Longines just announced the forthcoming release of two new retro dive watches, but I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peak at them earlier in the month. I’ve seen both the chronograph and the three-hander in the metal, and I can assure you they check every box for a perfect throwback to a late 60s/early 70s diver: a cushion case, square dial and hand decoration, bold size and coloring and, yes, an inner-rotating bezel. Like with any Heritage release from Longines, you’re getting faithful reproductions of all of this vintage goodness with today’s ETA movements. Unlike the Legend Diver and the Conquest Heritage, these new divers aren’t exact reissues but instead borrow significantly from a couple of earlier references while allowing some room for improvisation.
The new 43mm three-hander is reminiscent of the Ultra-Chron (#8221-2), a super-compressor regarded for its bold design and exceptional in-house movement. Longines caliber 431, a high-frequency automatic movement beating at 36,600 bph, has been replaced by the caliber L633.5, which is essentially a workhorse ETA 2824-2. The top surface of the 300m-rated case has a deep radial brushing, but the sides are polished. Two signed crowns are positioned on the right-hand side of the case, one at 2 o’clock for operating the bezel and the other at 4 o’clock for adjusting the date and time. Aside from the placement of the date aperture at 3 o’clock instead of between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions as in the original, the dial is relatively faithful to the Ultra-Chron.
I have to admit the chronograph is my favorite of the two. Inspired by another super-compressor, the Dive-Timer (#8224-1), it also measures 43mm and features rich radial brushing on the top of the case. It’s water resistant to 300m. Since chronograph pushers occupy the right side of the case, the signed crown for operating the internal countdown bezel is at 10 o’clock. Notice how the inner flange is graduated from 60 to 0 instead of the other way around, just like the original Dive-Timers, so you synchronize the inner bezel with the minute hand to countdown to a specific amount of time.
When it comes to the dial, the chronograph version deviates more from its predecessor than the three-hander does. The Dive-Timer had a tri-compax dial layout with the running seconds at 9 o’clock, the 30-minute totalizer at 3 o’clock and the hour counter at 6 o’clock. The new Heritage diver dropped the 6 o’clock subdial in favor of a date aperture and swapped the positions of the minutes and running seconds registers. What I particularly enjoy about the chronograph version are the use of color and its contrast subdials. The white on black is striking and I love how Longines replicated the details on the registers, from the fonts to the indices to the red stroke on the minutes totalizer. Behind the dial is caliber L651.3, an ETA 2894-2 automatic chronograph movement, instead of a Valjoux 72, a manually wound chronograph.
Neither watch is a 1:1 reproduction, but each iteration does a fantastic job of reliving the era. The case sizing, dial designs and inner bezels are retained from the originals. Both come on either a rubber strap or the same synthetic sailcloth strap you’d find on a Legend Diver. Available in the Fall, the three-hander will retail for $2,550 and the chrono will go for $3,750.