Longines BigEye: The Underrated Versatile Pilot Watch
Longines has been in the industry long enough to understand the needs of its target market. That is why the Longines Avigation BigEye L28164532 was introduced as a way to help maintain the brand’s longevity, maintaining its traction for future generations to come.
Better known as the Longines BigEye, this is a quintessential pilot watch that embodies classy sophistication and straightforward, functional timekeeping. Inspired by an older Longines aviation model that was released in the 1930s, the Longines BigEye makes for a fantastic, versatile beater watch that can tackle any challenge everyday life has to throw at it. Without further ado, read on to find out more about the Longines BigEye, its specifications, and everything it has to offer.
As we mentioned, the Longines BigEye was inspired by an older Longines pilot watch model, and these classic aviation influences can be seen right off the bat. The Longines BigEye takes the form of a highly-functional chronograph watch, while also incorporating modern design ticks that add to its stylish look.
This combination of vintage and contemporary elements imbues the Longines BigEye with a very handsome, versatile aesthetic that makes it a great choice for everyday casual use too. Whether you are looking for a useful tool watch to accompany you on a trip in the skies, or a sturdy beater piece to bring on your daily stroll, the classy Longines BigEye can fulfil all your needs.
The Longines Avigation BigEye L28164532 comes in a 41mm round titanium case, which is extremely light and highly durable, with excellent resistance against scratches and impacts. This is coupled with substantial, slanting lugs and a thick fixed bezel, also made of titanium. While these give the watch a heftier, more robust look, the Longines Avigation BigEye is actually lighter than it looks, thanks to its titanium composition. The case, lugs, and bezel are all finely polished so that the Longines BigEye shows off a lustrous sheen that plays with light wonderfully.
On the right side of the case, there is a stout unguarded crown, surrounded by two long, protruding pushers which are used to control the watch’s chronograph functions. While the pushers have smoothly polished surfaces, the crown possesses knurled edges, providing wearers with a better grip so they can grasp and turn the crown more easily. Embossed on the top of the crown is the brand’s name in clean capital letters. This is a small, subtle touch that adds to the classiness of the Longines BigEye.
Turning the Longines BigEye over, you will find a solid titanium case back, which contributes to the lightweight build of the watch. This case back is carved with straight lines that radiate outwards from the centre, along with an engraving of Longines’ plane logo and the brand’s name as well. Around the rim of the case back, details on the watch are etched.
The Longines BigEye’s case back, like its crown, is securely screwed down, keeping the watch’s inner mechanisms safe from any external elements such as dust and moisture. Thanks to this crown and case back, the Longines BigEye has a water resistance rating of 30 metres. This is quite a weak depth rating, especially for a pilot watch. Nevertheless, it is enough to protect the Longines BigEye from any accidental splashes and showers, although we do not recommend you go swimming with this watch.
The highlight of the Longines Avigation BigEye is easily its stylish, handsome dial. This dial boasts an alluring, textured-looking petrol blue finish that you simply cannot take your eyes off. Standing out against this dark dial is clean, painted white indices for the minute track and silver sand-blasted hands, allowing for optimal legibility. The dial is also marked with pronounced Arabic numeral markers. The watch’s Arabic numerals and hands are all filled with muted yellow Super-LumiNova, which gives off a bright green glow in the dark. This enables wearers to easily read the watch’s face even in poor lighting conditions.
As a pilot watch, the Longines BigEye also showcases a straightforward chronograph layout. Placed at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions of the watch are three distinct, sunburst black chronograph sub-dials in varying sizes. They serve as the small seconds, 60-minute, and 12-hour counters respectively.
Powering the Longines Avigation BigEye is an in-house Longines L688 movement. Modified from the popular Valjoux 7750 movement, the Longines L688 is a self-winding mechanical calibre that beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz).
This calibre is equipped with an impressive power reserve of 66 hours, which allows you to leave the Longines BigEye aside for a whole weekend without ever having to worry about winding it. It also comes with a silicon balance spring, which facilitates improved accuracy and makes the movement less susceptible to damage from strong magnetic fields.
The watch strap of the Longines Avigation BigEye is very simple, if classy. It is offered with a supple brown calf leather strap, which offers a more elegant, mellow contrast against the striking petrol blue dial. It also comes with a stainless steel buckle, which helps keep the strap securely fastened to your wrist. This handsome brown leather strap adds to the versatile style of the Longines BigEye, giving it a tastefulness that would not look out of place at a dinner party.
The Longines Avigation BigEye L28164532 sells at $3,375 USD.
Alternatives to the Longines Avigation BigEye
1. Luminox Atacama Field Automatic Ref. XL.1901
First on the list, we have the Luminox Atacama Field Ref. XL.1901, which is one of the most popular Luminox watches perfect for everyday wear. Versatile and extremely affordable, this is a great choice for those looking for an entry-level beater piece.
The Luminox Atacama Field Ref. XL.1901 is presented in a 44mm case made of 316L stainless steel and a black leather strap. It is slightly larger than the Longines BigEye, and, thanks to its stainless steel build, it is also quite a bit heftier. While not cumbersome, this is definitely a watch that feels quite substantial around your wrist.
Setting a stark contrast against its silver case is the watch’s jet-black dial. This dial follows a very straightforward layout. On the edge of the dial, you can find a minute track that bears stick indices and double-digit Arabic numerals in five-minute intervals. The dial’s rim, on the other hand, is painted over with a white seconds track, indicated by a vibrant red seconds hand that sweeps over the dial. Placed next to each Arabic numeral marker is a tritium gas tube, which illuminates the watch face when in the dark, allowing for optimal readability.
Towards the centre of the dial, you can also find a silver chapter ring. This chapter ring has bright red indicators for the handy 24-hour layout. Overlapping the chapter ring at 3 o’clock is a sizeable day-date complication with clean, legible white text. Finally, completing this watch’s dial are slender silver sword hands, also fitted with tritium gas tubes.
Underneath this straightforward watch face, you can find an SW220-1 automatic calibre. This is a simple, reliable movement with a solid 38-hour power supply.
This Luminox Atacama Field watch sells at $990 USD, making it a very reasonably-priced alternative to the Longines BigEye.
2. Hamilton Jazzmaster Ref. H32766513
For an affordable alternative that can match the Longines BigEye in elegance, check out the Hamilton Jazzmaster Ref. H32766513. This watch is housed in a 45mm stainless steel case, coupled with a shiny, dark brown alligator leather strap. Despite its larger case diameter, the case of this watch is quite thin, measuring just 15mm, so you will not find this watch too heavy to tote around.
This Hamilton Jazzmaster piece shows off a stunning silver dial. The elements on this chronograph watch are all well spaced out, giving off an impression of clean neatness. It comprises exquisite rose gold-tone dauphine hands and applique Arabic numeral hour markers, along with a day-date display at 3 o’clock and a simple minute track on its rim. At the top and bottom of the dial, you can find two small chronograph sub-dials for the 30-minute and 12-hour counters.
Driving this watch is the in-house Hamilton Calibre H-21. Held together by 25 jewels, this movement beats at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz) and has a substantial power reserve of 60 hours. In addition, it possesses a water resistance rating of 100 metres, which is considerably more than the 30-metre depth rating offered by the Longines BigEye.
This Hamilton watch is priced at around $1,150 USD.
3. Victorinox FieldForce Classic Chrono Ref. 241928
Lastly, Victorinox is yet another watch company that specializes in utility timepieces with opulent looks and excellent functionality. The brand’s Victorinox FieldForce Classic Chrono Ref. 241928 is a fresh take on a classic military watch. It is packed full of useful complications that boost its utility, particularly for sports and other outdoor activities.
This Victorinox watch utilises a 42mm stainless steel case, paired with thick, slanting lugs and a supple brown leather strap. Fitted on top of the case is a metallic black tachymeter bezel made out of scratch-resistant aluminium.
Complementing the bezel is a matching matte black dial. This dial consists of large silver Arabic numeral markers, silver-tone sword hands, and a date aperture at 6 o’clock. Near the centre of the dial, you can find three chronograph sub-dials that are tightly packed together, serving as the 30-minute, 60-minute and 12-hour countes. Each hand and hour marker on this watch is filled with Super-LumiNova, which helps considerably in the legibility of the watch face. Field watches are also not known for having chronographs, so this is a unique take on the field watch which appeals to individuals who appreciate chronographs in particular.
This watch runs on a quartz chronograph mechanism, which ensures maximum precision. It also has a good 100-metre depth rating, so you could easily take this watch with you on a swim or a dive.
The price for this Victorinox Fieldforce watch starts at just $450 USD, making it the most budget-friendly alternative to the Longines BigEye.
The best thing about the Longines Avigation BigEye is that what you see is what you get. It does not try to be the next big thing nor does it try to trump other watch brands. Focusing instead on a simple and appealing design, the Longines BigEye successfully works as a stylish and versatile pilot watch that is fit not just for the sky, but also for your next dinner party or casual meeting with your friends. With its impressive watch movement and impeccable looks, the Longines BigEye is definitely worth checking out.
All images courtesy of The Watch Company, unless stated otherwise.Featured image courtesy of Longines.
If you are still on the hunt for the perfect heritage watch, have a look at our review on the Tissot Heritage 1973—it might have the vintage look you are looking for.