Longines is one of the oldest Swiss watch manufacturers with an unparalleled history of invention, innovation, patents and awards. The company is also responsible for some of the most beautiful watches ever made. Here we have a superb example from 1944, when technically, Longines were competing head to head and beating almost all of the other Swiss watch manufacturers.
Both the British magazine QP and the American WatchTime publication have hailed a long overdue return to classical form and ironically, despite being over half a century old, this piece looks virtually indistinguishable from a number of current models by the major watch houses. This is a Longines Classic vintage gold watch which is both highly collectable and highly wearable. The condition is close to perfect, overall its quality second to none, with a movement the equal of anything that was served up by Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC or any of the other prestigious Swiss houses from the same era, yet still, for the time being, a fine watch which is obtainable for a relatively small amount of money and the kind of watch which never looks dated and commends itself to the investor.
Incidentally, if one asks around, many gold ‘Calatrava’ watches of this type, are returning back on trend! – Not that we would pay any attention to these things of course!
The styling of this model is absolutely classical. If we weren’t able to ascertain its year of manufacture exactly from its movement and case serial number, we could glance at this piece and believe it to be from 1935, 1955 or 2005.
36mm, 18ct rose gold, large, round, ribbed case with short sweeping lugs and a semi-sunken Longines crown; each of these contributes to the distinct ‘Calatrava’ style of this watch. We say ‘rose’ but the colour of the gold used for this case is interesting. It is a very deep, almost dark, rose gold with a hint of bronze, giving the watch more of an antique look than later rose or pink gold cases.
The case is Swiss made by Longines and carries Swiss, Geneva 18ct hallmarks and the serial number 6729085. This watch was made during a time when watch cases and movements were produced for each other, in much smaller numbers than in later decades. This meant Longines were still able to number movements and cases with matching serial numbers. This watch carries the same case and movement number. This is a nice thing to have and something which collectors love to see.
The quality is superb and the construction is as expected – very strong and sturdy. The case-back has never been engraved and is of full thickness. It removes and presses back with a very impressive and solid sound which indicates the case-back and case are still a nice tight, close fit.
The case is immaculate and even under close examination there are no scratches, dings or significant signs of wear visible to the naked eye. This indicates to us the watch has been carefully worn and probably kept for evening wear and special occasions only. We are sure that short of finding an unsold example that has languished in the back of a jeweller’s safe for half a century, a better preserved gold watch from this era could not be obtained.
Please note – our standard advice applies: Vintage Watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
Regular visitors to this site are probably aware that we are huge admirers of vintage Longines watches, not only for the perfection of their movements or even the construction and sheer quality of their cases, but also the design and effortless style and elegance of their watch dials. If a dial defines the style and character of a watch, Longines has always gone to great efforts to produce some of the best classical and model specific dials. Of course, in the 40’s 50s’ and ‘60s, in addition to some of the best dial designers, Longines had the benefit of a huge back catalogue and experience in dial design. This must have always been of great benefit, but it is the way that something of the company’s DNA is evident, in addition to the brilliance and quality of the design which impresses us most.
The dial here is also an interesting colour, not gold and not bronze, but something midway between the two with the hands too, an interesting dark bronze gold.
The ‘Leaf’ and small seconds hands are original and perfect. The oversize numerals and stud hour indices are a nod towards art deco and with the big sub seconds dial, the overall style is exquisitely classical, timeless and simply plain gorgeous!
This is the original dial which we have not touched or restored, but which we believe has been previously restored to a very high standard.
The watch carries its original Longines’ Cal.23M, hand-wound movement with subsidiary seconds dial and bags of old world charm! Technically this is one of the classic, manually wound movements of its day, with 17 jewels, a large balance wheel running rate of 18,000 half beats per hour and a power reserve of 40 hours. It has every contemporary refinement, it is antimagnetic, and also has a bimetallic balance and shock protection, which was a recent introduction in the 1940s.
Introduced in 1939, this was a revised version of calibre 23 which in turn, was derived from the calibre 10.68Z movement that had made its debut in 1932. The 23 had been a superb movement, but Longines engineers realised that they could reduce its diameter by 1mm without affecting its remarkable performance characteristics. Additionally, the winding mechanism of the 23.M was hidden from the damaging effects of perspiration, which was particularly important as Longines sought to take advantage of the lucrative market for luxury watches in hot and humid former British colonies.
If a decent dial defines a vintage wristwatch, then it is the hand-built movements inside them at its heart, which creates such interest in the first instance. These mechanisms were built long before the advent of CNC machines and computer controlled polishing lines. While machinery was obviously used in movement manufacture, it was of a very traditional nature and controlled by specific individual craftsmen, exactly as it had been since the 19th Century. Every component in a movement like this one was visually inspected by a specific individual, finished until it met with his satisfaction and then passed on to be gradually built up into a complete unit that was sent for the laborious process of regulation, again by hand. The quality present in these classic watches by manufacturers such as Longines is breathtaking and more than justifies their high prices when new and the prices that good vintage examples by all the important houses command.
What is immediately noticeable about this movement is its pristine appearance. There are absolutely no signs of tarnishing and the movement is as fresh today as the day it was created. The condition is nothing less than spectacular and most importantly, this movement is complete with all Longines parts. Everything is original and as it should be and there is no evidence of any significant repair work having ever been performed.
Returning to the quality of finishing and build, it is exceptional. It is fair to claim here that this is a better-finished movement than anything offered by Rolex at the same time. It also has a sophistication which is lacking from both Omega and Rolex movements of the same period. Unlike its two famous competitors, which simply fitted their jewels into drilled holes in the bridges, Longines adopted the system of screwed chatons, by which every jewel is held in its own threaded brass sleeve, which is then in turn screwed into the plates. This is a lovely refinement that one hardly ever sees and must have added significantly to the cost of production when new. The fact that vintage Longines watches are still so affordable today is hugely fortunate when we actually look at them closely and see how beautifully built they are.
The movement is simply signed “Longines” with the matching serial number of the case. Also, underneath the balance is the calibre number 23M. All this detail has been painstakingly filled in with 18 carat gold in order to increase its legibility against its steel background. These points, though minor in themselves, aggregate into something that is a cut above the production of almost all the competing Swiss brands at the time.
The serial number 6.729.085 is clearly stated. Falling right at the beginning of 1944, the fortunate first owner was perhaps living in a corner of Europe unaffected by the ravages of World War Two, or further afield. He was also likely to have been very wealthy as an 18ct Longines of this size in 1944, would have been very expensive.
Having been serviced on a regular basis, the watch works perfectly and runs extremely smoothly. Provided it is treated with care and sent for routine cleaning and lubrication every three years or so, it will last almost forever and have no difficulty at all in giving excellent service for many decades to come. The movement is in absolutely tip-top condition following a thorough overhaul and service by our vintage Longines specialist watchmaker. This means the movement has been completely disassembled, cleaned, inspected and rebuilt using only original Longines parts where required, then carefully calibrated and tested. Upon return, this watch is now running to within +12 seconds per day! This is absolutely outstanding for any vintage watch of this age! When fully wound, this movement has a 40 hour power reserve.
This movement is strong, and very reliable, making it completely practical and appropriate for regular use, perhaps as a dress watch or even for everyday use. Our watchmaker has indicated this particular movement is in top condition and with regular servicing every 3 or so years, we would fully expect this watch to run very happily for many more decades to come! We are therefore very pleased to offer a 12 month warranty on this watch movement* and services in the future, as required.
Needless to say, we like this watch. We would therefore be very surprised if anyone buying it would be nothing short of delighted. We cannot recommend it wholeheartedly enough to anyone wishing to buy at the top of the quality spectrum without spending an awful lot of money.
*Please note our 12 months warranty is only applicable if the full list price is paid.
The Strap & Buckle
A new high quality Lizard skin leather strap is fitted, along with a plain rose gold plated buckle. Please note 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 in plain padded leather, crocodile skin or lizard skin. We can also obtain most types and colours at short notice.
The Box and Papers
Although there are no original papers with this watch, all the numbers and markings on the watch are correct, dating the watch to 1944. A detailed ‘Particulars’ document will be included with the sale, along with our detailed receipt and 12 months Warranty*. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will also 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 hardwood presentation box seen in the photographs will be included with this watch.
We have always been great admirers of vintage Longines and for many years they have been severely undervalued. This has begun to correct itself of late as there is no good reason for this, as these watches technically surpass almost all the other high-end brands. Whatever the reason, they still represent excellent value, even though prices have been increasing by around 20% per annum during the past few years.
The watch here is a superb example of a most beautiful and sought after vintage Longines. A rare, usable and highly collectable vintage gold gentleman’s dress watch from one of horology’s most highly respected names, which is a thing of beauty, to use, wear, treasure and enjoy!
This watch will also make an excellent investment and family heirloom piece. Even though vintage Longines prices are still catching up with, for example, Omega, JLC and Rolex, we are sure fine examples such as this are still undervalued. As each year goes by and the world market for vintage gold watches continues to expand, availability will become more limited, meaning prices are surely destined to climb ever higher!
A word about our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring these 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 inevitably means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are a number of well known stores in West London which are very successful, charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.
We are happy to accept Paypal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you wish to pay by bank transfer, we will be pleased to pass on a 3% transaction saving to you. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or International Bank Wire Transfer, we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.
Please note we welcome part exchanges and if you have a watch or small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss this.
We will be happy to Service, Repair or Restore your watch all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.
If you have any questions, please call our landline 020 7727 7095 or mobile 07515 949 250. If calling from overseas our landline number is +44 207 727 7095 or mobile +44 7515 949 250.
We will be happy to answer any questions and offer advice about this or any of our watches listed for sale. If you would like some general advice regarding any aspect of vintage watches, including buying, selling, or collecting, we will be delighted to hear from you.
We await your call!
Finally, please enjoy some time spent viewing our other fine Vintage Gold Watches!