Hands-On: Longines Skin Diver Review
Longines simply can’t make a bad Heritage watch.
Out of all the Swatch Group brands, Longines is the one company that nails their vintage reeditions 99% of the time. They are also doing it with a very small but talented design team in house. I should know, I’ve met them in Basel last year (thank you Swatch Group Germany!). For many years now the Longines Heritage models are the favorites of the press (first) and the enthusiasts (as soon as the pieces hit the stores). This was exactly the case last year when during this aforementioned visit the guys showed me not only one but two future-Heritage watches. The first was the Military Pilot, which I reviewed in March. The second was this cool piece; the Longines Skin Diver. A watch that’ll probably be as much of a hit as a previous Heritage model was. Can you guess which one?
Longines Skin Diver
Of course, I’m talking about the Longines Legend Diver, another superstar from the brand that – in a “refreshed” form – is still part of the Heritage model line. Hardcore fans might know what I’m referring to when I say, “refreshed”. It has something to do with the date. However, we’re here to talk about the Skin Diver and not the Legend Diver. For now. The original Skin Diver was Longines first dive watch. It came out in 1959 just a few years after Omega released the Seamaster 300. The watch was 40mm large, which was considered huge for the ‘50s. It had a black Bakelite diving bezel, a material brands often used at the time. Bakelite bezels are pretty rare these days as they are very fragile, especially as time goes by and they age. The Longines Skin Diver had no date or any other function. Just like its successor.
What is a skin diver?
If you have a PADI certificate or your name is Jason Heaton, please move on to the next paragraphs. Otherwise, hang around and I might be able to clear the mist in your head that surrounds various diving expressions. You hear things like “snorkelling” or “skin diving” perhaps “free diving” but there’s a difference between them. If you have a tank on your back, you are scuba diving, that’s easy. Now, snorkelling is something many of us have probably done in the past. You use a snorkel, a mask, and fins, swim just below the water. Skin Diving is a term that’s not in use much these days. Essential a skin diver is a snorkeler who, from time to time, dives deeper underwater without any breathing apparatus and without a bodysuit hence the name skin diving. Freediving is even more complex than skin diving.
Here, the diver is wearing a bodysuit but no tank, instead they use their lung capacities to stay underwater for a long period of time. As you can guess by then when Longines came up with the name Skin Diver the people who they had in mind were recreational divers. People who do this as a hobby and not necessarily go too deep under water. The vintage Longines Skin Diver had a depth rating of 150m while the new Skin Diver is water resistant down to 300m. just like the vintage version, the new Longines Skin Diver is also a great watch for hobby divers, even semi-professional ones. It wears great and looks nice, the proportions are perfect the watch does not feel head heavy at all. I had it on a rubber strap but if you fancy steel a Milanese bracelet is also an option.
Like father like son
When it comes to the overall design of the watch it looks almost exactly like the vintage version. Including – fake – patina. I know many of you say, this would be the perfect watch if it did not have faux lume on the dial. I hear you and perhaps to a certain degree, I even agree with you. Having said that, I think in this case it helps to achieve an overall vintage look and actually matches the timepiece. To carry on with aged feel, the Skin Diver had a black grained dial. Some say it’s awesome, others think it’s too much. I personally like it, then again, I like the whole watch. The dial is huge, clean and easy to read. The indexes, the numerals (at 3-6-9-12) even the amount and position of the texts are identical to the old version.
Case and crown
The new Longines Skin Diver is 42mm, 2mm larger than the original one. Not too big, but not a small watch either. The case has long, straight lugs (almost 10mm long), a big crown that sticks out of the case quite a bit and the huge black bezel. The new bezel is not Bakelite anymore, it is made of coated steel and is unidirectional. While many vintage dive watches had a super-compressor case with 2 crowns and inner rotating bezel, the original Longines Skin Diver (as so the new one as well) had an outer bezel and only one crown. However, that is a compressor crown, meaning that the deeper the diver dove the tighter it became protecting the watch from water getting into the case. The crowns on these cases had a crosshatch pattern. So the new Longines Skin Diver also got one, albeit it’s only decoration.
The back has the diver motif that we can see on many vintage dive watches. It is obviously a screw down back with the usual information you would find on a new watch. Stuff like the model name, water resistance, or reference number. Under the case back you can find the Longines L888.2 (ETA A31.L01) caliber, a self-winding movement with 21 jewels and 64 hours of power reserve. The Vph of the watch is 25,200. It is the same movement as you can find in the Longines Legend Diver PVD and the Longines Military as well. A trusty movement that does its job. Thank god for the designer at the company did not think if adding the date function to the watch. Like they did with the revised Legend Diver models. Thank you Longines, you made the right decision.
Price and more
The Longines Skin Diver is available only in steel, with the black dial and faux patina. You can choose between 3 strap options though. If you fancy the real diver look, the black Tropic-style rubber (like the one I had) is the way to go. However, the rubber strap picks up lint easily. If you want to go with the vintage look, a brown leather strap with black stitching is your option. It gives an aged look to the timepiece but obviously, you won’t be able to enjoy the Skin Diver underwater. If, however, you are a bracelet guy you can get the Longines Skin Diver on a stainless steel Milanese-style bracelet. Regardless of which option you go with the retail price is €2,460 so choose wisely. The price is perhaps the only weak point of the watch, it could’ve been a tad bit cheaper in my opinion.
If you’d like to visit Longines’ website, please click here.