I recently had the pleasure of spending some hands-on time with the new Longines Heritage 1935 released at Baselworld this year. This particular model is a reissue of the watch supplied to the Czechoslovakian Air Force from 1935-1947. It was unfortunately a bit of a sleeper at this year’s show, especially when the brand announced the new utterly perfect Conquest Heritage 1954-2014 limited editions. I have to say, though, the pictures don’t do the 1935 justice.
When you pick up the 1935, you’ll feel the quality in the case construction right away. At 42mm, it’s a sizable watch and only 1mm larger than its 1935 inspiration, dubbed by collectors as the “CAF.” The steel case is beautifully finished to a mirror polish with a combination of smooth curves and angular beveling. The bezel, while it doesn’t have a pointer and rotate like that of the original CAF, is still the star of the design, providing an interesting texture that catches light from nearly any angle. Inside there’s Longines caliber L615, an ETA 2895-based movement with a subseconds register and date complication at 6 o’clock.
My biggest reservation about this piece was the inclusion of a date. The reproduction is mostly faithful down to even the sizing, but the date was a clear deviation. However, when I saw the 1935 in the metal, I was taken by the overall execution. While I’d much prefer no date, to dismiss the watch entirely due to its date aperture would be a mistake. The luminous white pear hands and Arabic hour markers against the black dial provides a striking contrast that you don’t anticipate from reissued pieces. With heritage references (think Legend Diver) you don’t often get bold whites and blacks but softer off-whites and charcoals that make a new watch seem aged like a genuine vintage piece. This classes the dial up a little bit beyond just an aviation watch and adds a touch of modernity.
The 1935 comes on a black alligator strap with contrast stitching. There’s no deployant clasp here, and instead the watch fastens with a signed Longines pin buckle–the same bucket you’d find on a Conquest Heritage. It’s a relatively dainty buckle, and the 1935 is probably deserving of something more substantial given the dimensions and heft of the case. On the wrist, the leather is comfortable and the sizing is quite bold, just as it was when the piece was originally manufactured for military CAF pilots. For a 1930s watch, you can imagine how big this must have been even at 41mm, but a case this size is at home on a contemporary wrist.
Each watch is individually numbered, but the best part is that the 1935 is, in fact, not a limited edition. The Heritage 1935 will arrive at authorized dealers in fall this year priced at $2,300.