I can report a new addition to my collection, my very first Longines watch, a vintage Longines. I do believe Longines is an interesting brand with a rich history and with some very interesting vintage watches that have many followers among collectors. When it comes to modern Longines there is light and shadow but that’s with almost every brand. I will write a few words on my take on modern Longines at the end, but for now, let’s take a closer look at my new Longines.
A late 1960s Longines Ultra-Chron 7827 with Caliber 431. An interesting watch in many aspects. Let’s start with what’s in a name. “Ultra-Chron” is Longines’ label of high-frequency movements with 36,000 vph, very similar to the Chronometer HFs from Girard-Perregaux. However, the Ultra-Chron here is without Chronometer certification. It is probably due to the time as the Neuchatel Observatory stopped it’s certification competition in 1967 and the later COSC certifications started in 1973. Even GP High-Frequency movements did no longer carry the Chronometer mark in the early 70s.
Regardless, Caliber 431 from Longines is an own development unlike the Girard-Perregaux 32A which was based on a A. Schild base caliber. It’s a very reliable and well-designed automatic caliber with date and high-frequency balance. With a typical 25.6mm or 11.5′” diameter also suited for larger cases, which is evident on the 34.5mm case diameter of Ref. 7827 with the date window placed right at the outer-side of the dial.
Speaking of the dial and case. The dial has a lot of “action” going. Besides the framed date window and the vibrant indexes that put their “mark” on the dial without over-dominating, there are a few other elements on the dial that catch the eye. Underneath the Longines brand name, you have a polished applied logo and the unavoidable “automatic” text during those days in a nice italic writing. Balancing it off at the lower half is an applied “wave” logo denoting the high-frequency technique and “Ultra-Chron” text. The cherry on the cake is a crosshair print and a signed dial with “- SWISS MADE -” denoting it is a dial without any lume. The hands as well as the indexes have an ebony insert.
When you move the watch in the light, there are countless variations of reflections to discover. And the case adds to this even further. Classic lug design and round case, but the watch is not just mirror polished. The lugs have a vertical brush and the bezel has an inner mirror-polished ring and an outer sunburst brush. A lot of thought and effort went into this design. The case overall is a monocoque design, which means there is no case-back that can be removed, instead the plexi-glass would need to be removed in order to take out the movement for service. The case-back features again the Ultra-Chron Logo as shown on the photo.
So what is the feel of this watch on the wrist? It is an unmistakably 1960s vintage look and feel. For Ref. 7827 it is essential that you find an unpolished original case condition to really understand the charm of this watch. The dial design with the cross-hair plays a major part in the enjoyment of wearing it. And I love putting my ear on it and hear the “tiktiktiktiktiktiktik” rather than the more common “tik-tok-tik-tok”.
As promised some final thoughts on Longines overall and their modern collection. Being part of the Swatch Group, the brand has to take its place within the conglomerate of other brands. It is deliberately positioned at lower price levels than the Breguet, Blancpain or Omegas, which unfortunately puts some restrictions on it. Longines has been riding the “Heritage” train and there has been a good number of successful releases and interesting re-editions of vintage Longines models. Sometimes, I feel they are over-doing it, but then it makes the real vintage Longines the more interesting. Certainly a manufacture to watch.