Longines Calibre 13ZN Flyback Chronograph 18ct Pink Gold 1946/47

£13,000

100% Genuine & All Original

Fully Inspected, Serviced & Guaranteed

Original Unrestored Black Dial In Top Condition.

A Very Lightly Used, Well Cared For, Immaculate Example

37.5mm, 18ct Pink Gold Case, Excluding the Longines Crown

Beautiful Black Dial with Original Pink Gilt Hands and Indices

Legendary Longines Calibre 13ZN Flyback Chronograph Movement

New Black Lizard Strap and Longines Pink Gold Plated Buckle

All in Absolutely Top Grade & Simply Stunning Condition

Original Vintage Longines Presentation Box Included

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty*

Free UK Next Day Delivery

Overseas FedEx £45

VGW Reference: L756
Price

£13,000

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Longines

Longines is one of the very oldest Swiss watch manufacturers with an unparalleled history of invention, innovation, patents and awards. It is also responsible for some of the most exquisite watches, and watch movements, ever produced. The very highest accolades are reserved for its achievements in the development, and indeed the invention, of the wristwatch chronograph. Just a brief glance inside a chronograph, from any era, is enough to convince one how great an achievement this was. Released as early as 1913, its Calibre 13.33Z was much more than just a technical breakthrough. Early aviators and sports events, such as ski championships and motor racing Grand Prix, all relied heavily on the most technologically advanced and sophisticated chronographs available at the time, almost all supplied by Longines. Further, in 1919, Longines was appointed the official supplier for the International Aeronautical Federation (IAF) which led the company to be involved in many aeronautical expeditions during the early 20th century. The most famous of them was Charles Lindbergh’s solo, non-stop flight from New York to Paris in his aircraft, “Spirit of St. Louis,” in May 1927.

It is also worth mentioning here that due to the technical challenges and sheer costs involved in development and manufacture, very few watch companies, even today, make their own chronograph movements. The largest producers of these movements for high-end watches throughout most of the 20th century were the relatively unknown brands of Valjoux and Lemania. For example, before 2000, Rolex used Valjoux 72 and Zenith El Primero movements in both its Daytona and Chronographs.

Why This Watch Is Important

One of the truly great “in-house” chronograph movements began its development in the 1920s. First released in 1936, it was so beautifully designed and so elegant and well engineered, it remained in production with changes and upgrades until the early 1970s. This was the now legendary Longines Calibre 13ZN Flyback Chronograph, which is the movement you see here. It was and still is considered better than the best from Patek Phillippe at the time. Longines had earlier determined it would further build its lead in the chronograph market by only focusing on one aspect of ‘complicated’ watches, namely the chronograph. The 13ZN remained the most technologically advanced chronograph movement available for many years after its launch. It was the first wristwatch chronograph movement to be equipped with a ‘Flyback’ mechanism. It was no coincidence that this function was of great use in the field of aviation. This function allows the chronograph to be reset while it is actually running. This allowed a pilot to continuously monitor the time he or she had followed a course, then while changing course, stop, reset, and restart the chronograph with a single click of the lower button, rather than the three clicks on two buttons this would take on a normal chronograph. While this may sound simple, virtually no other manufacturer attempted to produce a flyback mechanism, in a chronograph, until 20 years later with the advent of the Type XX chronographs produced for the French military.

Note: This particular watch is also important for other reasons. Please see ‘Watch Case’.

The Dial

Black dial watches with pink gold watch cases are always, we think, something special. Due to the requirements of the military forces which very often specified back dials for military chronographs, this style became popular amongst the buying public during the post-war period. Here, this two register dial is brimming with 1940s charm and style. All five original unrestored hands are present and in wonderful condition. The ‘Alpha’ style hour and minute hands are complete with their original rose/pink gilt finish.

Large standard Arabic gilt numerals make the dial very legible, even in low light, and around the outside of the dial we see both a Telemetre scale and a Tachymètre scale. The former was designed to measure the distance between an event and an observer, using the speed of sound. In wartime, this was essential for timing the difference between the flash of a large gun emplacement and the arrival, some seconds later, of the sound of it firing. The distance was calculated using the speed of sound, and easily read on a telemetre scale. The Tachymètre scale was simply used for calculation of speed over a measured distance. These give a feeling of the true technical nature of chronographs and the essential tools, indeed computation devices, these once were.

The dial is believed to be original and unrestored, although this is difficult to guarantee. We have canvassed a number of opinions on this, as it is incredibly difficult to be totally sure if and when a dial restoration has been carried out, many years ago. If this is the case, we feel this is as close to an original unrestored dial as one is ever likely to see, certainly in such top condition as this. It is for these reasons we have left the dial completely alone. If however, a customer would prefer a restored dial, we will restore this dial free of charge.

The Watch Case

At 37.5mm excluding the correct Longines crown, this is, we feel, the perfect size for such a watch. The colour of the case has an ‘old gold’ look, almost a dark yellow with a hint of red and is very pleasing on the eye next to the black dial. In 18ct pink/rose gold with military style short lugs, this heavy three-piece case has remained in amazingly good condition. It is in fact absolutely immaculate, with no scratches, dimples, dings or other marks visible to the naked eye. This, along with the condition of the dial and movement lead us to believe this watch may well have spent most of its life in its box. The block script inscription on the case-back remains distinct, which also indicates very little use.

The case-back is fascinating itself. 1947 was, as anyone who has studied the history of the British Empire will know, a very important year – the year of the end of British rule in India. Louis Mountbatten was appointed as the last Viceroy, solely to handle this huge challenge and for anyone interested in learning about this truly fascinating period, the wonderful book, ‘Freedom at Midnight’ is essential reading. This watch was a gift during the final year of British rule in India, from His Highness Prince Muaz Azam Jah of Hyderabad, otherwise known as Prince Azam Jah. Azam Jah, 1907–1970, was the eldest son of the seventh and last Nizam (monarch, king and ruler) of the Princely State of Hyderabad who during the 1940s was the richest man in the world with a fortune worth $2 billion USD, approximately $300 billion adjusted for inflation today. The recipient of this watch, Mr J. Maxwell Esq., was no doubt a high ranking official within the coveted Hyderabad Civil Service which was considered to be an elite service, and one which only the best of the government officers were inducted into, through a competitive examination. Anyone reading this who can throw any further light on a Mr J. Maxwell acting in this role, during this period, will be most welcome to contribute further to this section. He was surely most fortunate to be given such a watch, the most expensive available from Longines and one of the most expensive watches on the market at this time.

The Movement 

The Longines 13ZN has been heralded by collectors and enthusiasts for decades and it is safe to say that it has gained easy entry into the pantheon of definitive timepieces. This was simply the most advanced and sophisticated chronograph movement available at the time. Its design, elegance, dependability and accuracy all contributed towards it remaining in production for almost 40 years. Its ‘Flyback’ function, enabling a chronograph to be stopped, reset, and started with one push of the button, is something so technically challenging, it is only found on the most expensive chronographs even today. The exceptional nature of the 13ZN sometimes surprises people who are more familiar with contemporary offerings from Longines and forget (or never knew) that the brand was a premier manufacture during the 1940s and ’50s, creating in-house movements and complications that some have said rival offerings from Patek Philippe of the same vintage.

As can be seen in the accompanying photographs, the condition of the movement is, in keeping with the rest of this watch, in spectacularly good condition. It has just been overhauled and serviced by our vintage chronograph specialist watchmaker and it now has a silky smooth operation, with all the functions operating exactly as they should. The seconds hand flys back exactly to zero, exactly as it should and the watch movement is keeping excellent time to within +10 seconds/day. This is outstanding for any watch of this age and we are more than confident in offering this watch with our 12 months’ warranty on the movement*.

*Please note – our 12 months’ warranty is only applicable provided the list price is paid.

Please note – as with all wristwatch chronographs, these movements have two distinct functions, i.e. telling the time, and accurately recording short time intervals. However, these are not intended to be run continuously together for long periods of time. This will, in effect, cause the watch to keep less accurate time and will also prematurely wear the chronograph movement. We therefore recommend against leaving the chronograph function running on any chronograph wristwatch.

The movement serial number is 7280250 indicating this movement was manufactured in 1946.

The Strap and Buckle

The strap fitted is a new Black Lizard strap with a Longines pink 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 1946/47. 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 beautiful, original vintage Longines presentation case shown in the photographs is included in this sale.

In Conclusion

We have here a unique and charming example of the legendary vintage Longines Calibre 13ZN chronograph from ‘the worlds most honoured’ vintage watch brand. Prices of the finer examples such as this have doubled in the past four years as the clamour for the few remaining best examples outside of large collections are snapped up.

This watch will undoubtedly make an excellent financial investment as well as be something to treasure and enjoy! It is also completely practical for use as an everyday wristwatch should you so wish and if it continues to be well cared for and serviced every 4 years, it will last another lifetime at least. This watch carries a great deal more style, individuality and panache than a new watch and to buy the same quality today would be very difficult.

However you may wish to view this watch, as each year goes by and the world market grows ever larger, the limited supply and high demand for the finest vintage gold watches means prices will inevitably climb ever 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.

Thank you.