Where Did Longines' BigEye Come From? No One Knows
Longines has announced a sporty new version of its award-winning Avigation BigEye pilot’s watch.
Vintage-inspired sports watches are ten-a-penny these days, but Longines has more claim to the market than most, having supplied wristwatches to the aviation pioneers of the Thirties, including the very famous ones – Howard Hughes and Amelia Earhart.
The brand hasn’t been shy about mining its archives to produce “new old” models for retro watch fans today, but the BigEye is still something of an anomaly. Released in 2017, it certainly looked like a reinterpretation of a Thirties aviation chronograph, but not one that existed in any Longines museum – the original watch was bought to the brand by a collector. Unusually, then, no one knows for sure what year the original come out, whether it was a prototype, or any additional details. Longines did a superb job of recreating it, however – so much so that the BigEye was the Grand Winner of the Prize “Revival” at the 2017 Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève, the annual awards always described as “the watch world’s Oscars”.
The 2017 model featured large pushers, minimal dial text, and distinctive hands. For obvious reasons pilot’s watches need to be among the easiest-to-read models and legibility on the BigEye was excellent: an all-black base, large and numinous Arabic markers, and a design that lets everything breathe, despite having a lot of information to display.
Now Longines has announced a new blue version of the Avigation BigEye. Proportions remain the same: 41mm in diameter with water resistance to 30m. What’s new is the grade 5 titanium case and the gradient-effect petrol blue dial, plus the numerals now displayed in a solid cream color. You’d struggle to describe these colors as historically accurate but when no one knows where the watch really came from in the first place, who cares?
The petrol blue dial works handsomely and gives the gives the BigEye a cooler, sportier twist. A different take on “new old” aviation watches, a trend that looks set to continue to soar for some time yet.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.