The Longines Master Chronograph Moonphase L2.7184.108.40.206 (often dubbed the “Master Complication”) created an interesting relationship between the moon and me. I’m likely to know the phase of moon more than anyone I know, and I even downloaded a moonphase app in the iTunes store just so I could reference the correct phase when setting the watch. People tend to be perplexed at how I take pride in knowing when the moon is waxing or waning, but I love having an alternative and elegant expression of time on my wrist.
My watch collection had a spot for an incredibly complicated piece. I needed a showoff, something to flex its horological muscle next to the simplicity and elegance of my divers and chronographs. A white dial and brown strap would be ideal, too. Longines not only carries a rich heritage in watchmaking but also a tradition within my family. My father owned two Longines watches and growing up I always held the brand on a pedestal because of that. When I purchased my first luxury watch, I went with a Longines.
I turned to Longines again for the Master Complication. My big concern was value in this watch since a well made piece with this many complications could inflate the price astronomically; at the same time, there were a ton of corners to be cut if a manufacturer wanted to market a lower priced option, leaving me with a flimsy piece that would keep me in perpetual fear of it breaking.
At first glance, the dial may be overwhelming, but take a deep breath and let the details sink in because Longines wisely used the dial’s real estate to provide the customer with a fully-featured watch. Beautiful blue components adorn the dial, from the primary and sub-dial hands to the moonphase indicator, that creates a striking contrast with the white/silver dial. The hands are a blue that never stops giving, as you can hold the watch up to the light at various angles to see a different shade of blue.
Starting from the top, you have a 60-minute chronograph register which also houses the day and month display. Moving clockwise, the Longines logo is painted on the dial in gold. At 6 o’clock is the 12-hour register, inside of which is the blue and gold moonphase indicator. Continuing around the dial, the 9 o’clock sub-dial has two hands, the longer one being the 24-hour time and the shorter one being the regular seconds hand for the watch. The sub-dial has outer and inner indices for each function respectively so you can distinguish their purposes relatively easily.
There are four long hands that stretch from center to bezel: the hour, minute, chronograph, and the date hand. Notice the perimeter of the dial is numbered from 1 to 31 and one hand ends in a half-moon shape that frames the number. The nice thing about this is that, even if you’re used to a regular date window, you’ll adjust quickly to it and the position of the hand itself is revealing about where in the month you are. If the hand is pointing to the top right, you’re in the first quarter. Left side of the dial, the second half of the month. It’s useful information at a very lazy glance that you can’t get with a date window.
And Longines presents all these functions to you on a beautiful silver guilloche dial, protected by a domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
The polished stainless steel case feels maybe a tad large at 42mm given there isn’t much of a bezel, but I appreciate the more contemporary size. There is a 40mm option if you prefer a more modest size. My wrist is 6.75 inches and I love the way it sits on the wrist because it’s bold but classy. The crown is signed with “LONGINES” around the top perimeter with the winged hourglass logo beneath the text. The pushers have a solid feel to them and present you with a satisfying amount of resistance when pressed to start, stop and reset the chronograph. On the left side of the case at about 10 o’clock is the recessed pusher for adjusting the day, and the watch comes with a stainless key to access the pusher. The case feels of “medium” thickness to me. While it’s not built like a tank, it’s nowhere near fragile and after owning the watch for a year I can attest that it holds up well to everyday wear. Sometimes I can feel the rotor swinging on the back of my wrist, although I personally enjoy that sensation.
It’s water resistant up to 30 meters, so keep this out of the shower and swimming pool. You’re probably okay washing your hands and getting caught in the rain, but that’s as far as I would take it.
Turn the watch around to see the pressure-fitted exhibition caseback that reveals the exceptionally decorated caliber L678 movement (based on Valjoux 7751, beating at 28,800 VPH) with a signed and Geneva-striped rotor. Expect to get 48 hours of power reserve out of it when fully wound.
The strap is a dark brown leather with genuine alligator on top. The butterfly deployant clasp is sufficient, polished and finished enough to not scratch or dig in to my wrist. The strap and signed clasp get the job done, but it’s probably the one area of the watch that falls a bit short of my expectations. However, of any aspect of the watch, this was the right corner to cut. And if my actions reveal my true preferences, then I guess it doesn’t bother me that much because I never swapped it and I wear the watch at least once or twice a week.
The Longines Master Chronograph Moonphase retails for $3,200. I recommend it to anyone looking for that technically braggadocios watch from a trusted watchmaking heritage that will attract eyes and give you an excuse to prove your horological heritage.