Why this watch is Important
Regular visitors to this site will know that even though VGWL specialises in watches, which in the main, are over 50 years old, we still pay a great deal of attention to the accuracy of each of the watches we list here and offer for sale. So much so, we do our best to ensure each watch is calibrated to keep time to within 10 secs per 24hrs following its restoration. We also include our final test figure in each listing. We then guarantee all of our watches will remain accurate to within 30 secs in 24hrs while under our 12 months’ warranty, unless otherwise stated. This, along with our Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee, are just two of our ‘points of difference’, which as far as we know, no other comparable vintage watch dealer offers.
Of course, some watches are more accurate than others and when Longines released its new Ultra-Chron in 1967, it was advertised as “The most accurate watch in the world.” – Guaranteed to keep time to within 1 minute per month, or 2 secs per day! Longines timed the release date of this watch very well, to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the founding of the company in 1867.
Hi-Beat watches are designed for greater accuracy, because if all other things remain equal, the faster the escapement, or heartbeat of a watch, the greater its accuracy. Very simply, this is because time is divided into smaller fractions of a second in faster running watches. Zenith, Girard-Perregaux and Longines were the first of the Swiss manufacturers to bring Hi-Beat watches to the market, with Girard-Perregaux being the very first in 1965 with its HF automatic – an example of which we listed and sold here recently. Hi-Beat movements beat at 36,000 beats per hour, which is twice as fast as a standard watch movement. Hi-Beat movements are also known as 10-Beat because they beat at 10 beats per second. This is very fast indeed and even today, only very few premium watches run at this speed. This is because not only do they need very precise design and manufacturing techniques, but they require a great deal more power and special lubricants to run. If we were to bring in vintage cars as an analogy, these Hi-Beat movements are the F1 movements of their day!
The Longines Ultra-Chron range was a great success for Longines and many different models were produced throughout its 9 years of production. These included many sports and even dive watches. Longines overcame the technical challenges well, but, we might suggest, it quite uncharacteristically lost its way a little aesthetically, along with one or two others during the 1970s, particularly so with its Ultra-Chron range. The company knew, of course, it had to face a totally new challenge which was a serious threat to its life. The advent of quartz watches and the revolution which followed saw all but the very strongest Swiss watch brands taken over, or out of business. So the Ultra-Chron was conceived, designed and marketed to meet this challenge and demonstrate just how accurate a mechanical watch could be. To differentiate and emphasise the technical advance this watch represented, almost each and every model was given a ’70s ‘futuristic’ look. This meant some quite brash and even outlandish styles which we struggle to have any affection for, even though they carry ‘the world’s most accurate automatic movement’ of the time.
However, there is one, rare model known for obvious reasons as the Ultra-Chron ‘Cushion’, which still retains all the charm, looks and feel of the traditional Longines gold dress watch. Happily and thankfully this is such a beautifully designed and well-crafted watch, we can almost forgive all the rest of the range. This example, in 18ct yellow gold, is in truly outstanding condition. It measures 34mm across, excluding the Longines signed crown, and 38mm top to bottom. This is a larger size watch than this sounds, especially when one considers the 42mm diagonal dimensions. The multiple curves of the case design are simply sublime. Almost organic, face to face it is a work of art, in the same way a beautiful car can be. This is a two-piece design, but from every angle, it looks like it was hewn from a single solid piece. The gently angled case-back helps it to sit very flat on the wrist.
The case carries the external Longines case number 15794028 and on the inside, all is as expected and signed ‘Longines’, ‘Swiss Made’ with the Longines brand, Geneva Swiss 18ct hallmarks and the Longines model number 8420. The case has been carefully inspected and it is faultless with no dings, scratches or other signs of wear visible to the naked eye. The case-back is of full thickness and has never been engraved.
As ever, our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
The classic Silver starburst dial carries gilt baton hour indices matched with the original ‘stick’ hands. The dial has all the refinements and style of a classic Longines dial, which is nicely conservative, playing down the highly advanced movement within, save for the Ultra-Chron ‘high frequency’ branding which all Ultra-Chron models carry in the lower half of the dial. Thankfully, here it is not too large and does not look too out of place. At the top, all is as per normal with ‘Longines. and the ’Winged Hourglass’ and ‘Automatic’.
The dial also carries a date window which is neatly slipped into the bottom right-hand corner of the dial. This rather adds to the sophistication and style of the watch, particularly in the way it instantaneously changes at midnight. The centre seconds hand also seems to glide around the dial due to the high frequency of the movement. This is a giveaway of all 10-Beat movements.
This is the original dial which has been restored to the highest standards by the best dial restorers in the UK.
The Longines Ultra-Chron Cal.431, Hi-Beat movement lives in the most rarified atmosphere of some of the highest performing watches ever made. For Longines to release this watch in 1967, bill it as the world’s most accurate watch, and guarantee it to be accurate to within a minute a month, was an extraordinary claim for a series produced mechanical wristwatch. The challenges are significant even today to design and build such a watch, since a great deal of power has to be stored by the mainspring which puts a great deal of strain on the drive train of the movement. In addition, the faster moving component parts cannot be lubricated in the normal way, simply because the oils are quickly dispersed by the faster moving parts. The teeth, in particular, risk increased wear and friction, reducing performance. Longines mitigated this problem by coating the escape wheel teeth with a new dry lubricant which they named ‘molybdenum bi-sulphide’.
Without any doubt, the Longines Calibre 431 movement and other Hi-Beat movements of this era represent the very pinnacle of horological achievements. Huge resources, investment and R&D were brought into play to produce these movements. Likewise by Girard-Perregaux to produce its HF automatic and Zenith’s Hi-Beat, which of course led in 1969 to its amazingly advanced Zenith El-Primero, 10 beat automatic chronograph. It is interesting to contemplate that without the looming threats from electronic and quartz watches, these amazing Hi-Beat movements might never have left the drawing board?
The movement here, as can be seen in the photographs, is as clean, bright and sparkling as you will ever see. It has been expertly serviced by our vintage Longines specialist watchmaker. This involves fully dismantling the watch, three-stage ultrasonic cleaning, careful examination under high magnification of all the critical components and surfaces, replacement where necessary only with genuine Longines parts, then careful reassembly, calibration and final testing. Following restoration and immediately prior to listing, this movement was showing the best performance we have yet seen, even for a Longines Ultra-Chron – at zero error rate and completely flat on our electronic time-grapher, only occasionally slipping into +1s/day and equally occasionally into -1s/day. This is the best yet! We therefore have no hesitation in offering this watch with our 12 months’ warranty*
The movement is signed ‘Longines Watch Co Swiss’ ‘Adjusted to 4 positions and temperature’ and carries the movement serial number 50613403 which dates this watch to 1972.
*Please note – Our 12 months’ warranty is only applicable provided the list price is paid.
The Strap and Buckle
The strap fitted is a new Chestnut Brown Crocodile strap with a Longines gold plated buckle. If a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown and black in stock and in plain padded leather, or crocodile skin or lizard skin.
The Box and Papers
Although there are no original papers with this watch, the numbers and markings on the watch are all correct, dating the watch to 1972. A detailed written receipt with 12 months’ warranty* and a separate insurance valuation for the replacement value will be provided at the time of sale, along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If at any time, this watch proves to be anything less than totally authentic, or not as described, Vintage Gold Watches of London will offer you a full refund at any time”.
The high quality hardwood presentation case shown in the photographs is included in the sale.
Here we have a very special and absolutely beautiful Hi-Beat automatic vintage watch from one of the most collectable, highly regarded and time honoured vintage watch brands and this watch will make an excellent financial investment as well as be something to treasure and enjoy! It is completely practical for use as an everyday watch and as long as it is well looked after and serviced every 2-3 years, it will last another lifetime. It carries a great deal more style, individuality and panache than a new watch and to buy the same quality today, would cost at least three or four times the price here.
However, you may wish to view this, as each year goes by and the world market for fine vintage gold watches grows even larger, the limited supply and high demand means prices will inevitably climb even higher!
A word on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before then restoring them to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are highly successful charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be good value and very fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.
We are happy to accept payment via PayPal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you would like to pay by UK cheque or by bank transfer, we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% saving to you.
If you have any questions please call on Landline 0207 727 7095 or Mobile 07515 949250 or if calling from overseas on Landline +44 207 727 7095 or Mobile +44 7515 949250
Please note we welcome part exchanges.
Please take a look at our other vintage gold watches.