Longines Heritage Military 1938

Longines Heritage Military 1938

The image above is not a Longines Heritage Military 1938. It’s the original watch. You can see why someone would want one – the dial is as clean, uncluttered and as elegant as an Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39. You can also understand why someone wouldn’t want one. Eighty-one years later, reliability, accuracy, parts and service are a thing. Now, here’s a pic of the Longines Heritage Military 1938 “re-issue” . . .

Longines Heritage Military 1938 re-issue

The new watch’s dial and case are identical to the old watch’s dial and case, except for a few crucial details. The new 1938 has zero signs of age. Its Arabic numerals are painted (as opposed to printed) and coated with imperfectly applied Super-LumiNova (as opposed to imperfectly applied toxic radium). Most importantly, the Longines Heritage Military 1938 is HUGE compared to its 32mm to 36mm forebearers.

Longines Heritage Military 38mm automatic

I’ve yet to see a Longines Heritage Military 1938 wrist shot, but I guaran-damn-tee you nobody’s going to mistake the 41mm new watch for its World War Two-era inspiration – not like they did with the previous 38.5mm Heritage Military timepiece (above). A watch that tricked the uninitiated with fake pitting on the dial.

Is the new old-style Longines Heritage Military 1938 a bridge too far? I mean, a watch too big? At least it isn’t too thick – unlike the non-period-correct automatic Heritage Military watch above. Like the original, the new old-style 1938 is powered by a [thinner] handwound movement. Its Longines caliber 507.2 is based on the ETA/Unitas 6498/2, a modified pocket watch movement born just after World War II.

Longine Heritage Military re-do

Close enough for rock and roll? That’s central question surrounding the 1938. Do you want a watch that looks exactly like a vintage watch only blemish-free, bigger, shinier, more reliable and accurate (-5 to +10 seconds/day) and waterproof to 30m, with a two-year warranty against defects? Sure you do! Do you want to pay $2,450 for it? Uh . . . maybe?

I reckon the answer has nothing to do with historical homage. The 1938 must stand on its own merits. While the new old Longine is a handsome beast that no doubt appeals to minimalist watch wearers, it’s a fake. Like Laco’s “antique look” German pilot’s watches, the 1938 pretends to be something it was, but isn’t. Nice watch. Pass.

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