The Longines Legend Diver, originally released in 2007, has already become something of a forgotten classic. There are a variety of reasons it’s a watch many have to be reminded of, as opposed to something like a Black Bay, which seems never far from the forefront of the watch buying public’s consciousness. For starters it’s a big watch, at 42mm, and wears bigger thanks to its signature long lugs. Also, Longines replaced the initial date-less version of the watch with an updated reference with a date in 2009, with production ending on the original reference ending sometime in 2011. That new version with a date at 3;00 was perhaps a little less desirable for those of us in the enthusiast community who tend to fixate such things. But the vintage inspired styling and overall high quality, bang-for-buck feel of the Legend Diver is notable, and it could be argued that this is the watch that set the table for so many of the fantastic Longines vintage reissues we’ve discussed here over the last few years. So Longines returning to the Legend Diver format is a bit of a treat for those of us who remember the genuine excitement around its original launch. Let’s take a look.
At a macro level, not much has changed. We’ve still got the same compressor style case, made famous in the 60s by casemaker Ervin Piquerez, with dual crowns controlling the winding and setting as well as the rotating internal bezel. The dial layout is familiar as well, with cleanly defined minute markers and big numerals at the cardinal positions. It’s still water resistant to 300 meters and equipped with a sapphire crystal, and the handset still features a distinctive, oversized, arrow shaped hour hand. The details, though, are what matters, and in those we have some major shifts.
The case, as you can plainly see, is bronze. This is a material that many dive watch makers have gravitated toward in recent years, as its natural patina (that can easily be reversed) has an inherent appeal to those of us who love old watches, but might not want to pay a large premium just for a weathered look. The dial has gone from a solid black to a fumé green, with the tone darkening as you get closer to the outside edge of the dial. Perhaps of even more interest to many is that Longines has returned the Legend Diver to its dateless origins. That’s right folks – no more symmetry breaking date window at 3:00. This correction to one of the most puzzling decisions from a big watch brand that I can recall in my time observing the industry is most welcome. It’s not that I dislike date windows – I tend to actually find them quite useful. But on a dive watch like this, there’s a purity and coherence to a dial that displays only the time, and I think it’s a definite improvement.
The Legend Diver in bronze is powered by Calibre L888.5 (a rebranded ETA A31.L11), which is part of the latest generation of ETA automatic movements with silicon balance-springs and extended power reserves. This watch will run 64 hours unassisted given a full wind, making it a convenient option for collectors who rotate through a collection. As mentioned up top, at 42mm the Legend Diver is as big and chunky as ever, but for some that will be a big part of its appeal. The lugs are still long and thin, and will likely stretch the case over the span of all but the largest of wrists. Again, this is a feature, not a bug, and while many will simply find it too large to wear comfortably, the long lines of the case are part of this watch’s heritage.
This bronze version of a watch that many either love or hate leaves a completely different impression than its stainless steel counterparts. Even for those who were and are fans of the original Legend Diver reissue, I think it’s fair to say that it’s a somewhat cold watch – dominated by the black dial and harsh lines of the minute markers. The bronze case here changes the character dramatically – it’s far less tool-ish in this arrangement, and even though it could withstand a dive if you needed it to, there seems to be an understanding here that that’s not why this watch exists at all. The green dial is a natural match for the bronze case, as well.
The new Legend Diver in bronze will be available in January, at a retail price of $3,000. Longines