Thursday, October 15, 2009

Review Vintage Longines from the 60s


This is an interesting watch review as this is not my watch. This belongs to a friend. He got the watch as a gift from his friend. That friend bought the watch from a flea market in Argentina. From there the watch traveled to the US where it was given to my friend as a gift. Since then, the watch has been to Canada and now in Taiwan. As such, there is no information on the exact date of purchase or what is the model. I suspect that it belongs to the Flagship series launched in the 50s.

I managed to check from the Internet that similar watches were made by Longines in the 60s. The serial number of the movement is from that period as well. My friend on finding out that I was interested in watches asked if I could clean and service the watch. I told my friend that I could clean but not service the watch. The work that I carried out on the watch was replacing the aging spring bars, replace the worn out (not original) leather strap and clean the case and inside of the watch (including exposed parts of the movement). I asked if I could do a review of the watch and he agreed.


Collection: Flagship?
Manufacturer: Longines

Basic specifications:
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds
Case: stainless steel
Crystal: Acrylic crystal
Movement: Longines 30L
Water resistant: ?

CASE

The case is made of stainless steel. It has a polished finish. The finish is very good and you can't see any blemishes on the case. Either the owner has taken very good care of the watch or it is very well made. The case measures 35.5 mm in diameter. The lug to lug is 44 mm and the lug width is a unique 19 mm. It is 9 mm thin.


The case is made of 3 parts. The top with the crystal, the middle and the case back. The lugs are attached to the middle portion and the lugs are curved and which makes the watch very comfortable when worn. The lugs are long and suits the overall design of the watch. You can see the new spring bars fitted to the watch in the photograph below.


The crown is at the 3 o'clock position. It measures 5.5 mm in diameter, 2.5 mm thick and it is domed. It is very easy to use as the crown is large. The crown is polished and it is signed. This is where it gets interesting. The legend 'LONGiNES' is spelt with a lower caps 'i' in the Longines. I never knew this nor have I seen this before. The crown also have the Longines logo on it. I think the crown is the 'crowning' glory of the watch (pun intended). It is well made.



The case back is off the snap back case design and has a 2 'tone' finish. The center of the case back is brushed while the sides are polished. The center portion of the case back is stepped down. There are no markings on the outside of the case back. There may have been markings but there are none that can be seen now.


The inside of the case back is signed 'Longines' and it shows that the case is Swiss made. There are some numbers on the case back. I believe the numbers are the model number; 7136-2-788. The notch you see at the 12 o'clock position aligns with the stem tube on the case, while the 'flat' area at the 6 o'clock position is the 'notch' to pry open the case. As you can see from the photograph below, there are no place for any gaskets or o-rings. As such I believe the water resistant rating for this watch is poor.


The photograph below shows the general condition of the watch before it was cleaned. For a 40+ year old watch, it is not bad. There are no serious pitting corrosion and the movement seems clean.


The watch after it has had some minimal cleaning. I have advise my friend to seek the help of professional watchmaker to clean the watch and perhaps have it serviced, timed and regulated.


MOVEMENT

The watch comes fitted with the Longines manufactured (?) calibre 30L. This movement was introduced in 1955 and was produced until 1967. This is a 17 jewel manual wind movement. It beats at 18,000 A/h. The movement is non hacking. The size of the movement is indicated by the movement number, 30 mm. The movement features a very desirable screw weighted escapement. Additionally the jewels on the escape and 3rd. and 4th. wheel bars are encased in gold cups. Indeed a very pretty movement, even without any decorations and blue screws.


The movement is a basic 3 hand movement. The second is display on a sub-dial at the 6 o'clock position. There is no calendar complication. As such it has a two position crown, in for winding and pulled for time adjustment.


I have checked the serial number of the movement (and watch perhaps) and it seem to indicate that it could be from the late 50s or early 60s. There are indications that there was work done to the movement. The are some damage to the barrel bar where the pull out piece screw is located. Whoever worked on the movement did not have the correct size screwdriver and damaged the area around the screw. See photograph at the 10 o'clock position.


Another view of the pull out piece screw. We can see that the brass (?) base is exposed. We can also see the stem tube (4 o'clock position) where the case back notched mention earlier aligns to.


There are also some marks on the case screw. This indicates that the movement has been removed. However I believe that the movement is original to the watch. It is indeed sad to see that such movement is no longer being made by Longines.


DIAL

The dial is silver and is very clean for a 40+ year old watch. There are no markings on the watch other then the Longines signature and logo just below the 12 o'clock marker. Just below the 6 o'clock marker there is a legend 'SWISS'. The dial has a sunburst design that originates from the center. The hour markers are gold applied hour markers and the 3, 9 and 12 hours are marked by Arabic numerals. The 6 o'clock marker is a triangle.


The seconds is displayed via a sub-dial. The sub-dial is sunken. The sub-dial is also engine tuned. It makes the sub-dial stand out against the rest of the dial.


I have to say that the dial is well made. I like the dial as it is simple and allows for easy time reading.


HANDS

The hands are of the dauphine design. I am not sure if the hands are gold or plated. The hands are nice and I like the shape of the hands. The hands have a raised portion along the center ridge and gives it a 3D effect. The minute hand extends to the minute markers and the hour hand is short enough to balance the minute hand but still distinguishable from the minute hand to facilitate easy time reading.


The second has is also render in gold. Again I am not sure if it gold or plated. It extends to the second markers on the sub-dial.


CRYSTAL

The crystal is acrylic crystal. It is of the high dome design. I like the design. The use of acrylic allows the crystal to be polished if it is scratched. I do not think that there are any anti-reflection coating on the crystal. The high dome design does not distract the time telling in any way.


STRAP

The original strap that came with the watch is long gone. It has been replaced by a generic leather strap that I found too thin for the watch. I replaced the leather strap (which is showing signs of deterioration as well) with a one-piece cloth/ nylon military strap. I have a brown colour strap that looks good on the watch.


My friend, happily agreed with me on the selection of the strap. It makes the watch looks bolder and more masculine.

CONCLUSION

I like the watch. I find it beautiful. In fact I offered to take the watch off him. Sadly that was not to be. It is not a big watch and it is slim. The owner has taken very good care of the watch and it shows. Perhaps the great overall quality of the watch contributed to it looking good after all these years. It is not a heavy watch and the long lugs makes it a comfortable to wear. Maybe I might look for one in the secondhand market.


Correction: The watch was purchased from an antique shop and not a flea market as earlier reported. This was confirmed with the owner and his friend.

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