When it comes to classic watch brands, few are more classic than Longines – its lineup of sharp heritage models is personable but fairly understated. At least, that was the case before the new Ultra-Chron.
You could say that retro fashion for big brands started with Tudor Black Bay in 2012, which included a pop of red. After that, the freshest colors – both on the dial and the bezel – were mostly represented by smaller budget brands like Farer, Doxa and Spinnaker. But recently, big brands have begun to take notice of the cheerful factor of color, and the Longines Speedmaster collection is another example of this bold trend shift.
The Ultra-Chron is a cool rebirth of Longines’ ultra-precise sports watches from the late ’60s, with a ton of color added to it. This bodes well for its success, just a few weeks after Tudor unveiled its new Black Bay Pro. Even though its lemon-coloured GMT hands are Rolex-inspired, the colour is definitely hot right now. Within the Swatch Group, Longines has remained largely unknown, while steady partner Rado has become a popular evangelist with its successful Captain Cook collection. Even group brand Tissot has joined the game with the majestic Tissot starfish collection. The big turnaround last month came with Tag Heuer, which is now investing in color through Aquaracer. It’s a blockbuster sports watch that has nothing to do with flirtatious colors, but Tag Heuer opens a can of Fanta with its vibrant orange dial.
In fact, Longines dipped its toes into the paint bucket earlier this year with a new version of the Heritage Diver. There are two delicious red and blue fumè dials, and the rest of the pieces are largely formal, in keeping with Longines’ DNA. With the new Ultra-Chron out, we can’t help but wonder – is this the shift we’ve been waiting for?
The spark came from new CEO Matthias Breschan starting 2020; the first hint was a successful olive-green Hydroconquest with a rubber strap. Breschan, who previously ran the Rado and Hamilton brands, has enough design prowess to back up his instinct to tap into the rising retro fashion trend. We’re betting the Ultra-Chron will be a success because the key ingredients are there. With red accents and a cushion box associated with the vibrant seventies, it was all about the era of flares and sports cars.
The re-release of this niche legend should be a well-timed summer hit — a dive kit with gorgeous red. Reviving the hits of the late sixties remains key to reaping the rewards of a big year in 2022, as the trend isn’t slowing down. The Ultra-Chron features bright red markers on the classic diver’s bezel, which is made of durable and wear-resistant ceramic. In the same tomato red, the huge regulator-style minute hand ignites the textured black dial, setting a new tone for the bold colours of the Longines collection – a shift that will undoubtedly impress young watch buyers. Pop retro was just what the brand needed, and the timing was good.
However, the Longines Speedmaster collection isn’t all about glitz on the wrist. As a reissue of its super-accurate 60s chronometer, its technical specifications are backed up (like the METAS-certified Tudor BB Pro). Tested for 15 days at TIMELAB, an independent testing agency in Switzerland, this colorful watch is a certified super chronometer. So while it might end up being your favorite summer watch for that delicious YSL vintage red shirt you found on Etsy, its Hi-Beat heart will win you over. Damn, you might even stray into watch junkies. The third part of the Ultra-Chron Triple Threat is a bold 43mm tonneau case with a 300m depth rating and a choice of leather, canvas or steel straps. We’re here calling Longines a turning point and looking forward to more bright, summer-inspired decor that only underscores that Longines is a very complete brand.
The Ultra-Chron has the tech specs to back up its punch, and this new Swiss contender is throwing a punch in the ring.