If there’s one thing that Longines has done really well over the last couple of years, it’s successfully walking the tightrope between the past and the present to create thoughtfully designed watches. More specifically, Longines’ most successful releases are those that feel authentically contemporary, without losing touch with the heritage that informed them, and the Longines Spirit Zulu Time collection is a perfect example.
The Longines Spirit collection was first launched two years ago in an effort to bridge the distinctly vintage-inspired heritage collection with the brand’s more modern offerings, e.g. the HydroConquest diving range. Around the time of this launch, I spoke with Matthieu Baumgartner of Longines who stated, “It’s in these very small details that we made the difference between a re-edition of a watch from the past and a brand new collection that is strongly rooted in Longines history.”
Since then, the Spirit collection has grown rapidly beyond the time-only and chronograph offerings that were initially released, now including an extremely compelling version in titanium, as well as the most recent Longines Spirit Zulu Time collection. Consisting of three models, the Longines Spirit Zulu Time collection are travellers timepieces, equipped with GMT functionality to track multiple timezones just in time for a collective return to travelling overseas.
The three different models have been executed with black, blue, and green dials, ensuring there’s something for everyone in the new collection. All three references feature the same substantial 42mm stainless steel cases, which offer a decent presence on the wrist as they measure 13.9mm thick.
It might sound like a lot, but thanks to the lug design that tapers to follow the curve of your wrist, however, the thickness is managed cleverly so as not to feel top-heavy or uncomfortable. With a screw-down crown and solid caseback, the new Longines Spirit Zulu Time watches are guaranteed 100m of water resistance.
Another neat element of case design is found in the coloured ceramic 24-hour bezels, shaped to seamlessly align with the domed sapphire crystal that covers the dial. It’s a small detail, but when viewed from the size, you’re greeted with an uninterrupted curve from bezel edge to bezel edge.
Arriving at the dial, we find a number of quintessential pilot’s watch design cues, from the sword hands to the bold Arabic numeral hour markers, both obviously filled with luminous paint. The surface of all of the dials is matte, making them very easy to read, with the green reference featuring warm gold dial details, whereas the cooler black and navy blue references have dial details in steel.
At 6 o’clock, you’ll find an attractively symmetrical date window, and above this aperture, you’ll see Longines’ five stars — a nod to the 1960s Longines Admiral collection. Just above the date window is the ever-important “CHRONOMETER” text that confirms the timepiece’s superlative accuracy, as well as “ZULU TIME.”
If you’ve got a family member who served in any air forces, you might be familiar with Zulu time as an alternative name for Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±00:00), from which all other timezones are measured. Because Zulu is “Z” in the phonetic alphabet, pilots refer to Zulu time as “zero hours” (UTC±00:00) or GMT, hence why Longines chose the name for this intercontinental collection.
Longines has long been the timepiece of choice for international aviators, with the likes of Charles Lindbergh designing the brand’s famed Hour Angle timepiece in the early 1930s, as well as aviator Phillip Weems who created the Second Setting watch. With more than a century of experience crafting multiple timezone watches, Longines certainly hasn’t missed the mark with the Longines Spirit Zulu Time collection.
The Longines Spirit Zulu Time collection houses the automatic calibre L844.4, ticking away at 25,200vph and serving up a long-haul 72 hours of power reserve. Not only does it deliver the time, date and a second timezone, but each movement is independently certified to chronometer specifications by the COSC, ensuring a maximum accuracy deviation of -4/+6 seconds per day.
No matter if you prefer your timepieces on straps or bracelets, Longines has you covered with the new Longines Spirit Zulu Time collection. All three watches arrive with the option of a colour-matched leather strap or a stainless steel bracelet, secured with folding clasps and are easy to swap out thanks to Longines’ interchangeable system.
Whichever angle you look from, there’s a lot to enjoy about the Longines Spirit Zulu Time collection, from the rich heritage-inspired design cues to the top of the line Swiss movement inside. There’s something refreshing about a modern watch that isn’t trying to be a 1:1 vintage copy, and the design of the Zulu Time collection feels contemporary without ignoring the depth of Longines archives.
The Longines Spirit Zulu Time collection is currently available with the versions on leather straps retailing for $4,400, while the references on steel bracelets are just slightly more at $4,550.