In June 2020, Longines introduced the Spirit collection, which included three-hand models and a chronograph. Last year’s Spirit Zulu Time got a new GMT complication, and Longines has another Spirit in store for you this year. Meet the Longines Spirit Flyback, a 42mm stainless steel chronograph with a flyback function, available with your choice of a blue or black dial.

Longines Spirit Flyback

For this new Spirit Flyback, Longines decided to revisit its heritage as the developer and producer of some of the most beautiful chronograph movements (13ZN, anyone?). Even more interestingly, Longines was the first to have a wristwatch with a flyback chronograph (13.33Z) back in 1925. The company from St. Imier filed a patent for it on June 12th, 1935. Longines developed it for pilots because it allowed them to quickly time consecutive events without the hassle of stopping the chronograph before resetting it. Richard Byrd, the first pilot to fly over the South Pole, used a Longines watch and a solar compass to navigate his flight in 1929.

During one of his later expeditions to Antarctica in 1939, Byrd wore a Longines wristwatch (13ZN) with a flyback function. In the following decades, Longines developed several chronographs with flyback functions. But as you know, this all ended in the early 1980s when Longines became part of the Swatch Group and stopped developing its own movements.

An exclusive Longines movement

For a few years now, Longines has used exclusive movements for some of its watches. These movements are developed by ETA for (and with) Longines for specific watch models and collections, and no other (Swatch Group) brands use them. For the Spirit Flyback, the exclusive caliber is the L791.4. This is a chronometer-certified chronograph movement with a column wheel, a silicon balance spring, and antimagnetic alloys. It also delivers 68 hours of power reserve.

In addition, the watches undergo the chronometer testing and certification process with the movements already cased. This shows that Longines is making some big steps toward other higher-positioned brands. Normally, only the movements are shipped to COSC to be tested and certified, but brands like Rolex and Omega perform these tests and certification processes after the movement is cased. As you can see in the picture above, the movement has been decorated with perlage on the bridges, a blue column wheel, blue screws, and a nicely engraved winding rotor.

Longines Spirit Flyback

A dual-register dial

The Spirit Flyback is not a reproduction of anything vintage, but rather, it is a modern chronograph with a flyback function. It’s the movement/complication that refers to the history of Longines, not the watch’s design. I applaud this move because so many brands just keep on using their “old” designs for modern watches. In a lot of cases, that’s not a bad thing, and Longines did and does it as well. Still, it is definitely also good to have a modern-looking watch in the lineup. The Longines Spirit is such a collection, and now there’s a flyback chronograph in it too.

Without making it look like a vintage watch, Longines uses a two-register layout with sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock. The dial and sub-dials have polished rims, and at 12 o’clock, there’s the Longines hourglass logo. At 6 o’clock, you will find the five stars that belong to the modern Spirit collection as well as the “Flyback” and “Chronometer” wording. There’s lume on the hour markers and all three large hands for optimal legibility.

Longines Spirit Flyback

Straps and bracelets

The Longines Spirit Flyback will be available on a leather strap, a blue fabric two-piece strap, a beige NATO strap, and a stainless steel bracelet. The leather and fabric straps come with a folding, micro-adjustable clasp. The stainless steel three-row bracelet has a triple-fold safety clasp and a quick-release system. Although the stainless steel bracelet does not disappoint, I prefer this watch on a leather or fabric strap.

Longines Spirit Flyback

On the wrist

The dimensions of the Longines Spirit Flyback are not for the faint-hearted, not so much because of its 42mm diameter but mainly because of its 17mm thickness. That said, on the wrist, it is very wearable, and my colleague Lex, who also tried the watch, agrees with me here. Never let “dry specs” scare you away from a watch. However, there’s also no doubt that a 17mm thickness is substantial, and it comes close to that of my Seamaster PloProf. But also with that watch, it’s not an issue for me and many others. Just make sure to give this watch a try if you’re in doubt.

Longines Spirit Flyback

Fit and finish

What becomes apparent when wearing this Longines Spirit Flyback on the wrist is the comfort, despite the dimensions. As I said, I prefer it on a strap, but you can see it being worn on the bracelet in the photo above. The case finishing looks great and consists of a brushed case band and lug tops with a polished bevel separating them. I like this big, fat bevel that runs across the entire length of the case. The bezels on both versions (black and blue) have ceramic inserts and match the respective colors of the dial perfectly. As I mentioned before, the sunray dials and sub-dials have polished rims as well as applied hour markers, which give a nice contrast to the black or blue backgrounds.

Longines Spirit Flyback

Last thoughts

What I like about this watch is that it offers incredible value for money. The versions on leather, two-piece fabric, and NATO straps will have a price of €4,850, and the version on the stainless steel bracelet will retail for €4,950. For this, you will get a chronograph watch with a column wheel and flyback function, chronometer certification after the antimagnetic movement has been cased, and a power reserve of 68 hours. The Longines Spirit Flyback also has a screw-down crown and is water resistant to 100 meters (10 ATM). Luckily, the dial forgoes the date window, and on top of that, the design is contemporary. On my 18.5cm (~7.25″) wrist, the watch works perfectly.

For more information, visit the official Longines website. You can also find all of our articles about Longines here.

Watch specifications

Spirit Flyback
Blue or black with sunray finish, applied hour markers and polished hands with Super-LumiNova
Case Material
Stainless steel with brushed and polished finishes, ceramic bezel insert
Case Dimensions
42mm (diameter) × 17mm (thickness)
Sapphire with antireflective coating on both sides
Case Back
Stainless steel with sapphire display window
Exclusive caliber L791.4 — certified chronometer; chronograph with column wheel, silicon balance spring, and antimagnetic alloys; 68-hour power reserve
Water Resistance
10 ATM (100 meters)
Leather, two-piece fabric, or NATO strap / stainless steel three-row bracelet
Time (hours, minutes, small seconds), 30-minute chronograph with flyback function, 60-minute timing bezel
€4,850 (straps) / €4,950 (bracelet)