First Look: The Longines Heritage Skindiver

Longines has long been at the forefront of the heritage craze, starting out strong some years back with the Legend Diver (which is now also available in a 36 millimeter case, but that’s another story for another time). At Baselworld this year, Longines reached into their past once again to bring back a legendary (no pun intended) diver that is both well-known and highly coveted by lovers of vintage dive watches. That historical watch, the Nautilus, is a single-crown Super Compressor produced in the early 1960s (not dissimilar to the more famous dual-crown Super Compressor that inspired today’s Legend Diver). Longines’ modern take on that watch has been dubbed the Heritage Skindiver. The original Nautilus is extremely rare. It features an external, bi-directional friction bezel made of plastic that is somewhat fragile and prone to breaking, which makes it even more difficult to find a complete and original example of the watch today. I admit that I am a huge fan of the Nautilus, and I pretty much lost it when I saw the first few images of the new watch a few weeks back.

The original Longines Nautilus. Image via Matthew Bain.

The new Longines Heritage Skindiver is a faithful reproduction of the original. The stainless steel case measures 42 millimeters wide with what appears to be a relatively long lug-to-lug (we saw the same thing on the Legend Diver), although as of this writing I do not have an actual measurement to share. The original Nautilus is somewhere around 40/41 millimeters, so while some may complain about the larger size, it is relatively true to the vintage model. The lugs (22 millimeters) are long and fairly straight and feature a brushed finish, which is a dead ringer for the original. The screw-down crown is oversized and cross-hatched, and the Skindiver is rated to 300 meters of water resistance.

The bezel is one detail that has been changed, which is to be expected. The new bezel is black PVD steel, and it’s unidirectional. While I would have loved a bi-directional friction bezel like the one on the original, it makes sense to go this way for actual diving functionality and to appeal to contemporary audiences (who are not all vintage dive watch obsessives). The markings on the bezel, however, are true to the original, featuring off-white painted dashes and dots, and small numbers at 15, 30, and 45 and a triangle at 60.

Longines went with a sapphire glass for the Skindiver. While I get the reasoning (again, not all customers will be hardcore collectors obsessed with mid-century watches), I would have loved to see Longines go with a super-dome acrylic crystal for the ultimate retro look.

Under the sapphire glass is a textured, matte-black dial, once again faithfully nodding back to the Nautilus. It is similar to the layout on the Legend Diver, with stylized Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9. Thankfully, Longines opted to eschew a date window, thereby preserving the perfect symmetry of the dial.

The handset is gorgeous, with a lume-filled, spade-tipped hour hand and sword minute hand. Although similar to the hands of the Legend Diver, this set is more like the ones from the vintage model. The color of the luminous paint on both the dial and the hands is a latte-colored “aged lume,” which seems to be one of the biggest dividing factors with watch collectors—people either love it, or they hate it. I am in the “love it” camp, and I like that this color is more tan than some of the yellower “aged lume” I’ve seen on other watches.The movement powering the watch is the Longines caliber 619/888, a 21-jewel automatic caliber based on the ETA 2892. It has a power reserve of 42 hours.

The Skindiver will be offered with a choice of three different straps. You can choose from a mesh bracelet with straight ends, a leather strap, or a vintage-styled rubber strap. All three versions will retail for around $2,600. This is a solid (and expected) price considering the quality of watch that Longines is known to produce (especially when compared to other “name-brand” divers priced similarly). Expect me to be at the front of that line when this one drops. Longines

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Christoph (Instagram’s @vintagediver) is a long time collector and lover of all things vintage, starting with comic books when he was a kid (he still collects them). His passion for watches began in 1997 when he was gifted a family heirloom vintage Omega Genève by his step-father. That started him on the watch collecting path—buying and selling vintage watches of all sorts, with a special appreciation for vintage dive watches and Seiko.