At this very moment, we await the imminent arrival of AI and a new reality where space travel is accessible to the average person. It may seem like we are, to borrow from Samuel Beckett, merely “waiting for Godot”, but a person waiting for an overseas visitor in the early 20th century might well have felt the same way. This dilemma is compounded by the fact that it is difficult to imagine a world without the Internet and computers, a world where distance truly kept people and ideas apart. This year, we are reminded by our cover watch that it has only been 90 years since we managed to cross from New York to Paris, non-stop!
This particular flight took more than 30 hours in all and you can read more about it in our cover story. For now, the cover reminds us of a different time, no pun intended, when the wristwatch played a key role as a navigational instrument. In this era, Longines had a starring role, with some of the best chronographs in the world and a longstanding relationship with the world of aviation. The Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935 is a new version of another piece we covered a few years back (in 2012). The angled dial and the monopusher at one o’clock – or 12 o’clock depending on your perspective – make this piece unmistakable.
Briefly, the Arabic numerals, the hands and the honey-coloured accents set this apart from the other Avigation model and it is important to note that these are all based on an actual pilot’s wristwatch made by the brand in 1935, hence the name. The original watch was a monster at 51mm and the 2012 version was only a little smaller at 49mm; Longines has gone with a far more sensible and accessible size for this latest edition, at 41mm.
Designed specifically for the US Army air corps (the USAF was only formed in 1947), the watch was meant to be worn on the inside of the wrist, with a dial angled in such a way (at 40 degrees) that it could be used by a pilot without him needing to take his hands off the yoke (that’s what the old steering devices were called). Indeed, the oversized fluted crown was designed to be used by someone wearing gloves. Watches meeting these criteria – and other performance related ones – were given the Type A7 designation by the US Army.
Beneath the dial, we find the beating heart of the watch, the self-winding calibre L788.2, a column-wheel chronograph movement produced exclusively for Longines by ETA, with a power reserve of 54 hours. Like the 2012 version, this one integrates all the controls into the crown, with the pusher for the date at 7 o’clock. As mentioned, this is a monopusher chronograph, so the start, stop and reset functions are all controlled by the pusher atop the crown.
This article appears in WOW’s Spring 2017 issue.