Longines receives a lot of well deserved acclaim from the watch community for the tasteful way they recreate historical watches. They not only have a knack for getting the proportions and small details of these watches just right, but over the years they’ve been incredibly smart about the watches they select to reissue. Longines is essentially curating a living museum of watches that are important not just to their own brand history, but watch history writ large. Even if a particular reference is not to your taste, the fact these watches are out there preserving the brand’s heritage is important – it allows enthusiasts to really learn something about watch history, even if they never own the watch in question. Their first novelty of 2023 is a prime example of Longines teaching all of us a little bit about their past. The Longines Pilot Majetek is an uncommon pilot’s watch with a design that has roots in the 1930s.
Longines Reaches Back Nearly 100 Years for their Latest Heritage Release, the Pilot Majetek
When we think of aviation watches, our minds probably go to simple designs rooted in pure legibility. The IWC Mark series, for example, provides something of a foundation for how we understand pilot watches today. Big numerals, plenty of lume, and generous proportions. For a time in the 1920s and 30s, however, pilot’s watches made by Longines were defined by a feature we now associate with a very different type of tool watch: a rotating bezel. These so-called “aviation counters” placed an emphasis on timing the duration of a flight, and used a simple rotating bezel with a single marker to get the job done. In 1935, Longines created the reference 3582 for the Czechoslovak Air Force. These watches were made to exacting specifications, including a cushion style case and a luminous, rotating, hour marker. Watches were engraved with the words “Majetek Vojenske Spravy,” which means “Property of the Czechoslovak Army,” and is where the watch seen here gets its name and many of its design cues.
The new Majetek, then, sports a 43mm cushion case with lugs that are a bit more rounded than the original, but it gets remarkably close to the aesthetic of a watch that’s nearly 100 years old, which is something of an achievement unto itself. The dial is fairly straightforward and feels connected to more contemporary aviation themed watches, with clearly defined Arabic numerals and plenty of contrast for easy legibility. What really makes the Majetek something special is that coin edge bezel and the internal triangular marker that can be used for timing. Functionally, the Majetek can be used in much the same way we’d use any modern dive watch, but aesthetically, it’s a real throwback, and considering the Majetek makes you realize how standards in tool watch design have shifted over the decades along with the priorities of those who use them.
Inside the Majetek beats a Longines caliber designated L893.6, which is produced exclusively for the brand. It’s chronometer certified, has a silicon balance spring, and will run for 72 hours on a full wind. The case is stainless steel, and is water resistant to 100 meters. A design flourish that is likely to be divisive is the plate on the 9:00 case flank, which is engraved with “1935,” a nod to the watch’s historical roots. This is something of a departure for Longines, who prior to the Majetek have leaned toward something approaching a 1:1 style of recreation, with only small adjustments for the modern consumer. The engraved plate makes the Majetek feel “commemorative” in a way that previous releases have not.
The retail price on the Longines Majetek is $3,750. More information at Longines here.