Citizens’ Caliber 0100 is the world’s most accurate watch (that doesn’t sync to an external source). We’re talking about a timepiece boasting +/- one second per year accuracy. We’re also talking thousands of dollars and zero availability. If accuracy’s your jam and money’s too tight to mention, check out the Longines Conquest V.H.P. . . .
Introduced in 1984, the original Conquest V.H.P. (Very High Precision) astounded horologists with +/- 10 seconds per year accuracy. At Baselworld 2017, Longines reacted to the ongoing Smart Watch Crisis by unveiling the second gen Conquest V.H.P. The new model improved accuracy variation to an astounding +/- 5 seconds per year.
Developed in conjunction with SWATCH stablemate ETA, Longines’ thermo-compensated caliber L289 is insane. It destroys the average quartz watch’s +/- 10 seconds per month accuracy. It’s five times more accurate than the Swiss COSC requirement of +/- 0.07 seconds variation per day. But wait! There’s more!
If you knock the Conquest V.H.P. movement too hard, its gear position detection system restores the dislocated hands to their correct position. If one of two sensors detects a disruptive magnetic field, the L289 stops the hands until the danger passes, then returns them to their correct position.
When the Conquest’s four-year battery nears end-of-life, the second hand jumps in two second intervals. To forestall mortality, pull out the Conquest’s crown out for two minutes. The hands gather at 12 as the battery goes into sleep mode. Push the crown back in and the hands return to duty and the date corrects itself. You haven’t lost even .07 of a second. And that’s not the end of it.
Every three days, at 3 am exactly, the L289 movement self-tests. The hands spin like crazy as the Conquest ensures that “the reference time is correct and accurate.” Unless, of course, there’s an impact (large or small). In that case, the movement will schedule a self-test the next morning at 3 am exactly.
I demoed the Conquest V.H.P. by holding it up against my iPhone. The digital readout changes at the precise moment the watch’s second hand hits 12. The idea that the Conquest will keep pace with my Apple phone/watch for a year or more is amazing. The Conquest V.H.P.’s design, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong. With its brushed steel case and polished steel bezel, the Conquest V.H.P. three-hander is a handsome beast. But it’s a buttoned-down timepiece. From its C3-lumed indices and matching hands, to the unassuming Arabic 12 and 6, to the small date window, the Conquest V.H.P. is unadorned – to the point where you’d be forgiven for expecting to see the word “Timex” on its dial.
A circular guilloché dial pattern is the Conquest’s only attempt at style. The subtle engine-turned circles do nothing to lift the quartz-powered Conquest into the realm of the thousand dollar-plus watch. Which is why they’re available from Jomashop, Ebay and Amazon for around $730. (Retail $1350.)
The Conquest V.H.P. is a towering timekeeping achievement. Yes but – in the age of the Smart Watch and Seiko’s solar-powered, GPS-adjusted Astron, the Longines Conquest V.H.P. has been conquered by modern technology. Even so, it remains a ridicuously reliable, hyper-accurate companion for OCD watch nerds. A future collector’s classic? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Model: Longines Conquest V.H.P.
Price: $1350 (available new-in-box for around $750 from Amazon, Jomashop, eBay, etc.)
Case: brushed stainless steel, polished steel bezel
Case Thickness: 13mm
Band Material: Textured rubber
Band width: 20 millimeters
Clasp: stainless steel push-button deployant
Functions: Date, hour, minute, seconds
Movement: Longines L289 thermo-regulated quartz
Water resistance: 50 meters
RATINGS (our of five stars):
Design * * * *
Depends on the light. At certain angles, the black chrome 12 and 6 pop, creating a strikingly modern, macho dial. At most angles, they disappear, leaving something between handsome and bland.
Legibility * * * *
Aside from the too-dark second hand, the Conquest is at-a-glance perfection. Lumed with Super-LumiNova C3, the hands and indices (excluding the 12 and 6) are a veritable night light.
Comfort * * * * *
It’s a thick, heavy thing, but the high quality rubber strap and solid push-button deployant clasp are a joy to have and to hold.
Overall * * * * *
The Conquest V.H.P. is a technical tour-de-force, accurate to +/- five seconds per year, with “smart” shock and magnetic protection and a way-cool sleep mode. It’s a beautiful bling-free watch from a storied watchmaker – a steadfast everday timepiece and a future collectible.