Hands-On With The Longines Spirit Chronograph

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There are a handful of watch brands that have been around for as long as Longines, not many, but some. These brands have an enormous body of work from which to draw inspiration for new models or limited edition re-issues. Something that’s been on trend in recent years, for better or worse. While Longines has indeed presented such watches (some to great effect), their Spirit collection looks to flip that script. This is a collection of watches that look to a specific era of history, in this case the early 20th century, and design modern watches meant to evoke the period. Think less fauxtina and more period accurate in execution.

Zach Weiss brought you a detailed look at the time and date Spirit ref. L3.810.4.73.2 earlier this year, and now we’re bringing you a look at the Spirit in chronograph form in the ref. L3.820.4.93.0. You’ll immediately notice much of the same bravado and charm, but in a much different package it may have lost a bit of the accessibility. Let’s take a closer look. 

The Spirit chronograph is a lot of watch to behold at first blush. The dial is imposing with layers of detail and polished accents glinting in the light. Red timing accents present themselves astutely, almost as if on command due to the 5 imposing stars applied to the dial. Applied Arabic numerals dominate the dial’s perimeter, guarding diamond shaped markers set into an elevated rehaut. It’s a scene, and that’s before even getting to the case.

There is a regal quality to the Spirit chronograph that would feel at home on the wrist of Captain America, but not while he’s chasing down baddies. No, this would come out after the action, on the wrist of Steve Rogers while courting Peggy Carter. The old school military vibe is strong, but there’s a flair befitting of high ranking epaulette that takes it out of the realm of practicality. The polished rings framing each sub dial are a perfect example of this. They provide a flair at the expense of legibility. On the other hand, the timing functions of a chronograph probably aren’t an essential daily tool for most of us, so it may be a welcome trade off for some. 

While the dial has plenty to take in, one thing will stick out at you straight away: its vibrant blue color. It is rich in appearance and the sunburst texture provides a shimmering beauty in just the right light. The lumed hands and hour numerals jump off the dial as a result, and in low light the legibility is surprisingly strong.

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The steel case, which measures 42mm in diameter, is just as robust as the dial in both form and function. The lugs get a horizontal brush with a heavy polished chamfer to the case wall. A polished bezel provides contrast to the rest of the case, and transitions to the viewing area of the dial with appropriate pomp. Pump pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock handle timing duties, and another appendage appears at 10 o’clock, this one with a screw down protector. Unscrewed, this is a pusher to quickly adjust the date, which appears at 4:30 on the dial. Adjusting the date via the pusher is simple and a welcome feature, but building it into a crown position may have been worth it here to save the extra hunk of metal hanging off the case. Still, it’s more useful than the HEV taking up the same real estate on the Planet Ocean. If you’re on board with the flair of this watch you might even enjoy the extra toy regardless of placement. 

Longines is using the caliber L688.4 in the Spirit chronograph, which is based on the ETA A08.L01. This is an automatic movement, complete with column wheel and vertical clutch operation for the chronograph. It was developed for Longines, but is also used by Omega (who proceeds to fit the movement with a co-axial escapement). 

This is not a subtle watch by any definition, and the thickness of the case is the final ‘sorry, not sorry’ statement from this watch that you will notice on the wrist, and so will others. The watch is nothing if not consistent, and it’s not pretending to be a delicate anything as a result. It’s as big on personality as it is on the wrist, and while that’ll undoubtedly turn off some buyers, it’ll make a strong case for others. The Longines Spirit ref. L3.820.4.93.0 is priced from $3,100 and is available from retailers now. More from Longines

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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