Over the past decade or so, pretty much every major watch manufacturer has leaned into vintage-style designs. Many of these brands, lacking any significant history of their own, invent their heritage out of whole cloth. Longines, however, has no need to fake anything. Thanks to its status as one of the oldest and historically prestigious Swiss watchmakers, Longines has more than enough material in its back-catalog from which to mine inspiration. As a result, the brand’s vintage reissues are not only plentiful but among the best in the business, and one of Longines’ most popular of these efforts is its Legend Diver. Curious about the real-life performance of the watch, we got our hands on a Longines Legend Diver to check it out for ourselves.
Case Size: 42mm Lug to Lug: 52mm Case Thickness: 13.5mm Lug Width: 22mm Case Material: Stainless Steel Water Resistance: 300m Movement Type: Automatic Power Reserve: 72 Hours Movement: Caliber L888 (Modified ETA 2892) Lume: Super-LumiNova Crystal: Sapphire Strap: Stainless Steel Mesh Bracelet
This is a watch that really needs to be seen in action in order to be fully appreciated, so we recommend you have a look at our detailed Longines Legend Diver video review over on our YouTube channel.
The thing that immediately stands out upon first laying eyes upon the Longines Legend Diver in person is just how striking it is. Despite its mid-century origins and retro styling, this is not a subtle timepiece — not by a longshot. Its case is on the larger side with lugs that go on for days, and it’s fully polished so it really sparkles. Combine the striking case with the also-polished stainless steel mesh bracelet, vintage-inspired black dial, and tall box crystal and you’ve got one serious head-turner in the metal.
Putting The Long In Longines
As we mentioned, the case of the Legend Diver is entirely polished, so if you’re into contrasting finishing surfaces, you won’t find what you’re looking for here. However, if you appreciate the beauty in simplicity, then you’ll be very pleased with this diver’s case. It has a thin bezel, a relatively thin profile, and gorgeous long, curved lugs. Speaking of the lugs, they’re probably a bit too long. Longines has a bit of a reputation for putting long lugs on its modern sports watch cases, and that’s certainly true here, with the lugs adding a full 10mm of length to the not-exactly-small 42mm case size. This makes the watch a bit overpowering for smaller wrists, but thankfully, Longines does offer a 36mm version of the watch, so it’s kind of a moot point. Otherwise, we really love the case design, as the twin crosshatched crowns add a nice touch (the case is styled to look like a supercompressor, but it’s not an actual supercompressor case) and the scuba diver motif on the case back is another fun, vintage nod.
The Longines Legend Diver’s vintage styling continues in a big way on the dial, which is where the brand’s touch for tasteful historical resurrection really comes in handy. The black lacquered dial is busy but beautiful, with vintage-colored print appearing nearly everywhere you look. Arabic indices mark 12, 6, and 9, with a color-matched (including the font color) date window replacing the index at 3. Long hash marks are present at every minute indicator, and the entire timekeeping dial is surrounded by a matching internal bezel with pleasing symmetry and numerical labels every 15 minutes with a triangle at 12. Offset by a bold shovel hour hand and simple baton minute hand and stick seconds hand, the dial is a well-rounded retro stunner that wears its plentiful markings well.
As if the two-crown setup and inner rotating bezel weren’t enough to set the Longines Legend Diver apart from the dive watch crowd, Longines went the extra mile by also outfitting the watch with a rather uncommon bracelet. Rather than giving the Legend Diver a variation of a three-link Oyster-style bracelet like most of its competition, Longines opted for something a bit more interesting with a stainless steel mesh bracelet. Entirely polished like the case and featuring a dual push-button clasp with a crosshatched and winged hourglass-signed safety latch, the bracelet is comfortable, sharp-looking, and further drives home the unique vintage styling of the watch. One thing to note: the watch is only so adjustable, and if your wrists are smaller than 6.25” then you probably won’t be able to get the bracelet to wear small enough. This is another reason for smaller-wristed individuals to consider the 36mm version of the watch.
There is a lot of debate in the watch community over whether or not Longines’ exclusive ETA-based movements should count as in-house calibers. After all, both Longines and ETA are members of the Swatch group, and the companies work hand-in-hand when developing exclusive movements. Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, the L888 caliber inside the Legend Diver is not one of Longines’ more prestigious movements. It’s a modified ETA 2892 tuned down to 25,200bph in order to achieve a power reserve of 72 hours. It’s a perfectly practical and robust movement offering decent accuracy, and while it’s nothing to write home about, it certainly gets the job done and is appropriate for this price range.
Unsurprisingly, where the Longines Legend Diver really shines is on the wrist — literally. Its fully-polished makeup glistens brilliantly and really makes a scene, and its rather uncommon vintage design really makes a stylish and striking statement on the wrist. We never saw Don Draper wear a dive watch on Mad Men — he went with dress watches or the occasional Rolex Explorer — but it’s easy to imagine that this would’ve been his diver of choice. And while the Legend Diver is on the larger side, particularly with those long, long lugs, its relative thinness and curvy build allow it to sit comfortably on many a wrist.
If you’re looking for a vintage-styled diver that isn’t just another take on a “Big-crown” Rolex Submariner, then you ought to give some serious consideration to the Longines Legend Diver. One of the signature models of the historic brand, the Legend Diver’s unique design and retro-cool aesthetic make it the perfect choice for discerning watch collectors looking to stand out from the pack.
Can’t get enough of vintage-style dive watches? Then take a look at our review of another stunner in the segment, the Tudor Black Bay 58.
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