Longines is a much more dynamic brand than many in the watch world give it credit for.
As one of Swatch Group’s mid-tier marques, the Saint Imier-founded horological juggernaut crested $1.2B in revenue in 2022, having made over 50 million timepieces since 1832. Given these figures and its market positioning, one might suspect a “spray and pray” approach to watchmaking — and indeed, there’s some of that at play — but the brand’s strategy has proven downright prescient at times: Indeed, it was Longines that heralded the coming of the “vintage watch reissue” boom of the 2010s/2020s with the 2007 introduction of its Legend Diver (which has since expanded with gobs of similarly nostalgic models).
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Likewise, Longines has offered up dozens of relatively affordable watches in the vein of, well, various other highly popular watches that are less affordable. Diehard watch enthusiasts (read: snobs like me) might find the 2007 HydroConquest dive watch a bit too derivative of the Rolex Submariner, for example — but I for one get it. Cue some Swiss version of Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine: “We in the business of sellin’ watches, and lemme tell ya — business is a-boomin’!” (Another point we’ve heard made by Longines executives: You wanna sell lots of watches? Put date windows on them.) Point being: Longines is no niche, privately-owned marque catering to we enthusiasts. These people are in Macy’s, for God’s sake.
However. Swinging back in the enthusiast direction, for a comment, takes us to today’s news: Namely, the release of the HydroConquest GMT, a combination diver-GMT with a “caller” GMT function — credit to James Stacey for the term for a dual-time watch with an independently adjustable local 12-hour hand, like that of the Rolex GMT-Master — and both a traditional dive bezel as well as a 24-hour scale. Now that’s a watch I’d wear the shit out of!
Why? As someone who’s constantly on the road (and constantly keeping track of people in various time zones around the globe) I love the idea of a GMT-equipped watch. However, I’m also one of those merry few weirdos who actually uses the dive bezel on his dive watch for all sorts of stuff, from timing segments of my practice routine on the guitar, to timing laundry in the dryer, to — well — actual dive timing. (You know — like, underwater, and stuff.) On top of that, given my frequent travel, a GMT watch with locally adjustable hours is a nice touch, as this makes changing one’s local time zone — as opposed to one that one is tracking — a cinch. Believe it or not, all these things together constitute a tough feature set to find in a watch.
Which is why the new HydroConquest is pretty darn exciting. Would I prefer it in a package that’s less derivative of a Submariner? Sure. But do I also get that Longines is in the business of sellin’ watches? Yes. Yes I do. So without further torching and pitchforking, let’s dive in, shall we?
The new HydroConquest GMT is a 41mm stainless steel watch measuring 12.9mm thick, which undercuts a watch like Tudor’s Black Bay GMT (a great friggin’ watch, for the record) by about 2mm. It does this via the inclusion of the new Longines Caliber L844.5, which is produced by ETA, a Swatch Group-owned, Swiss movement producer. (This movement itself is a notable development, as until fairly recently, there’s been a dearth of third party-produced GMT movements with independently adjustable local 12-hour hands.) All this is welcome news for those who wish to wear the watch in more formal settings — ones in which it should conceivably slip under a shirt cuff, for example.
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Available in four dial colors, the HydroConquest GMT comes either on a matching stainless steel Oyster-style bracelet, a rubber dive strap, or nylon NATO strap, the first two of which feature a micro-adjust clasp. Catering to various tastes, there’s a classic black dial option; a blue variant; a cool OD-green variant; and finally, a brown variant that looks vaguely “tropicalized” — and all of these sport a handsome sunray finish. Water resistance measures a handy 300m, and a ceramic bezel insert with a diving scale fixed upon a unidirectional bezel makes for a distinctly modern timing instrument.
Remember the bit about this watch being a combination-diver/GMT? Take a close look at the dial and you’ll see a 24-hour scale around the periphery. This, when combined with the watch’s fourth GMT hand, allows for tracking of a second time zone, while the dive bezel allows for conventional dive timing. Meanwhile, ample Super-LumiNova provides the much-needed legibility we all crave in low-light environments, and a date window at 3 o’clock makes travel and easy time zone changes a cinch.
A “weekend-proof” 72-hour power reserve, genuinely useful functionality, various dial options, good looks — the HydroConquest GMT has quite a bit going for it. But what about price? You’re looking at $2,675 for the NATO-equipped version or $2,775 for the rubber or steel-paired references. So somewhat less than, for example, Tudor’s vintage-inspired divers and GMT watches, but certainly more than simpler fare from the likes of various microbrands at the sub-$1,000 price point. Certainly, however, neither company has a watch matching the HydroConquest GMT’s particular remit, with mixed diver/GMT features.
Let me be frank: The Longines HydroConquest GMT may not be a perfect watch, but it’s a watch that’s going to make lots of people very, very happy. Even we picky enthusiasts!
- Diameter: 41mm
- Movement: Longines Caliber L844.5 automatic
- Water Resistance: 300m
- Special Features: GMT functionality; dive bezel
- Price: $2,675-$2,775
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