Thursday, November 20, 2014


It has been sometime since I last did a watch review. So here is a review of a watch (photographic review) that I was fortunate enough to have held but stupidly did not get.... :( Anyway, from my understanding, this watch was released sometime in 2010 and sold out in record time. The watch?

The Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises, reference L2.732.4.76.2. This is the version with the black leather strap. There are.... were, as the watch has since been discontinued, 2 version, the other with a brown crocodile strap. That watch is reference L2.732.4.76.3. 

Anyway, before we begin, a bit about the history of the watch...

From the Longines website...

In 1947 France instigated a series of exploratory missions to the Arctic and Antarctica under the leadership of a renowned scientist, Paul-Emile Victor. 

The man himself...

These expeditions brought together geologists, geodesists, meteorologists, physicists, biologists, geographers and glaciologists all were aiming to explore, study and understand the North and South Poles. 

The mass of equipment required by the first Paul-Emile Victor missions for exploring these inhospitable regions included four Longines ship’s chronometers and fifteen Longines wristwatches which were used for determining their astronomical position. 

The original watch that was issued...

Photographs: shamelessly borrowed from the Internet

In honour of these exploratory missions the Swiss watchmaker has re-issued the time-piece used by the scientists on the Expéditions Polaires Françaises – Missions Paul-Emile Victor to explore Greenland and the Adélie Coast.

In the second half of the 1940s, public opinion was fascinated by the most distant corners of the Earth, which aroused a passionate interest among many people. Like other countries, France set up a body for organising national scientific expeditions, namely to the Arctic and Antarctica. Paul-Emile Victor, an ethnologist and explorer who had already spent a good deal of time in Greenland during the 1930s, was mandated to create and manage the new office. Between 1947 and 1976 the Expéditions Polaires Françaises – Missions Paul-Emile Victor organised 150 trips to Greenland and the Adélie Coast, led by the ethnologist.

A considerable amount of equipment was necessary for these expeditions in order to deal with the difficult conditions that prevailed in the inhospitable areas to which they were going. For example the expedition that left Europe in May 1948, took seven amphibious tracked vehicles, two Dakota aircraft, tractors, laboratory trailers, a mobile weather station, tents, sledges and 30 lorry-loads of supplies. For this exploratory trip the scientists also took four Longines chronometers, three being set to civil time and one to sidereal time. Fifteen members of the expedition wore stainless steel wristwatches made by Longines. These time-measuring instruments were intended primarily for determining the astronomical position of the expedition (they were also used for precise geodesic calculations). The reports on the performance of these timepieces written by the scientists who used them are a reminder of the crucial role such instruments played in scientific expeditions to the remotest parts of the world. By being part of these scientific expeditions in the mid-20th century, Longines also travelled northwards and southwards, to the two Poles.

Photographs: Longines

The Longines watch that the members of the Expéditions Polaires Françaises – Missions Paul-Emile Victor wore was a stainless steel wristwatch with a centre seconds. A centrally mounted second hand was still quite rare in the 1940s but apparently met the need for easy reading, as illustrated by the use of luminescent coating on the hour symbols, the numerals and the hands. A point of interest is that the Longines 12.68N calibre used in this model had an anti-shock device that was different from the standard feature in other Longines watches.

Longines has decided to re-issue the timepiece that accompanied the scientists who took part in the Expéditions Polaires Françaises – Missions Paul-Emile Victor as a tribute to these expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica to explore the remotest corners of our planet. The Longines Expéditions Polaires Françaises – Missions Paul-Emile Victor watch is an accurate reproduction of the instrument used at the time by the geologists, geodesists, meteorologists, physicists, biologists, geographers, glaciologists and film-makers that joined the expedition. Fitted with a self-winding mechanical movement, this model has a date aperture at 3 o’clock and a silvered dial with hour symbols and Arabic numerals, as well as hands coated in Super-LumiNova. It is available on a strap in either genuine brown alligator skin or black leather. The Longines Expéditions Polaires Françaises – Missions Paul-Emile Victor watch is engraved on the back of the stainless steel case, recalling the two geometrically opposed destinations of these legendary expeditions – the Arctic and Greenland, and the Antarctic and the Adélie Coast.

Lets get the basic specifications out of the way...

Case: 38.5mm diameter, 9mm thin, 48.5mm lug to lug, lug width 19mm
Crystal: sapphire
Water resistant: 3ATM
Movement: Longines L619 Automatic movement, based on ETA 2892A2

On to the photographs...

Please note that this review is long and apologies if the photographs are not in sequence... :)

The real Greenlander. The Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises. That is indeed a mouthful. For the sake of simplicity, I shall just call it the Polaires. I have to say that the watch is a nice reissue from Longines, along with the Legend Diver. 

The watch is fitted with a non original strap as the watch is not mine and I wore it for a couple of day and do not want to 'damage' the original strap. :)

The watch case is stainless steel and it is a 3 part case, case back, mid-case and bezel. The watch has a polished finish. It is a very beautifully made watch. 

Lovely smooth bezel. 

The silver dial. It has a vertical brushed finish and is curved along the edge. The dial is not really dome. The dial has very little legends on it, just the Longines signature and logo at 12 and 'AUTOMATIC' at 6. There is a date window at 3 o'clock. 

There have been much said about the inclusion of the date complication. I am fine with it as I think it brings the watch forward and present. Don't think it disrupts the 'harmony' of the dial design. :)

The crystal is sapphire. It is slightly domed and the edge is bevelled to the bezel. The crystal just sticks out of the bezel.

The hour markers luminous and the application is perfect. 

A closer view of the Arabic hour markers ...

It is interesting to note that the crown design is different from the initial mock up of the watch as issued by Longines. The final shape is much nicer and easier to use. I am glad that Longines decided to install a larger crown on the Polaires (as compared to the reissued W.W.W.).

The crown is a non screw down crown. The crown measures 5mm in diameter and is 3mm thick. It is shaped like a saucer. It has 3 positions, in for winding, first position for date adjustment and second for time. 

The crown is signed.

The case is slim. It is only 9mm thin. I love the extended lugs. It makes the watch very comfortable on the wrist. The other benefit is that the case back will not touch any surface and end up with scratches. 

The hands... 

The hands are blue, not sure if the hands are painted or heated or chemically blued. It is nice and well made. It contrast beautifully against the silver dial and makes reading time easy. The hands are lume filled with the lume plot of the hour hand broader compared to the minute hand. 

The minute hand just touches the minute markers and the pencil hands (double pencil) is sufficiently differentiated. The sweep second hand is also blue but without any luminous plots. 

The case back... 

Yes there is lots of writing on the case back. But the engravings are well done and does not 'eat' into your wrist (smooth to the touch).

Basically the case back honors the expeditions and also where the watch (original) have been...

Lets just appreciate the watch... It is an awesome watch and one has to see it in the flesh to really appreciate the combination of silver dial and blue hands...

Yes, at certain angles, the hands can look like it is black..

Attention to details... I just love that Longines has 'window frame' the date window and not just leave it as a simple cut-out. The other interesting detail? The crown. The base of the crown is convex and it sits in the case which has a slight concave to accommodate the convex bottom of the crown. Don't see that in many watches... 

I like the watch. It is a well executed reissue by Longines. Wish I got the watch when I had the opportunity...

The strap... 

The watch comes fitted with a simple black calf leather strap. It has white stitching and is well made. I removed the strap and fitted one of mine. It is important to note that the strap is an uncommon 19mm in width. It tapers down to 17.5mm at the tip. This makes using independent straps a tad difficult. The strap measures 115/75. 

The bottom of the strap is velvet lined. It is also signed and the width is clearly marked .

I am guessing it is the strap part number? Makes ordering a replacement easier. Nice touch Longines. 

The strap is matte black and is well made and very comfortable. 

The watch comes with a simple pin buckle. It is signed with the Longines logo. 

Highly polished and well made buckle. 

Yes, it is made of stainless steel. 

Conclusion? Well, I do like the watch and it is a well made watch. Lots of watch for the money. It is a watch that you have to see in the flesh to really appreciate the beauty of the watch. It wears beautifully and very comfortable. It does go against the current trend of larger watches, but after a couple of days with the watch... Lets say that my current collection of large watches have seen lesser and lesser light of day...

Photographs were shot with Fuji X-E1 with XF60mm lens.

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