The story Longines Avigation BigEye Titanium begins in the 1930s. At some point in that decade, the original BigEye was made, but nobody knows exactly when or for what purpose. Its existence only came to light recently, when a collector contacted Longines for information on a 1930s Longines watch. Lo and behold, Longines had no record of the watch, which means it was probably a one-off prototype. But it caught the eye of their watchmakers, who soon decided to issue a re-release.
In 2017, Longines debuted the Avigation BigEye, which was crafted to look just like the original. This included a sleek, matte black dial and a sturdy stainless steel case. This year’s Avigation BigEye Titanium Ref. L2.8126.96.36.199 is a modified version, with the same shape and function, but different coloration and materials. Here are my thoughts on this new retro watch.
A Modern Titanium Case
The Longines Avigation BigEye Titanium has a 41mm diameter that presents a medium wrist presence. It’s perfectly round, with a fat, knurled crown at 3 o’clock, and a pair of smaller pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock. The pushers have a narrow, retro design, and there’s an embossed Longines imprint on the top of the crown.
The case back has a screw-down design, which makes the watch easy to service. At the top, there’s a narrow bezel, another classic touch that also provides more space for a big, broad dial. The crystal is significantly raised, with curved edges that protrude markedly over the bezel. This is another beautiful, classic touch, and it distorts the dial slightly when viewed at an angle. When viewed head-on, there’s no distortion whatsoever.
In all of these respects, the Avigation BigEye Titanium is identical to the original BigEye. However, there’s one important difference, and that’s the material. Because it’s made of grade 5 titanium, this case is much lighter weight than the original. This makes it feel like a smaller watch than it actually is. In addition, titanium is more durable than steel, and has a slightly bluer shine than a straightforward silver-colored stainless. The only real downside is if you were looking a more faithful replica to the original watch. Then again, if that’s what you want, you can always just buy the stainless steel version.
A Beautiful Blue Dial
Another notable difference from the classic BigEye is the dial. The original dial was black, as is the dial on the stainless steel reissue, but the color wasn’t the only difference. The standard dial also has a matte finish, with no texture to speak of. The BigEye Titanium, on the other hand, has a bright petrol blue dial, with a textured finish that catches the light when illuminated at an angle. It also fades to black near the edges, further drawing attention to the center of the dial.
The index consists of fine silver hashes at the individual minute marks, and silver squares at the five minute positions. The large Arabic numerals at the hour marks are a vintage orange-gold, as is the striping down the centers of the broadsword-shaped titanium hour and minute hands. This color evokes the look of old-school radium stripes. In fact, this is a modern lume paint, and the outer index isn’t illuminated. The same is true for the titanium second hand, which is a simple slender metal rod.
The words “Longines Automatic” appear in white at the top of the dial, just below the 12 o’clock marker. But the main attraction is the three subdials, which are a signature part of many Longines watches. There’s a 30-minute subdial to the right, a 60-second subdial to the left, and a long-running 12-hour subdial at the 6 o’clock position. All of these are black, with concentric indented rings like the grooves on a record. The subdial numerals and hashes are all painted in white, for a clean, high-contrast appearance. That said, the subdial hands are black. It’s a sleek look, but it makes them hard to read in low light.
Calibre L688 Movement
Behind the dial beats the heart of a Calibre L688 movement. Also known as the ETA A08.L01, this movement is used in a number of popular Longines watches, including their Flagship Chronograph, HydroConquest, and Master Collection watches. This movement beats at a rate of 4Hz, with a total of 28,800 beats per hour. It also boasts a power reserve of 54 hours, so it can last through the weekend if you’re leaving it off for a couple days.
In addition, the balance spring is constructed from silicon rather than metal, which makes it impervious to magnetic fields. The result is better accuracy than most automatic movements, even under demanding conditions. There’s also an upgraded column wheel, which makes pusher operation incredibly smooth and accurate.
A Vintage Leather Strap
The Avigation BigEye Titanium comes with a smooth brown leather strap that doesn’t distract from the watch itself. It has a beautiful vintage appearance, with reinforced stitching near the lugs and a titanium buckle that matches the case. It’s understated, but it’s comfortable to wear and compliments the watch well.
To view all of Longines offerings visit their official website here.