A Gray Monday Morning Asks For A Longines Spirit Flyback Titanium On An Equally Gray Strap
Stating that the chronograph is by far the most popular complication sounds about right. In truth, though, it isn’t. The date function is the most basic complication and by far the most widespread. In fact, it’s so common that people go through more effort to find and buy a watch without a date function than with one. The chronograph, on the other hand, is a type of watch you actively seek. The added stopwatch complication made the chronograph an important instrument for timing and navigating. Doctors, meteorologists, astronomers, racecar drivers, and astronauts all benefitted from the invention of the chronograph. Nowadays, these watches with sub-dials and pushers have become “daily beaters” for a large group of people. Could the Longines Spirit Flyback Titanium be such an all-around watch?
My very simple theory on the popularity of chronographs is this: men like chronographs because there is stuff to play with that moves back and forth. The extra hands and pushers make it look complex and interesting, just like old stereo sets, car dashboards, and airplane cockpits with all the bells and whistles. Does the Longines Spirit Flyback Titanium on a gray NATO-style strap have enough stuff to play around with? Also, does it have “the look”?
Longines Spirit Flyback Titanium: can a gray watch have “daily beater” potential?
Gray might not seem like a charismatic color, but when used with other tones, it actually is. Gray is less definitive and harsh than black, for instance. And when paired with a touch of rose gold, the warmth of that color seems to warm up the initial coolness of gray. The dial of the Longines Spirit Flyback Titanium (L3.8188.8.131.52) is the perfect example. The dark anthracite gray of the dial comes to life because of the gold-tone hands, applied numerals, outlines of the sub-dials and flange, stars, and winged hourglass logo. What also works very well are the two touches of red. With too much red, it would look tacky, and with too little, it would look odd. Just enough red, as we see here, makes it look just right.
And what about that two-tone gray and black NATO-style strap? At first, I didn’t like it. It reminded me of a late-1980s Czechoslovakian wedding suit. But that kind of changed once I put the watch on. The nylon didn’t suddenly feel silky smooth like a Brioni made-to-measure suit, but on the wrist, it felt comfortable enough. Also, once wrapped around it, I found the two-tone design less noticeable than when I saw the long strap laid out in front of me.
Some more in-depth observations and experiences
The Spirit collection was introduced in 2020 and had my attention from the start. Sure, the stars are a touch that I’m still trying to fully embrace. But other than that, most Spirit models are convincing creatures, mixing modernity with traditional design codes of pilot’s watches. Maybe the model I like best so far is the two-tone 39mm Spirit Zulu Time (L3.802.5.53.2). Will the Spirit Flyback Titanium topple that travel watch?
Well, just by looking at it, it quite possibly could. But can it specs-wise? Let’s start with some measurements. This dual-register chronograph comes in a Grade 5 titanium case with a 42mm diameter, a 17mm height, and a 49mm lug-to-lug length. It’s the height that stands out. I can handle the diameter and length, but the height? Also, because the watch is on a NATO-style strap, the height reaches almost 20mm in total. The extra layers of fabric under the case and the shape of it make the watch sit very tall on the wrist. I had to strap it on quite tightly to keep it from moving and make it stay put. It did find a nice spot on my wrist, but every time I glanced at it, I couldn’t help but notice how towering the whole combo looked.
Another strong visual element that is hard to overlook — I mean this in a good way — is the bidirectional bezel with its shiny black ceramic insert. It’s not your average bezel because when you look closely, you’ll notice that the 60-minute scale is composed of small, recessed squares. Apart from those, you’ll also see more common markers and numerals filled with Super-LumiNova.
Too much going on?
As I mentioned earlier, chronographs are loved because they’ve got a lot going on. The question is: does a big, chunky chronograph on a two-tone NATO-style strap have too much going on? Maybe for me, it does. A leather strap in either a dark gray hue or an earthy tone would not only look right but would also improve the way this watch presents itself on the wrist.
When it comes to finishing, though, there can hardly ever be too much going on. The good news is that Longines makes the gray titanium base material look lush and luxurious. Polished details make all the difference on a material that is 40% lighter than steel, but when not executed correctly, they can also make it look 40% less appealing. Thankfully, Longines did a great job with the finishing, as Thomas mentioned here. The polished bevels along the case sides are defined and precise, and the brushing is deep and tactile.
The basis of the Spirit
The flyback function of the chronograph is possibly the talking piece of this titanium Spirit. Longines could very well be the inventor of the chronograph with a flyback function, but the history of watchmaking can be a bit murky, and this is no exception. Anyway, as far back as 1925, Longines made flyback chronographs that were very useful to pilots who had their hands full keeping primitive aircraft in the air. The function allowed two fewer operations when timing. The chronograph hands would instantly return to zero and start measuring time again with just a single press of the pusher, eliminating the need to first stop and reset it.
Inside the 100m-water-resistant case of the latest flyback chronograph and visible through the sapphire window on the back beats the 4Hz caliber L791.4, an ETA movement made exclusively for Longines. The heavily modified Valjoux 7753 is outfitted with a column wheel, a silicon balance spring, and a 68-hour power reserve. It’s plenty precise too because it has been certified as a chronometer by the COSC.
“Daily beater” or not?
Did I mention the price of the Longines Spirit Flyback Titanium yet? I know I didn’t. Here in the Netherlands, the price is €5,450. To put that into perspective, that money will also buy you a 41 × 14.2mm Tudor Black Bay Chrono — the €5,230 M79360N-0008 on a black fabric strap, that is. Let me know if the price, size, and looks of the Spirit Flyback Titanium are good enough for your consideration, not simply as a chronograph that sits in your collection but as a “daily beater.”