Pre-Owned Spotlight: A Brilliant Trio Of Vintage Longines Watches From Classy To Quirky
For a while, there’s been an ongoing discussion at Fratello HQ on vintage Longines watches. We are constantly impressed at how affordable these pieces remain despite the brand’s respectable reputation and undeniable quality. We have even found ourselves referring to these watches as undervalued — sleeper hits that are just waiting for appreciation to catch up. Today, I’ve selected a trio of watches that I feel give a taste of why these watches are so appealing. Price-wise, these examples are on the upper end of the scale. Please keep that in mind should the figures appear intimidating. With a little bit of digging and patience, you could find a real gem for under €500. That said, the three watches I’ll show you today are certainly priced fairly, considering what you get.
Another limiting factor for these articles is the photos available. In my research for putting these picks together, I had to pass up some incredible offers simply due to the low-quality pictures. The main example that comes to mind is a 35mm 18K gold-cased Longines reference L4.218.104.22.168 from the ’40s or ’50s with an absolutely stunning dial. At just €1,600, you get the freshly serviced watch and a vintage Longines box. In my book, that’s one hell of a deal. Unfortunately, the pictures are simply not good enough to feature on the site. That said, I’m confident that the three watches that I’ve selected will draw your attention toward the value proposition that is vintage Longines watches.
Longines Calatrava “Suiza” ref. 5357
When a watch looks as good as this 1950s Longines, the box and papers are the very last thing that matters. You will, however, will get an extract from the archives that shows the proud Italian provenance of this specific piece. The fact that it was delivered to Messrs Ostersetzer, Longines’s agent in Milan, also explains “Suiza” on the dial. The watch is in great condition for its age. The stunning silver dial is minimalism incarnate. With Arabic numerals lining the outer edge beside a subtle minute track and no text on the dial other than “Longines” and “Suiza” at 12 o’clock, it’s proof that less can indeed be more. Thin silver leaf hands and a beautiful seconds hand elegantly display the time.
Inside the stainless steel case, you’ll find a freshly serviced high-grade Longines caliber 12.68N, a thing of beauty in its own right. A flat oversized crown and bare domed case back maintain the minimalist aesthetic of this piece. The dial presents some patina but nothing that detracts from the charm of this watch. Tastefully paired with vintage-style beads-of-rice bracelet, this lovely timeless piece is on offer from our friends at Shuck The Oyster for €2,900.
Longines Ultronic Chronograph Tuning Fork ESA 9210
I came across this particular model a few weeks ago on a Spanish classifieds website, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. There was something unique about the unmistakably ’70s case and bracelet — the bright white polar dial with contrasting black text and markings gives it a strong, industrial aesthetic. The case’s sides sweep beautifully and are matched by the scalloped curve of the bezel. The watch is equipped with a pair of chunky pushers and one of the most unique-looking crowns I’ve seen on a watch. The overall design is an eclectic blend of sweeping angles and harsh, blocky shapes that somehow just works.
Initially, due to the dial layout, I thought it would be a Valjoux 7750 inside. But I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that it’s actually a Bulova-licensed, Longines-signed tuning-fork movement inside. Mechanical snobs may scoff at a quartz watch, but there’s nothing less interesting about this movement. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s more interesting than a Valjoux 7750. That said, servicing may be slightly more complicated. However, you won’t have to worry about that for a while as the watch is on offer at Unwind In Time, fully serviced, for a reasonable US$1,895. If you prefer, a black-dial variant also exists, and with some digging, you may be able to find one for a reasonable price.
Longines Monobloc Diver ref. 6248/1
No collection is complete without a dive watch. A staple in almost every brand’s catalog since the late 1950s, I couldn’t neglect including one on my list. In June of last year, Longines reissued its high-beat Ultra-Chron diver, much to our collective delight. You can certainly find vintage examples of this quirky-looking ’70s diver for reasonable prices. Originally, I set out to find one such example, yet in my search, I stumbled across something even better. You’ll instantly recognize the look of this Longines dive watch from the early ’70s as a contemporary of the Ultra-Chron. Perhaps this was a more affordable alternative with a standard movement. Regardless, the Ultra-Chron’s good looks combined with a classic skin-diver-style case, it’s vintage dive-watch perfection!
The watch has a 37mm stainless steel monobloc case. This means that there is no removable case back. Instead, the movement must be accessed through the front of the watch, removing the bezel and crystal to reveal the components inside. The watch is in pretty decent shape for its age. Divers tend to see a bit more action than most other watches, so it’s more common to find them well used and pretty chewed up. On this example, the color on the Bakelite bezel and the minute hand is well preserved. Available from a private seller on Vinted for €1,790, you get the watch, a new canvas strap, and a vintage Longines box.
This trio of Longines watches ranges from the classy to the quirky. Regardless of the watches’ styles, I hope you’ll agree that these are three perfect examples of why Longines is a brand worth keeping an eye on both in the vintage market and its current offerings. Though we still have a hard time understanding why vintage Longines watches remain underappreciated, I hope our spilling the beans here will help you find something you enjoy, whether it’s one of these three beauties or any of the tens of thousands on offer today. That said, be careful out there. The secondhand market requires a lot of patience, and unless you’re buying from a reliable source, a bit of expert advice goes a long way. When in doubt, buy the seller, not the watch. And always make sure you’re confident in what you’re buying before going for it.
What are your thoughts on this trio of vintage Longines watches? Do you have a favorite vintage model to keep an eye out for? Or was Longines a brand that was previously in your blind spot? Either way, let me know in the comments below.