Longines’ major release in 2020 was its Spirit collection, which it described as drawing “traditional features from pilot’s replica watches and combin[ing] them with contemporary lines and codes.” All of the watches pay stylistic tribute to the vintage models worn by adventurous, early 20th-century aviators like Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes, with standout features including an oversized fluted crown, a pronounced, stepped bezel and minute-scale flange, large Arabic hour numerals with diamond-shaped indices, and big, luminous baton hands. Thus far, the black dial copy Longines Spirit collection comprises a trio of three-hand-date models (one of which I review here) and one chronograph (stay tuned). Read on for my impressions of the time-and-date Ref. L3.810.4.53.0. in a 40-mm case.
As Longines replica intended, the Spirit’s case design calls to mind the rugged aviator watches of old, albeit boasting a distinctly contemporary finish — or, more accurately, combination of finishes. The sloped bezel on my black-dialed review watch is brushed on its top surface and polished on its side; a similar arrangement elegantly defines the rest of the case, with brushed non-reflective surfaces on the top and sides of the curving lugs, accentuated by gleaming, polished, faceted lines. The fluted crown of Longines replica with black leather strap is onion-shaped, in classic pilots’ style — not nearly as large as it would have been in one of the 1930s pilot watches that inspired it, though Longines still describes it as “oversized.” The crown screws down securely for a 100-meter water resistance. A minuscule rendering of the Longines logo, with the famed winged hourglass, appears in relief on the crown’s brushed surface.
Drawing attention immediately on the matte black dial are the large, luminous-coated Arabic hour numerals. Executed in a vintage-look font, they are outlined by silvery borders and paired with little diamond icons, also luminous. The diamonds visually connect the hour numerals to the smaller 5-minute numerals, in white print, at each of the 12 cardinal points on the surrounding scale. At 3 o’clock, this harmonious circular arrangement is only briefly interrupted by a date window, in place of a numeral “3”, paired with the diamond and the 15-minute mark. (The date, of course, is a nod to contemporary tastes; a vintage pilot-watch purist would likely prefer a simpler arrangement, sans date, with a 3 o’clock numeral.) The hands are baton-shaped with pointed ends; the hour hand is substantially shorter and notably thicker than the minute hand.
The baton hands and large numerals are luminous-coated.
The sweep seconds hand fans out to a thick, diamond-shaped counterweight on one end and extends into a red pointer, with a tiny luminous diamond accent, at the other. The red-tipped hand skips jauntily over the white-printed minutes/seconds scale. A more modern version of the Longines logo typography and winged hourglass logo appear at 12 o’clock, and a row of five stars — a traditional symbol of Longines representing, the brand says, the highest achievements of quality and reliability by its movement — appears above the designation “CHRONOMETER” at 6 o’clock.
The solid steel caseback that covers and protects the movement is also true to the “Spirit” of its ancestors, held in place by six industrial-looking screws and sporting a sleek, brushed finish. The engraving here adds a globe motif to the Longines winged hourglass logo, speaking to this watch’s ancestral heritage of exploring and circumnavigating the world. Beating behind the caseback is the self-winding L888.4 caliber, based on the ETA A31.L11. (Both Longines and movement-maker ETA are owned by the Swatch Group, so the movement is made “in the family” if not entirely “in-house.”) It offers a substantial 64-hour power reserve, a COSC chronometer certification and an antimagnetic silicon balance spring. The L888.4, which is made exclusively for Swiss luxury replica Longines, is notable as the caliber first used in the watches of the Record collection, the brand’s first family consisting entirely of COSC-certified chronometers.
The engraved caseback covers the automatic caliber.
The strap is made of brown calfskin with a subtle pebbled finished and a slight oily sheen, accentuated by light beige contrast stitching in the style of those pilots’ watches of old. The tan-colored underside is soft and caresses the wrist. The tongue of the steel pin buckle tucks tightly into the rectangular perforations for a secure hold. Boiled down to its essence, the Longines Spirit copy with Swiss movement is a valiant attempt to translate the aesthetics of a vintage aviators’ tool watch to a modern, understated dress watch with a historical character, and in most aspects it succeeds — and, at just $2,150, the cost of this aviation-inspired timekeeper is anything but sky high.