Longines Ultra-Chron Cal.431 Automatic 18ct Pink Gold 1968

£3,600

100% Genuine & All Original

Fully Restored, Serviced & Guaranteed

A Beautifully Well Cared For & Lightly Used Example

Oversize 37mm Pink Gold Case, Excluding the Longines Crown

A Stunning Retro-Modern Dial with Pink Gilt Cubic Hour Indices

Super Accurate, Cal.431 Ultra-Chron Hi-Beat Automatic Movement

New Burgundy Crocodile Strap & Longines Gold Plated Buckle

All in Absolutely Top Grade & Simply Stunning Condition

High Quality Hardwood Presentation Box Included

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty*

Free UK Special Delivery

Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery

VGW Reference: L737
Sold 10th July '19
Price

£3,600

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Longines is one of the very 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, however, it has been treated as something of a Cinderella among the watch collecting fraternity until relatively recently. Longines is now rightfully returning towards the elevated status it once held in the pre and post 2nd World War period when it ranked among the very best of Swiss watch manufacturers. It is really only within the past three or four years that Longines vintage watches have risen again to the admiration and popularity they deserve, with values rising of by around 15 – 20% per year. On certain models, such as the now legendary Longines Calibre.13ZN chronograph, prices have sky-rocketed!

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 day 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 designed to be 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” and was 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.

Description

Hi-Beat watches are designed for greater accuracy, because all other things remaining 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 movements. Zenith, Girard-Perregaux and Longines were the first of the Swiss manufacturers to bring Hi-Beat watches to the mass market, with Girard-Perregaux releasing the very first in 1965 with its HF automatic – an example of which we listed and sold recently. Hi-Beat movements beat at 36,000 beats per hour, which is twice as fast as a standard watch movement. These are also known as 10-Beat movements because they beat at 10 beats per second. This is very fast as 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 function properly. If we were to bring in vintage cars as an analogy, Hi-Beat movements are the Formula 1 movements of their day! 

The Case

The Longines Ultra-Chron range was a great success for Longines and many different models were released during its 9 years of production. These included numerous sports and even a number of dive watches. Longines overcame the technical challenges of the advanced movement well, but some might suggest in certain instances it uncharacteristically lost its way aesthetically, particularly with its Ultra-Chron range. The company knew, of course, it faced a totally new challenge and a serious threat to its future. The arrival of quartz watches was not far over the horizon and the revolution which followed was a huge challenge to even the strongest Swiss watch brands. Many were taken over or went completely broke during the 1980s and 1990s. The Ultra-Chron was therefore conceived, designed and marketed to meet this challenge and demonstrate just how exceedingly accurate a mechanical watch could be. To differentiate and emphasise the technical advance this range represented, almost every model was provided a futuristic look all of its own. This meant some quite brash and even outlandish styles which were somewhat over the top, even for ‘the world’s most accurate automatic movement’.

Here, however, the design is a little more constrained and the 18ct pink gold case, along with its size, provides some balance to the Ultra-Chron design style. At 37mm, excluding the Longines signed crown, this was an exceptionally large watch for the period which makes this a particularly rare model since most gold Ultra-Chrons were made in yellow gold, and with a typical case size of 34mm or 35mm. 36mm watches are found from time to time, but this is the only Longines Ultra-Chron we have ever seen in a 37mm case.

The Ultra-Chron theme is continued to the rear of the watch, where the waterproof screw-back carries the Ultra-Chron legend. This remains clear and distinct indicating this watch has received very little use.

Inside the case-back we see the case is all correctly signed ‘Longines’ and ‘Swiss Made’ with the Longines brand, along with Swiss Geneva 18ct hallmarks and the Longines model number 7950.

The case has been carefully inspected and very lightly hand-polished. It is immaculate 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 Dial

As discussed above, the style of this watch is futuristic, without being over the top or outlandish, as with some other Ultra-Chron designs which can be a little brash. The dial here is white with a slight silver sheen, which looks a little warmer under indoor lighting. We have tried to demonstrate this in the photographs. Faceted gilt cubic block hour indices are matched with corresponding, slightly blocky ‘Index’ hands.  The dial also carries horizontal and vertical cross-hairs, although the vertical line is somewhat hidden. This also provides the dial with a slightly technical or scientific look. The dial is signed ‘Longines’ and ‘Automatic’ and carries the applied gilt Longines brand.

An applied Ultra-Chron brand and signature are found in the lower half of the dial, along with ‘Swiss Made’ at the very bottom. The dial also carries a date window at three.

This is the original dial which has been restored to the highest standards by the best dial restorers in the UK.

The Movement

The Longines Ultra-Chron Cal.431, Hi-Beat movement lives in that 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. For example, a great deal of power has to be stored and transferred by the mainspring. This, in turn, puts increased 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, are subject to increased wear and friction, reducing performance. Longines mitigated this problem by coating the escape wheel teeth with a new dry lubricant named ‘molybdenum bi-sulphide’.  

So, as can be seen, it is without any doubt, Longines Calibre 431 movement and other Hi-Beat movements of this era represented the very pinnacle of horological achievement in terms of design, engineering and accuracy. Huge resources, investment and R&D were brought into play by Longines 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 and groundbreaking Zenith El-Primero, 10-beat, automatic chronograph. It is interesting to contemplate that without the looming challenge of electronic / 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 and 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 one of the best performances we have yet seen, even for a Longines Ultra-Chron – at zero error rate, and completely flat on our electronic timegrapher, only occasionally slipping into +1s/day and equally occasionally into -1s/day. This is as good as we have seen on a mechanical watch! 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 14997575 which dates this watch to 1968.

*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 burgundy crocodile 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 1968. 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.

In Conclusion

A very special and absolutely stunning Hi-Beat automatic vintage watch from one of the most collectable, highly regarded and time honoured vintage watch brands. This is also a very rare watch due to its 37mm size and pink gold case. This watch will therefore make an excellent financial investment as well as be something to use, 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 also welcome part exchanges.

Please take a look at our other vintage gold watches.

Thank you.