Question Time: Should You Buy The New Aviation Inspired Longines Spirit Flyback Watch?
Longines have been around since 1832 and have been big influencers in the watch industry. Official timekeeper of the Kentucky Derby since 2011, they invented the Lindbergh Hour angle watch in 1931. Suffice to say you can buy a Longines and experience moments in time, especially with their COSC certified Spirit Chronograph collection. As such, Chrono Hunter only thinks it's fair to take a look at the new aviation inspired Spirit model. It’s time to take you on a horological flight of fancy starting off with the complication that makes this unique timepiece: The flyback function
What Is A Flyback Function?
Known as retour-en-vol, it allows a time measurement to be simultaneously stopped and a new one started thanks to the single press of a button. The mechanism combines all three functions harmoniously - stop, reset and restart. This is a huge advancement on the standard Chronograph as it is traditionally made up of two pushers, one which starts and stops the chronograph function and another which resets the chronograph back to zero. This is longer than the flyback and is only really useful for measuring one off events like a sprint.
The Flyback essentially bypasses the need for excess buttons and pressing, allowing instant changes to occur without stopping and starting a watch. Well isn’t that great timing!
History Of The Longines Spirit Chronograph Flyback
The Spirit Collection was originally launched just three years ago at the end of 2020 and lends itself to the flying past of the brand. Their aviation heritage stems from a few significant people such as Amelia Earhart, Paul-Emile Victor, Elinor Smith and Howard Hughes and their influence on the aviation sphere.
Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic in 1932 and was dutifully wearing the brand due to watches being the only navigation equipment available at that time. While we dont expect you to do the same when you buy a Longines, it goes to show how strong the equipment was…even back then. Paul-Emile Victor crossed the Greenland ice cap, equipped with three of their stopwatches while Elinor Smith set an altitude record for flying at 32,576 feet in 1931 - all while using their equipment.
Spirit Model - Source - Longines
Flyback movements by the brand stem back to around the same eras as these accomplishments during the mid 1920’s. They even patented the flyback in June 1935 which was registered one year later. In 1936, the brand released their first ever chronograph with a flyback function by utilising their famous calibre 13ZN. After WWII, the brand would release the calibre 30CH which had that same function.
It's clear to see that they have one of the richest histories in aviation in the timepiece world. The Spirit Chronograph collection essentially takes all the key aspects of these phenomenal instruments and crafts sublime models for our consumption. Particularly handy when you come to buy a Longines.
Personality Of The Longines Spirit Chronograph Flyback
The design follows a lot of the main design codes from earlier pilot inspired models, effectively linking the model back to its aeronautical roots. The case of the Spirit model stretches to a fairly bulky 42mm and a sizable thickness of 17mm in terms of its height. One of the reasons for its size aside from its design to be robust is the bi-directional bezel which sits on top of the watch and is a new addition to the collection.
Spirit Model - Source - Longines
It is given a 60 minute scale which is useful for measuring time in the cockpit and is crafted from either blue or black ceramic, depending on which model you decide to go for. The white markings are dosed with a healthy amount of Super-Luminova to ensure legibility even in the toughest environments while the black minute markers are crafted in negative relief like the same design of the Rolex Submariner 6205 which are very prominent next to the white markers.
The new Longines Spirit Flyback model blends brushed surfaces and polished bevels which give a fantastic glean on the case side. The crown is sizable which is perfect for the pilot's oversized gloves. The case is also given a sapphire exhibition back and is bolted in using six screws. Even though this new model has a sapphire caseback, the watch still has a fairly strong water resistance of 100 metres…enough for a spot of scuba diving or lounging around the pool.
The dial is clean as a whistle and finished with either a black or blue sunray effect which allows light to both darken and lighten the dial. The flange is slightly raised which means the track is very legible, even though it's the same dial colour and markings colour. We like the highly legible Arabic numerals which give a sense of refinement and simplicity to the model itself. The slightly tapered hands and markers are bronzed coloured which gives a vintage feel to the model and adds another subtle colour dimension to the piece.
This is a strong change from the original polished yellow gold aesthetic of previous editions. With two subdials which are the chronograph minutes and the running seconds which are based at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock respectively, the third sub dial at 6 o'clock is replaced by 5 stars which relates to the accuracy of the movement.
Some might call this dial element a cheap theatre review or a newspaper critic's viewpoint on the latest West End show which may detract. Nevertheless, you may expect a phenomenal 5 star rating from your colleagues if you buy a Longines like this!
Technical Prowess Of The Longines Spirit Chronograph Flyback
Powered by the L791.4 automatic, the movement is very complicated and continues on the COSC certification trend of its predecessors. The movement utilises updates like a silicon balance spring as well as a column wheel to ensure the timepiece is exceptionally precise and won't be rendered useless after a few knocks or scrapes.
Spirit Model - Source - WatchTime
The model offers a strong power reserve of 68 hours and beats at a steady 25,200VpH. The movement looks as well as it performs as there are a variety of finishes which can be seen through the exhibition back. The screws which attach to the movement are dyed blue as well as the parts of the column wheel, allowing the model to appear seamless in its design. But the horological star of the show is of course its flyback function. This essentially means that the user can successively measure time at various periods during the flight through the pushers on the model. This function is essential and fits in perfectly with this aviation influenced timepiece.
A very close look would glean Arabesque style waves which are visible on the rotor as well as a globe motif, linking to the Spirit collection, which is engraved.
Will The Longines Spirit Chronograph Flyback Hold Its Value?
This new model excels in blending retroism with a healthy dose of contemporary aesthetics. It fulfils the exact criteria of the Spirit collection as it utilises the oversized crown, flange and pronounced step which can be seen around the crystal while bronzing the indices and giving the dial a beautiful sun ray effect to enhance the dressy features of the watch.
It will more than likely hold its value as it is valued at a rather accessible retail price of £4,100 (at the time of writing) while still retaining elements which top range watches would die for. This includes COSC certification and innovative materials which can patina and make the watch distinctive. While not all Longines watches will hold their value, this one may be an anomaly due to its individual design and rich heritage.
What’s Our View?
The brand and aviation go hand in hand like Gilbert and Sullivan. We do think that the Spirit model is a phenomenal pilot's timepiece as it is COSC certified which means enthusiasts are guaranteed to receive the highest quality in terms of accuracy and longevity.
Spirit Model - Source - Italian Watch Spotter
This new timepiece is also strong against magnetism due to the silicon hairspring, essential for pilots due to their presence in a highly technological cockpit. The fact that they have the patent for the flyback function and are using it to great effect through retro stylings with modern intricacies is a testament to the quality of the model and the evergreen heritage the Spirit collection possesses. Sure it’s not the Pilot Majetek which is a real design winner. But it does tick many boxes when it comes to hungry horophiles.
With the option to wear this with a stainless steel bracelet, and brown leather or blue fabric strap, it allows the wearer to formalise the timepiece for days in the office or take it down a notch when you are venturing out to visit friends. The multi functionality and purpose of this timepiece along with the excellent lume and open caseback have done wonders for this model.
They have essentially kept things old school with the blue or black dial options and by refusing to go over the top with colours and keeping things minimal like the bronzed hands and indices, they stake a claim in being the king of retro inspired pilot watches. All fur and no knickers this is not. It truly is a one off pilots timepiece which will no doubt prove to be a worthy investment due to the current trends moving towards retroism from collectors.
You can buy a Longines Spirit model at retail for £4,100 - at the time of writing.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article on the stunning new model. It's funky with its Arabic numerals and slightly bronzed aesthetics but doesn't go over the top with colour and keeps doing what it does best. The upgraded calibre is like putting a new engine in a retro car. Suffice it to say this beast will be giving you no grief when it comes to performance due to its updated aspects like the silicon balance. They have adapted the watch to keep it relevant while retaining old school cool. Now who says we are not down with the kids!
Can't wait to buy a Longines Spirit model? Want to be soaring through the skies with this at your side? Why not get informed and talk to Chrono Hunter here. With such a vast array of clientele, you can check out our Trustpilot reviews to see why we are your essential source when you want to buy a watch or sell a watch. By utilising our dedicated app on all platforms, you can receive offers in less than 24 hours and get saving!
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