The best watchmakers from around the world have been relying on microscopes and other measuring machines to size up the smallest of watch components, such as winders, bezels or spiral springs, with micrometre precision. After showcasing a GMT Zulu time variant and a 42 mm stainless steel model this year, Longines has now released its flagship model, the aptly named Longines Spirit Flyback in titanium (Ref. L3.8188.8.131.52). It is a large, high-end chronograph with a column wheel and a flyback. The flyback function is highly practical for pilots as it enables a chronograph to measure consecutive intervals of time smoothly and quickly. It also allows the hand to return instantly to zero and start measuring time again with a single press of the push-button, instead of performing the classic three-step sequence, stop-reset-start.
Great explorers like Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Howard Hughes achieved impressive heights wearing Longines timepieces on their wrists. With the latest Longines Spirit Flyback, the manufacturer has also paid tribute to one of its milestones, but this time, a technical one. The winged-hourglass brand was amongst the first, if not the first, to create a chronograph with a flyback function – examples of flyback movements at Longines can be traced back to 1925, with a patent registered on 16 June 1936.
The new watch comes in a 42 mm grade 5 titanium case. Apart from this new material, the Spirit Flyback in titanium retains all specifications of the steel models, with a combination of brushed surfaces with polished accents and a screw-in crown at 3 o’clock. The sapphire crystal is still framed by a bidirectional rotating bezel with a ceramic insert. It comes with a 60-minute scale, composed of small recessed squares and numerals/markers, filled with Super-LumiNova.
The watch gets a sunray anthracite dial with gilt hands, coated with Super-LumiNova® and a red pointer for the central chronograph seconds hand. All elements of the dial – leaf-shaped hour and minute hands, applied Arabic hour markers, and rings around the subdials and the inner flange – are gold-coloured, ensuring a vintage feel. There is a chronograph layout with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and a small 60-second counter at 9 o’clock, with the background matching the colour of the dial. The chronograph also comes with two pushers at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock to start and bring the central chronograph back to its original position. The five applied stars are still present and indicate the precision of the movement.
Inside the case is the self-winding calibre L791.4, a movement manufactured by ETA exclusively for Longines. A profoundly modified Valjoux 7753, it is equipped with a column wheel, a flyback function, a silicon balance spring (with anti-magnetic properties), and a 68-hour power reserve. Turning the watch over reveals a transparent caseback with six visible screws and its oscillating weight, engraved with a globe, the emblem of the Longines Spirit collection. The precision of the movement is chronometer-certified by the COSC. The watch is finished on a grade 5 titanium bracelet with a double-safety folding clasp and a push-piece opening mechanism, fitted with an interchangeability system (Ref. L3.8184.108.40.206). There is a black-and-grey NATO with a titanium tongue buckle on the model (Ref. L3.8220.127.116.11) though.