Longines’ archive is the envy of many watchmaking brands, a rich source of material to furnish the highly popular and ever-expanding Heritage collection. Earlier this year, Longines produced two Heritage Classic Tuxedo models that stole our hearts with their stylish two-tone, black-tie looks. We’ve reviewed the Classic Tuxedo Chronograph, so now we’ll take a closer look at the less complex, but perhaps even more attractive three-hand Classic Tuxedo Small Seconds.
With its 188-year history, Longines will never be short of vintage models to inspire re-editions in its Heritage collection. This year alone we’ve seen the bronze Legend Diver, the Avigation Type A-7 1935 and even the Military Marine Nationale join the Heritage Collection. However, if given a choice, I would choose the Classic Tuxedo Small Seconds without a second thought. Based on a 1945 two-tone model from its archives, the Tuxedo Small Seconds is actually closer in spirit to an Art Deco design.
If you compare the original 1945 model with the current model, you can appreciate how the shape of the case and the design features have been respected. Obviously, the case size has been slightly augmented to 38.5mm to suit contemporary tastes, but the elongated lugs, thin bezel and largish crown (original was manual-winding) are faithful to the original. The drilled holes in the lugs are a thoughtful detail allowing you to pop out the spring-bar to change the strap in a jiffy. To underscore its elegant dress watch function, the entire case gleams with its polished finishing.
However, the winning personality of the watch is expressed on the “tuxedo” dial. From the silver screen to the cocktail lounge, tuxedos are the paradigm of elegant evening wear. The classic black-and-white look composed of a black jacket with satin lapels, black trousers with a satin stripe, a turn-down collar white shirt with a black bowtie and black patent leather shoes, was immortalised by Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Cary Grant and even Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s. And what would James Bond be in a casino without his tux? A spy with no style is the answer.
The Longines Heritage Classic Tuxedo Small Seconds is dressed for the occasion in strict black tie with its thick black chapter ring and contrasting silver opaline central area of the dial. The black ring on the periphery is matte and the large Arabic numerals, so reminiscent of Art Deco numerals, are painted with a vintage shade of beige Super-LumiNova. The same colour lume is used on the simple (rhodium-plated) baton hands.
Longines has made a very sensible decision by not including a date window and by avoiding any reference on the dial to the automatic movement powering this watch. The only other element inside the attractive granular surface of the centre is a small seconds counter with a silver frame and a snailed interior. Just like the original, the small seconds counter gracefully drops into the black chapter ring partially obscuring the number six. Even the font used for the brand name is similar to the one used on the original. To complete the vintage vibe, the dial is protected by a box-shaped sapphire crystal.
A modern automatic engine
The dial might not mention the presence of an automatic movement, but the Tuxedo Small Seconds is powered with a proprietary self-winding movement – a practical consideration for today’s consumers. Calibre L893.5, Longines’ take on the ETA A31.501, runs at a reduced frequency of 25,200vph, has an extended power reserve of 64 hours and is equipped with an anti-magnetic silicon hairspring. The caseback is sealed and decorated with the Longines winged hourglass logo.
This Tuxedo Small Seconds has to be my favourite vintage re-edition of 2020. Its sleek two-tone Art Deco personality, its straightforward face and case, its modern automatic movement and its attractive price ensure that this is the kind of golden oldie you can enjoy without a trace of guilt. I wasn’t thrilled by the somewhat ungainly black leather strap, but since it’s a DIY change, it holds no sway on my opinion.
The Longines Heritage Classic Tuxedo Small Seconds (ref. L2.318.104.22.168) is not a limited edition. It is now available from Longines online boutique and retailers, and is priced at EUR 1,940 (incl. tax).
More information at Longines.