The Revolutionary Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch2:16 pm
“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”
― Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf rightly assimilates the importance of history and the effect it can have on a mindset. We always pay extra attention or sense a feeling of belonging to a product or place after we learn of their history, a sense of their origin. It is a given that historical importance related to a commodity helps in increasing the value of the product tenfold. Especially when it comes to watches, the brand name and the history, a collection it represents is crucial in determining the market and aesthetic value. What the Submariner is for Rolex and Speedmaster is for Omega, the Lindbergh is for Longines.
The Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle watch is a pleasant reminder of the bygone days where we were inept of figuring out our exact location. The easily accessible GPS systems and navigational facilities have made a breakthrough in the way we figure out our exact location. This watch takes us back to a time where navigation was not as easy as the push of a button.
The name Lindbergh comes from the legendary Charles Lindbergh – the first man who made a solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927. Longines was the official timekeeper of the historical flight which was completed in 33 hours and 30 minutes. At the time, the navigational facilities available were still in the process of continuous developments. With limited options of navigation from dead reckoning (it is the process of calculating one’s current position by using a previously determined position) pilotage also known as ‘looking out your window’, radio (finding your location from a radio beacon on the ground), to celestial navigation (also known as astronavigation which uses angular measurements between celestial bodies to locate one’s position). Shortly after the successful completion of his legendary flight, Lindbergh was very interested in designing a watch that would help pilots with easy navigation. Hence began the partnership between Longines and Lindbergh.
“Sometimes, flying feels too godlike to be attained by man. Sometimes, the world from above seems too beautiful, too wonderful, too distant for human eyes to see”
— Charles A. Lindbergh
The Hour Angle watch was an improved version of the ‘second setting’ watch which was also a product developed by Longines in collaboration with an authority on navigational instruments and technology, Navy Captain Phillip Van Horn Weems. The main purpose of the watch was to work with Weems system of navigation (the then-current term used for navigation in flight) which made calculating the hour angle easier and simpler.
What is an Hour Angle, you ask?
Just as we calculate the time difference in reference to the Greenwich Mean Time, the Hour Angle Watch calculates the angular distance west of the Greenwich Meridian wherein the longitudes are equivalent to degrees. Based on the math that the earth rotates once in 24 hrs, the 360 degrees in a circle represents 15 degrees each. Once you find out the Greenwich Hour Angle for a celestial body, you can have your longitude (shown in blue numbers on the dial). However, I would like to mention here that this is just the tip of the iceberg in understanding the full functionality of this particular watch. In order to conclude an exact location, one will need the help of other instruments like a sextant and an Astronomic almanac.
Today, the historic Lindbergh Hour Angle watch is re-created under the Heritage collection to pay homage to its ancestor that changed the face of navigation. It comes from a time when timepieces were used as tools for navigation. Born from the pioneering age of navigation, the Longines Lindbergh is a magnificent piece of history with worldwide fame and popularity. The re-created versions now combine the historical essence of the original with innovation and modern watchmaking technology.
Sticking to the original in its design, the watch sits heavy on the wrist at 47.5mm diameter which adds to the old-world charm and functionality of the watch. The hinged back, engraved rotating bezel with lacquered dials bearing the same painted markers and Breguet-style blue hands are all historically accurate. While there is zero possibility of anyone actually using its navigational functions in this day and age of GPS and Google Maps, wearing one on the wrist is a wonderful reminder of the bygone era of navigational history. The watch comes in a genuine alligator strap with a strap extension piece
Then and Now
There are a few changes that have been made in the recent versions. Firstly, the inner dial like the original works in co-ordination with the seconds but it can be operated by pulling out the onion- shaped crown to its second position instead of a separate dedicated crown. Secondly, the classic hinge back is released by the introduction of a tiny button at 4 o’clock.
The hinge back reveals the magnificent movement protected by a sapphire crystal glass with Lindbergh’s name and patent number engraved on the cover. Apart from these minute departures from the original design, the biggest difference is the use of self-winding mechanic calibre namely L6992. The movement includes 24 jewels with a frequency of 28,800 vph. It is water resistant of up to 30m and a power reserve of 46 hours.
This is a watch that holds such great historical importance that wearing a re-created version of the legendary Longines Lindenberg is an honour in itself. The new Hour Angle is a perfect recreation of the original. While it may not be the most practical piece to wear on your wrist due to its huge size, it is still the most sought-after watch.
Looking like as if it has just been pulled straight out of a time capsule, the Longines Lindbergh Heritage Hour Angle is a watch you cannot ignore. It takes you back in the past where figuring out your location relied entirely on the workings of a watch. Experience the bygone era filled with edge of the seat adventure and explorations.
Did we miss out anything? What is your favourite re-created classic timepiece? Let us know in the comment section below
(Image courtesy: hodinkee & watchalyzer)
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Features Writer, The Watch Guide
A budding watch enthusiast with an undying love for crime fiction and a soft spot for fantasy too!