automatic 42mm. (Photo: Longines)

Modern mechanics have also been introduced to the Spirit range. The collection is powered by self-winding movements (L888.4 and L688.4) with silicon hairsprings to guarantee extreme accuracy and increased longevity. The calibres, with a power reserve of 64 hours and 60 hours respectively, are chronometer-certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).

The technical prowess of the Spirit collection is also complemented by the domed sapphire crystal glass with multi-layered antireflective coating on both sides, a screw-in crown, and an engraved caseback secured with six screws.

While we won’t be able to hop on a plane anytime soon, we can still wear an aviation-inspired watch on our wrist, one that reminds us of the good ol’ days of flying.

READ: Which watchmaker doesn't care if you can tell the time or not?

Source: CNA/st