Timekeeping
By Ed Estlow
on 7.1.14

In the 1930s, the U.S. Army issued criteria for several (17 in all) timepieces to be used by troops and aviators. Among these specifications was A7, which specified a rotated dial and a timer to be operated by single push-button in the crown.

The A7’s distinctively angled dial (45° to the lugs) was oriented so the chronograph could be worn on the inside of the wrist. Wearing the watch this way allowed the dial to be aligned with the aircraft’s instruments. The pilot could read the timepiece without moving his arm or letting go of the controls. Not much use in a dog fight — if you look at your watch, you’re dead — but handy in the heat of a tense bombing run when timing accuracy is critical.

At this point we could be describing either the original timepiece, produced in the late 1930s, or the current reissue homage by Longines. The new Avigation Watch Type A7 ($4900) differs visually only in minor dial details. Other features remain: the 49-millimeter diameter, the hinged case back (which now covers a sapphire window into the new A7’s inner sanctum), the Breguet hands, and Arabic numerals (which were found on civilian versions of the original). It was the civilian version of the original type A7 which sported a tachymeter track at dial’s edge, not the military version.

Even the new A7’s column wheel movement harkens back to the original, though this one is self-winding (that concept hadn’t yet been invented when the original was in service). The L788.2 is a Longines-proprietary ETA movement inspired by the brand’s venerable stopwatch movements of old, including the Calibre 18.72 which powered the original type A7 during WW II.

So strap on the Avigation Type A7, confident that you won’t need to move your hand from the keyboard to check the time. We break it all down for you above.

ADVENTURE IS ONE CLICK AWAY

Subscribe to GP for a daily dose of the best in gear, adventure, design, tech and culture. 5pm sharp.