Longines had quite an impressive Baselworld 2018 with new releases like the Heritage Skin Diver and a new black PVD version of its ever-popular Legend Diver watch. Alongside these new watches, Longines also unveiled its first ever annual calendar watch in the form of the new Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar watch. The Master Collection houses some of Longines’ most classic and complicated watches, so it should be no surprise that the Master Collection Annual Calendar is somewhat understated in its aesthetics. It comes in a 40mm wide stainless steel case with short and curved lugs. The entire case is polished for a dressier look. The crown at 3 o’clock has no crown protectors, so it is easy to reach and operate. Water resistance is only 30m, which isn’t ideal but is appropriate for a watch of its type.
All images by Ariel Adams
The Master Collection Annual Calendar comes in four variants. You can get it with a black stamped ‘barleycorn’ dial with Roman numerals or a blue dial with a sunray finish with 12 stick hour indices. There are also two silver options, both with stamped ‘barleycorn’ finishes but one with large Arabic numerals and the other has diamond hour indices. The model that we got to handle is the silver dial version with Arabic numerals and it comes with a brown alligator leather strap with a triple-folding clasp.
Because of the large Arabic hour numerals in black, this version is arguably the most striking. The use of large black Arabic hour numerals also means that the watch is very easy to read. This is aided by the elegant blued steel hour, minute, and seconds hands, which provide a brilliant contrast to the silver dial with ‘barleycorn’ decoration. The watch also has a wide chapter ring around the dial featuring a minute track that has every fifth minute marked, the Longines logo at 12 o’clock, and a simple line of text that reads ‘Annual Calendar’ at 6 o’clock.
L2.8126.96.36.199/4) uses a 41-mm brushed steel instance, sitting prominently on the wrist and comprising two big pump pushers — all together giving it an extremely solid and durable look. Through each facet of the piece there are obvious nods to some military fashion from the age, with a transparent focus of form following function from the utilitarian design. On its black dial, the watch includes simple yet distinctive features throughout, with its fundamental black-white design and added green SuperLuminova hints running throughout the large Arabic numerals and hands, as well as its three sub-dials for running seconds at 9 o’clock, a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, and a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock. As you might expect from the name, what makes these features truly distinctive is your “BigEye” 30-minute subdial, but also the style of hands used during like the sword design to get the hour and second hands, the counterbalance on the chronograph seconds hand, and the unique design for the 3 and 6 o’clock subdials.The final major feature on the face is observed in the vintage-style Longines logo, with the watch having a little “automatic” text under into account for the contemporary movement when compared with the historical hand-wound. The motion here is your automatic Caliber L688.2, that will be predicated on the ETA A08.L01. It is effective at a 54-hour power reserve and concealed behind a particularly engraved solid caseback. The brand new BigEye is currently priced by the brand at $2,625, and — probably because of demand — is not often found for much less at traders.
At 3 o’clock, you have two apertures for the month and date. Unlike some other annual calendar watches, there’s no day indication. For those not familiar with the annual calendar, it is a complication invented by Patek Philippe in 1996 and it enables the watch to differentiate between months with 30 and 31 days and automatically compensate for it. This means watch owners need not adjust the watches for months with 30 days. However, it still requires user intervention when transitioning from February to March, hence the name annual calendar – it requires the user to adjust the calendar just once every year.
The annual calendar indications on this watch are very understated, and I would not be surprised if most onlookers mistaken it for a simple day and date complication. My only gripe is that in placing the annual calendar indications at 3 o’clock, the ‘3’ for the hour marker is slightly cut at the edges. The black dial version with Roman numerals suffers from this too. Because of this, I find myself gravitating towards the model with a blue sunray finish dial and stick indices because a cutoff stick hour index at 3 o’clock doesn’t bother me as much.
The movement within is the new Longines Caliber L897.2, which, if I’m not mistaken, is a heavily modified version of the ETA 2892 with an added annual calendar complication module. This movement beats at 25,200 bph and has a power reserve of 64 hours. The movement is visible through the watch’s sapphire display caseback and it is quite nicely decorated for its price with a partially skeletonized rotor, Côtes de Genève, blued screws, and extensive perlage on the bridges.
The Master Collection Annual Calendar is a great example of an understated complicated watch. On the surface, it looks just like any other dressy watch with a day-date complication, but look closer still and you’ll find that that the two apertures where one would normally expect to find the day-date indications are actually for something a lot more complicated – an annual calendar. Certainly, then, the Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar is a very practical dress-style watch and is attractively priced for a watch with an annual calendar complication. The only question is whether or not you like the way it looks. Pricing for the Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar starts at €1,940. longines.com