Big news for fans of the Longines Legend Diver as the brand’s long-standing vintage effect dive watch has been retooled with a smaller case. Now in 39mm, the 2023 Legend Diver has been resized to reflect the current taste and is now offered in black or blue lacquer dials, and, as is common for the Swiss brand, you get a choice of straps or a steel bracelet.
Both colorways offer the same brand new 39mm steel case, which is 12.7mm thick and 47mm lug to lug. With 300 meters of water resistance, a closed steel case back, and two crowns – one for setting the time (no-date is the only option at this time) and one to control the bidirectional rotating internal bezel – it’s the Legend Diver we’ve known and loved since 2007, but refreshed for maximum wearability.
Replete with COSC certification, Longines has fitted the newLongines Heritage Legend Diver 39 with the brand’s modern and ETA-based L888.6. It’s an automatic movement with 72 hours of power reserve and a silicon balance spring. Furthermore, the Legend Diver is also an ISO 6425-compliant dive watch (for those of you keeping score).
While either the black or the blue dials can be had with a full steel tapered bracelet, the blue version can be optioned with a blue nylon NATO-style strap, or you can get the black dial with a vintage-style brown leather.
As I alluded to above, the Longines Heritage Legend Diver 39 was launched back in 2007, and it was a huge success that put Longines at the forefront of the then-novel “new vintage” movement. Based on a design from 1959, the Legend Diver was originally a Super-Compressor-style diver that measured 42mm wide. For 2023, in a somewhat backward turn of events, the Legend Diver has been re-born with a smaller footprint meant to translate the mid-century design into a sizing that is more in line with today’s tastes. What I find funny – aside from a modern version of a watch being smaller than the 1950s original – is that the 2007 Legend Diver was already a bit small for popular tastes when it launched during a time that was likely more connected to the rise of larger designs like those from Panerai (and let’s not forget that Longines does continue to offer a 36mm legend diver).
But at Longines Heritage Legend Diver 39mm, in an era downstream of the commercial success of watches like the Tudor Black Bay 58, the sizing seems just right. And where the case width has shrunk by 3mm, the lug-to-lug is more than 5mm shorter than on the 42mm model (from 52.4mm to 47mm). For a watch that was often noted as being quite long in the case – too long for my wrist – this change might be the secret to making this beautiful design suit a wider range of wrists.
All told it’s a simple, understandable, and entirely exciting development for one of the OG faux-vintage dive watches. With new sizing, continued tool-level specs, COSC timekeeping, and a variety of mount options, Longines Heritage Legend Diver 39 continues to impress with their 2023 novelties, and I’d imagine that this new take on an old diver will be very popular for those who appreciated the Legend Diver design but wanted it in a more conventional mid-sized offering.