When I wanted to buy my first substantial watch, I was really into dive watches, so I studied diver after diver looking for the perfect Swiss Made entry level to mid-range piece. My dad wore a couple of Longines watches throughout my childhood, so because of that I grew up thinking that Longines was luxury. I looked at the Hydroconquest and it appealed to me. Ultimately I wound up deciding between a TAG Heuer Aquaracer, Oris Diver Date and the Longines. For about a thousand bucks, these are the best divers you can buy.

Here were my criteria:

  • Diver with significant heft and water resistance. I wanted a substantial everyday watch that is both elegant and rugged.
  • Submariner-style look without being a clone (absolutely no Mercedes hands).
  • I wanted a Swiss Made dive watch with cachet. I was spending $1-1.5K, so I wanted it to really look like and be recognized as a “grown up watch.”
  • I wanted to buy from a brand that has a rich history.
  • 40-42mm size range with a stainless steel bracelet. No butterfly clasp.

Nice to haves were an exhibition caseback, domed crystal and a partially polished bracelet (either center or outside links, but not both).

The value of the Longines is what sealed the deal. No, I didn’t get my nice-to-haves (except a bracelet with polished center links), but I got everything else I wanted and the price of the Longines was significantly lower ($1,150 vs $1,500 for TAG and Oris). As far as I’m concerned (and I’ve tried on a lot of watches), you can feel the value oozing from this thing, and I’d rate it one of the best buys in the market right now. You can pick one up for $800-900 on the gray market. Even less used.

It houses an élaboré grade ETA 2824-2 automatic self-winding movement. Tried and true, and accurate to about +4 seconds per day.

Two things that really stood out to me after my first Longines purchase:

  1. Everything lines up perfectly. Every mark on the bezel aligns flawlessly with the dial marks. Each applied marker is lumed with a consistently sized and centered paint.
  2. The finishing is stunning. There is such a sharp contrast between the polished and brushed areas. A luxurious mix of polished and brushed surfaces on the case and bracelet really set off the elegant appearance. If you catch the watch in person, make sure you turn it over and look at the back–the deep etching in the caseback is world-class. And through the invisible sapphire crystal, you can see the Tudor-esque snowflake hour hand, which is icing on the cake.

There are some drawbacks to the watch. First, the lack of a decent micro-adjustment on the bracelet. You can see how close together the holes are, and that moving the springbar from one to the next is going to result in too slight of a change. I, like most people, was unable to get a really good fit on this watch. Either it was too tight or too loose. After browsing around the forums, I discovered that you can fix this problem yourself and that’s what I did.

Here’s how:

Call up Longines customer service and ask to order a half-link for the Longines Conquest (not Hydro) bracelet. The part number is L688126356. They will likely ask you for information on the back of the watch, like the serial and bracelet number, to verify that you own a Longines. You must specify the part number because they do not make a half link for the Hydroconquest even though that and the Conquest basically use the same bracelet (only difference is the clasp–Hydro uses foldover and Conquest uses buttefly). I bought the half link for about $20 including shipping. Worth every penny because now I have a great fit on the bracelet.

The second complaint I have is the noisy bracelet clasp. When I take the watch off, it’s rattles loudly and sounds a little cheap. When I applaud, it’s like a tambourine on my wrist. It bothers me a lot less than it used to.

The last drawback is really the lume. It’s just not good, but lume was never part of the purchase criteria.

Of my three choices, did I pick the right watch? Yeah, this was the right purchase. While I’m glad I didn’t buy the TAG (I never liked anyone that wore the brand, anyway), I think I still want to get the Oris in addition to the Longines, though.