Introducing the Longines Avigation BigEye Chronograph

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Longines has a long history of Swiss watchmaking and has sought to take advantage of that over the last decade to produce and expand its Heritage collection. It is no surprise that a company with a winged hourglass for its logo should be heavily associated with aviation watches both in the past and present. Along that theme, Longines have added a new watch to the collection, the Avigation BigEye, and the styling and price are sure to make it a big hit. Longines are citing a 1930s watch as a basis for reissue here, though the distinctive style will be familiar to many as an update of the aviation chronographs of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

“Big-Eye” chronographs, such as those once made by Universal Genève, Breguet and Longines themselves, are designed with easy reading of the chronograph minute counter in mind, with the oversized register giving the style its name. The other immediately obvious nod to the intended original usage of this watch comes in the form of the oversized chronograph pushers; previously a feature to aid easy operation of the chronograph while wearing gloves in the cockpit, this now adds to the vintage appeal of the watch.

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There are, of course, several updates and changes made from the watches that inspired this release in order to bring the BigEye into the modern day, and for the most part they are sympathetically done. The result is a good looking chronograph that oozes with retro appeal.

The diameter is 41mm, making it a modern size without being huge. The stainless steel case is almost entirely brushed, save for the slim surface bezel and the chronograph pushers. The crystal is sapphire with several layers of anti-reflective coating, and it retains a heavy dome as one would expect from a vintage-styled chronograph. The thickness of 14.5mm to the top of the dome shouldn’t be too overbearing either.

The movement inside is Longines’ L688.2 calibre, based on the ETA 7750, but converted to a column wheel arrangement and with a longer power reserve of 54 hours. This movement has been seen in Longines’ automatic chronographs since its introduction in 2013. You won’t be able to get a good look at it though as Longines have opted for a solid, engraved case back in keeping with the watches it is based on.Instead of opting for a faux-patina style lume paint which has almost become the norm with vintage style reissues, the hands and indices of the Avigation BigEye get a generous amount of green-toned Super-LumiNova, which should offer much better low-light readability and gives preference to function over form.

The final notable retro-inspired design decision is the absence of a date window. Longines’ Heritage watches all too often squeeze a date window into a design which could well manage even better without.

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The three-register layout of the modified 7750 movement gives sub-dials for a 30-minute counter at the three o’clock register, a 12-hour counter at the six o’clock register, and a running seconds at the nine o’clock register, with the chronograph seconds shown by the central seconds hand. Furthermore, in another aid to readability of the chronograph’s elapsed time, Longines have opted for a different set of sub-dial hands on the two chronograph registers–not just the “Big-Eye”–and each sub-dial has a different set of markings.

The gloss-black dial features large Arabic numerals along the perimeter, with the exception of those at three, six and nine o’clock which have been omitted in place of the sub-dials. The adjacent numerals are partially cut away by sub-dials where they would otherwise overlap. Those cutaway numerals can be a real turnoff for some, and it is especially noticeable around the “Big-Eye” counter at three.

The watch comes paired with a slightly distressed light brown leather strap, which also ties in with the retro aviation feel. Perhaps surprisingly, this is a regular production model rather than a limited edition. The Longines Avigation BigEye is available to purchase now at a fairly reasonable $2,625. With the tasteful updates to a classic design, Longines have surely produced what is going to be a popular watch. Longines

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.
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