In a follow-up to its enduringly popular Heritage 1945 and interesting Heritage Military watches, released in 2017 and 2018, respectively, Longines this fall has opted to release another retro-look timepiece evocative of the 1930s and ’40s. The new Heritage Classic “Sector Dial” is a modern reissue of a 1934 “Calatrava”-style sector-dial model currently residing in Longines’ museum (pictured below, vintage model left, modern model right).
These “Calatrava” models— which historically is a complicated designation based on Patek Phillipe’s cross logo but colloquially has come to describe any small 1930s-1940s dress watch— featured common designs of their era and have come to symbolize some of the most cherished qualities of all vintage watches among enthusiasts. These qualities notably include the compact sizes around 32 mm; the straightforward, balanced design, and their impressive longevity, some being almost 90 years old and still ticking. The contemporary re-issue we see today is missing both the age and size, but nonetheless seems to have already struck a chord among watch writers and enthusiasts alike.
At 38.5 mm, the new brushed steel model uses a simple case shape, with slim lugs, a sturdy, textured crown, and comes on either a black or blue leather strap with an additional NATO-style alternative bracelet. The dial of the watch is clearly the star of the design, with a white outer section and a silver minute ring within, showcasing the printed, horizontal Arabic numerals and dark areas that divide the face. Further within is the white inner section, with a black crosshair and vintage Longines logo toward the 12 o’clock position. At the bottom of the dial is an engine-turned seconds subdial, complete with a small blued steel hand, and determining the hour and minute are two blued-steel stick hands also constructed in the vintage style.
Within this modern timepiece is the Longines Caliber 893, based upon the ETA A31.501; it’s an automatic movement beating at an unconventional 25,200 vph and maintaining a relatively long 64-hour power reserve. This brand new release will be available through dealers and Longines boutiques later this fall, and will be priced at $2,150.
The exact details on the dimensions of the vintage model outside of a picture are scant, but this historical model likely measured around 32 mm in diameter. In comparison, the modern 38.5-mm steel piece is significantly larger, but at this size offers a happy contemporary medium for ardent vintage-watch enthusiasts and modernly interested consumers alike. The bezel seems more steeped rather than the flat outline seen on the vintage model, and the lugs are clearly thinner. Furthermore, the crown is of a sturdier construction, while the automatic movement it controls inside certainly differs from the manually wound movements universally found in watches from the prewar era. The features on the dial are very similar, with the modern edition seemingly taking each of the vintage details a step further using its modern capabilities: a more noticeable contrast between the sectors, brighter blues and darker blacks, and most notably, a silver-colored seconds subdial replacing the vintage model’s white one.
As other writers have already commented on this watch, the new “Sector Dial” is rare effort by the brand to appeal directly to watch enthusiasts geared towards the vintage market. This doesn’t mean, of course, that Longines’s Heritage collection hasn’t already been successful, only that this watch is one of the rare examples in which the brand has taken a vintage design and done little more to alter it than to boost its size and upgrade its finishing.
This is not the first time we’ve covered the Longines Heritage collection in the “Vintage Eye” series; other members we’ve examined include the Heritage Skin Diver, Avigation BigEye, and Legend Diver, among many others. It is also unlikely that this is the last time we’ll cover either. This new watch demonstrates the continued popularity of the vintage-inspired trend, and likely indicates that Longines, a brand that was well ahead of this trend, is continuing its commitment to developing historically relevant models.
In our last edition of “Vintage Eye,” we compared the modern Breitling Navitimer Automatic 41 to the vintage editions that inspired it, and discuss what this new watch means for the modern Navitimer series. You can check that article out, here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.