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longines legend diver watch

The Replica Longines Legend Diver collection, since its inception in 2007, has presented a strong example of heritage revivals done right. Longines, a trendsetter in this regard, has always done a great job of digging into their rich archives to take beloved designs of the brand and reinterpret them with fresh and flavourful notes that speak to modern buyers. One standout element of recent Legend Divers are their lacquered gradient dials, giving a sporty reference a dressy and playful twist. For 2022, Longines has decided to expand the menu by introducing vivid burgundy, sand beige and ash grey gradient dials into the mix.
For the 2022 refresh of the collection, the real change-up here is the new dial colours. The stainless-steel case is still 42mm in diameter, 12.7mm thick, and 52.4mm lug-to-lug, with two screw-down crowns (one to operate the inner timing bezel and the other to adjust the time and date) and a depth rating of 300 metres. Inside, beneath a solid caseback, is the self-winding Calibre L888.5 (ETA A31.L11) with an anti-magnetic silicon balance-spring and a “weekend-proof” 72 hours of power reserve. While there is much that remains familiar, two new gradient colourways for the 42mm collection, sand beige and ash grey (pictured above), bring new versatile and neutral tones into the staple collection.
When a brand releases two sizes of a particular watch model, typically more attention is paid to the larger size – the smaller, at times, is an afterthought. To date, the Longines Legend Diver 36mm was only available in black and white mother-of-pearl, so the more compact take on the classic diver had far less options to explore. Today, this is remedied, with three colours now debuting in the 36mm size. Like the 42mm, the 36mm will also be available in the new sand beige gradient configuration as well. But, exclusive to the size, Longines introduces a new vivid burgundy gradient dial to the 36mm collection. This rich glass of Bordeaux may be a day late for any Valentine’s festivities, but it’s a colour that is really distinct and would work well all year round. Longines was making stellar heritage reissues well before it was cool. Case in point is the stylish ’60s-inspired Legend Diver, first released way back in 2007. And while it’s become de rigueur for most major brands to release one or two retro pieces a year, the Longines Legend Diver (LLD) pioneered the reissue genre, and still holds its own, thanks to a well-balanced trifecta of timeless good looks, clear vintage style and cracking value. First off, let’s tackle the style. The internal rotating bezel and twin crowns of the Legend draw their inspiration from a type of dive watch that was popular in the ’60s and ’70s called the Super Compressor. Most dive watches rely on thick cases, crystals and gaskets to create an impermeable wall to keep moisture out. The Super Compressor’s approach, however, was slightly different. Developed by case-maker E. Piquerez SA (EPSA), it relied on the external pressure of the water to aid the water resistance of the watch – the deeper you went, the tighter the seal. It’s a clever system and was widely used by a range of watchmakers from the ’50s through to the ’70s – with notable examples including Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Hamilton and, of course, Longines. A key feature of many of these watches is the dual crowns – one to deal with the time, the other handling the internal rotating bezel.
That’s the theory. But how does the Longines Legend Diver look in reality? Well, it looks the business. At 42mm, the case is hefty and, if anything, I’d say it wears on the larger side thanks to the long, curving lugs and narrow bezel. Aside from these features, the case is quite spartan, with simple lines and a polished finish, all of which serves to let the dial shine. And what a dial. Glossy, black and surprisingly deep thanks to the internal bezel, it’s shown off to full effect under the domed sapphire crystal, with creamy printing and generously long markers that effortlessly combine legibility and vintage chic. Aside from the markers and arrowhead handset, the look is relatively sparse, with brand, hourglass logo and cursive ‘Automatic’ text the only other features. (Incidentally, Longines initially made versions of the LLD with and without a date function, but discontinued the no-date version, so obviously that’s now very much in-demand from collectors.)
The LLD is rated to 300m, achieved using screw-down crowns and caseback rather than the compression style case that inspired it. It’s powered by an ETA 2824, hidden away behind a solid caseback, replete with a handsome engraving of a skin diver. The strap is one of the more polarising elements of the watch. Made in the padded sailcloth style, it’s very stiff at first, and I know many people swap it out quite quickly, but I think it suits the overall vibe of the piece.
It’s strange to think that this heritage reissue is 10 years old – it was one of the first models that really caught my eye when I was getting into watches. For me it still stands out as one of the best examples of its type, and an important release that went a long way to popularising the vintage revival that has dominated the industry in the past decade.