The Longines Avigation Oversize Crown Chronograph ($3,500) was modeled after a watch built for pilots inhabiting a cold, drafty, post-WWI cockpit. Thanks to timeless design and a few key updates, though, it works just as well during the cold, drafty days of this year’s autumn.
Inspired by a Longines design from 1920s, the watch’s black dial with railroad track chapter rings and gold-plated cathedral hands lends an entirely vintage look. The fluted rotating bezel may have originally been used to measure elapsed time on a bombing run but works just as well for timing more modern (and less destructive) things; its large onion crown allows for easy winding by a pilot wearing gloves and stands away from the case and bezel to not interfere with bezel use. The crown itself is the chronograph mono-pusher, giving the whole watch an air of efficiency, functionality and minimalism. A 41mm stainless steel case and a black alligator strap are just the right touches of modernity.
There’s plenty of practicality, too. The movement is Longines’ exclusive auto-winding column-wheel chronograph calibre, the L788, which offers a 54-hour power reserve and features two sub-dials — a 30-minute chrono register at 3:00 and running seconds at 9:00. Best of all, it’s a mono-pusher chrono, meaning all chronograph functions (start, stop and reset) are controlled “old school” by a single button. The column wheel movement is a more traditional chronograph design and one prized by watch lovers. Rarely seen in watches as affordable as the Avigation, it’s a pleasure to use and admire through the display case back.
This is a watch perfectly timed for the cooler days of fall. Strap it on, don your leather B2 jacket, your white scarf and your sheepskin gloves and hit the skies in your old Stearman PT-17 biplane. Or at least put the top down on your neighbor’s MG-TD and find some tree-lined two-lane blacktop somewhere.