Revival timepieces are an industry trend right now, and one of the first Swiss watch manufacturers to kick it off was Longines. The brand has no shortage of important historical timepieces to explore, no more so than their retro pilots watches which have been reinvented several times over in their Heritage collection. Yet for their latest heritage revival, things are taking a different turn. The Longines Ultra-Chron watch tributes one of the world’s first hi-beat divers watches with an “ultra-chronometer” movement to match.
A Brief History of the Hi-Beat Longines
Why is high frequency important? Ultimately, a watch’s frequency is defined by the total number of oscillations its regulating organ performs over time. The faster it beats, the more accurate the timekeeping. With a history that spans almost two centuries, it is no surprise that Longines have tried their own luck at creating a hi-beat timepiece. Their first high-frequency movement debuted in 1914 within a pocket watch. It boasted a frequency of 5Hz, or 36,000 vibrations per hour, and could measure 1/10th of a second with its split second hand. A little later, Longines took this even further with a 1916 stopwatch with a 50Hz movement this time performing at 360,000 vibrations per hour.
Longines also became the first watch manufacturer to equip a wristwatch with a hi-beat movement in 1959. The movement was named the Longines Calibre 360 and showcased a manual-winding mechanism with a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour. At the time, the calibre wasn’t developed for commercial use but would take first and second place in an accuracy competition at the Observatory of Neuchâtel in 1961. As we know, the later half of the 1960’s would see the arrival of the high-precision electronic movements and in response, Longines continued to put all their focus on hi-beat movements. The Longines Calibre 431 was later developed guaranteeing an exceptional accuracy of one minute a month, or two seconds a day. It was placed within a watch suitably named the Longines Ultra-Chron for its COSC-defying accuracy.
Two years later, and the Swiss watch manufacturer recreated the Longines Ultra-Chron as a sports watch, named the Ultra-Chron Diver under reference 7970. It featured the same Calibre 431 movement and boasted a (then) modern cushion-shaped case, a bright red minutes hand and a 200 metre water resistance. Together with its movement and dive watch specifications, the Longines Ultra-Chron became known as the world’s first high-frequency diving watch. It is this very design that has been rebirthed in this new 2022 edition.
The 2022 Longines Ultra-Chron Watch
The new Longines Ultra-Chron watch for 2022 offers everything we look for in a vintage revival. Its design is remarkably faithful to the original but provides some subtle improvements that make it wearable on the modern wrist. Of course the real novelty of a watch like this is the movement, and Longines certainly haven’t side-stepped their responsibility here. The Longines Ultra-Chron makes use of a brand new Longines calibre named the L836.6 which takes an ETA base and heavily modifies it with an increased frequency. Like the original, we’re guaranteed a frequency of 5Hz, or 36,600 vibrations per hour which pairs with an anti-magnetic silicon hairspring for additional reliability and a power reserve of 52 hours.
As its name suggests, the new Longines Ultra-Chron watch is also a chronometer but rather than having been certified by COSC, it has been signed off by another independent laboratory called TimeLab. According to Longines, TimeLab have accredited the Ultra-Chron as an “ultra-chronometer” based on standards that exceed that of COSC. Rather than just the movement, the entire watch head is placed under a 15-day testing period at five positions and three temperatures to ensure it meets the precision criteria of the ISO 3159:2009 standard. Every Longines Ultra-Chron watch comes with its own certificate detailing the different tests it has endured.
For the exterior, the Longines Ultra-Chron watch opts for the same cushion-shaped architecture as its predecessor but with a slightly increased diameter of 43mm compared to the 41mm of the original. The case is engineered from stainless steel and features a combination of brushed and polished surfaces, strong lugs and a unidirectional bezel. The bezel is fully graduated and detailed with a red and white 60 minute track with luminous markings at every 15 minute point. The insert is crafted from black sapphire, a necessary upgrade from the bakelite insert on the 1960’s piece. The case of the Longines Ultra-Chron watch is completed with box-shaped sapphire crystal glass, a screw down crown and screwed case back with a 300 metre water resistant rating and a choice of a brown leather or metal strap. At the centre, the 2022 Longines Ultra-Chron watch continues to faithfully tribute the original with a grained black dial with the same faceted hour markers, baton hands and bold red accents.
If you’d like to learn more about the new Longines Ultra-Chron watch and shop the design for yourself, head over to the Jura Watches website here. Alternatively, get in touch with the team by calling 01335 453453 or send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Case Size: 43mm
- Case Material: Stainless steel
- Bezel: Unidirectional with sapphire insert, 60 minute Superluminova scale
- Glass: Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment
- Crown: Screw down
- Case Back: Screwed
- Water Resistance: 300 metres
- Movement: Calibre L836.6 automatic winding, “ultra-chronometer” certified by Timelab
- Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds
- Power Reserve: 52 hours
- Jewels: 25
- Frequency: 36,600vph
- Dial: Matte black grained, Superluminova hands and indexes, red minutes hand
- Strap: Black leather or metal bracelet
- Limited Edition: No
- RRP: £3,000