Every once in a while, a watch comes along that’s bold and unique enough to make a powerful first impression. The Longines Spirit Zulu Time Collection is one of those watches. This is part of Zulu’s larger Spirit line of watches, which rank among the most popular, reliable GMT watches on today’s market. It’s a favorite of travelers and collectors alike, so I had good reason to get my hands on one of the latest editions.
The Spirit Zulu gets its name from Longines’ first dual time zone watch, which was manufactured in 1925. This watch had the Zulu flag on its dial, which was in turn a reference to the letter “Z,” which is called “Zulu” in international radio communications.
Why “Z”? Z is short for “Zero Time,” which is another name for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Over time, pilots and the military have taken to calling GMT “Zulu Time,” so the name is perfect for a GMT watch. Now, let’s take a closer look!
One Dial, Three Color Schemes
The Longines Spirit Zulu comes in three different color schemes. There’s a matte black, a forest green, and a deep metallic blue. Other than the color, all three are identical. They have the same features, highlights, and parts, so as I’m describing one, I’m describing them all.
The outer index is a narrow band around the perimeter of the dial. It has a thin gold band on the outside, with a fatter band on the inside. The individual minute hashes are tiny, while the five-minute hashes are a bit longer, extending almost all the way to the inner gold band. For emphasis, this band has little gold diamond shapes embedded at the five-minute marks. The effect is both subtle and visually striking, and it’s one of the more unique features of this particular watch.
Inside of the fatter gold band, there’s a set of gold applied Arabic numerals. These numerals are big and chunky, and visibly “pop” out of the dial. The surfaces are painted with a Super LumiNova finish, so you get plenty of low light visibility. The exception to this is the six o’clock position, where there’s a date window in place of a numeral. This window has no border, and has white Arabic numerals, with a background that matches the dial.
The rest of the dial is plain, with no subdials or other complications. In the top portion, you’ll see the words “Longines Automatic” printed in gold, with an applied gold Longines eagle emblem. The bottom half says “Zulu Time Chronometer” in similar type, with five applied gold stars.
The hands are also gold, and the hour and minute hands have a broad design. They’re broad and straight in the middle, with tapered bases and pointed tips. They also sport Super LumiNova stripes down the centers, so you can see them at night. The second hand is far more slender, with a small, diamond-shaped lume pip near the tip. The GMT hand has a similarly slender design, with a broad arrow tip with a lume fill. The inner portion of this hand is the same color as the dial, so it appears to float around the circumference.
A Rugged, Reliable Case
The stainless steel case has a diameter of 42mm and a thickness of 13.9mm. This gives it a medium wrist presence, with a solid, weighty feel to it. It tapers to 22mm at the lugs, which are blocky and tough. At the 3 o’clock position, there’s a screw-down crown with knurled sides. This helps to contribute to a water-resistance rating of 100 meters, enough for swimming, snorkeling, and most other aquatic activities.
The rotating ceramic bezel is colored to match the dial, with 24-hour lume markings. The even positions are marked with Arabic numerals, while the odd-numbered positions are marked by small dots. Inside the bezel, the crystal is made from a scratch-resistant sapphire, which is coated inside and out with an anti-reflective finish. The shape is slightly domed, which creates a little cosmetic distortion around the edges. The case back is embossed with a large Longines logo, along with the words “Zulu Time Longines,” and the usual serial number and movement information.
In-House L844.4 Movement and Stainless Steel Bracelet
This watch utilizes an in-house Longines L844.4 movement. This is a true GMT movement, and the local hour hand has a quick set feature for easy use during travel. It actually beats a little slower than most modern movements, at a rate of 25,200 BPH. Then again, it also has a 72-hour power reserve, enough to go a full three days of disuse without needing to wind it.
When the Spirit Zulu ships, it comes with a stainless steel tri-link bracelet. This bracelet is both secure and comfortable, although you’ll probably need a professional to adjust it. And with a double safety folding clasp and a push-to-open release, it’s one of the better-designed watch bands on the market.
To view of of Longines’ offerings visit their official website here.
Daniel G says
Great article but its a 42mm and I don’t believe you mentioned the quick release system for the steel and leather bracelets/bands. Cheers
Thorsteinn F says
Love the look of the watches, but how do you set the GMT hand/time? I can´t find any info on that and not seen it done in any review video!
Set the GMT hand to the zone you want to track and then set the hour hand to the time you are in.
Marty pants says
Or turn the bezel forward or back how many hours you have went, if you go 8 hours ahead move the bezel 8 hours ahead and the gmt hand will be on your new time if you have it set on the 24 hr mark. A rotating bezel for me is a must for a gmt or it’s pointless. Route bezel instead of messing about with moving hands.