Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle, an authentic investment

June 3, 2022By Bonetto Cinturini

The Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle watch is well known to sector enthusiasts, not only for its timeless, classic lines that make it one of the most elegant models on the market, but also for its extraordinarily fascinating story, which began about one hundred years ago during the war and involved air pilots.

When you buy a valuable jewel like this one, it is interesting to observe up close the prestigious finishes and top-range materials used, but also to contextualise it in the period of history it came from so as to fully understand its launch on the market and what it was actually made for. 

In this case, the watch was not made for aesthetic and fashion purposes, but was a true navigation instrument which, with the technology available at that time, allowed air pilots to find their exact position and always establish the correct route even when in unfavourable conditions.

Dive into the fantastic world of Lindbergh, going back in time and retracing the whole of last century through the various editions of this goldsmithing wonder.

When the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle was first made

The birth of an iconic watch like the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle is considered as being the 20th and 21st of May 1927, when the pioneer air pilot Charles Lindbergh decided to make a non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic. 

It was a truly notable adventure for the period, so he needed all available means to complete the flight in the best way possible.

For this reason, he decided to go to the historical brand and ask it to create an ad hoc product that could help air pilots who were preparing to fly in the European skies, in a period when orienting yourself was not as simple as it is today.

The brand, already futuristic for the time, welcomed the idea enthusiastically and started a productive collaboration that led to the creation of a jewel that still excites sector enthusiasts today.

But where does the watch name, ‘hour angle’, come from?

It is a function that establishes the longitude at any moment, measuring the angle formed with the Greenwich meridian, already a reference point for this type of operation at the time. 

After a trial period that demonstrated the optimal result that was obtained, a decision was made to market the watch, so it was launched in 1931 for sector professionals and those who loved luxury products and appreciated its lines, which were elegant and refined for the period and which are still considered a symbol of luxury today.

About 50 years were needed for a more modern edition of the model to appear, produced on the seventieth anniversary of the air pilot’s flight. Even though this new edition only partly respected the original idea, it still took people back to a stylish, functional past.

The changes probably resulted from the acquisition of the Longines company by the Swatch Group; the company was made more modern and smarter, so the watch size was greatly reduced.

A mineral glass back was added, and an ETA movement used for precision and correctness.

In spite of the differences, the jewel obtained the desired level of success, so much so that in 1990 a new version was elaborated that returned the watch to the previous diameter of 47.5 mm, the same as the original model that was tested on the wrist of the air pilot who desired it so much.

Purists were therefore very satisfied by this tribute, and subsequent confirmations, like when the watch was presented at Baselworld 2017 in Basel, were plentiful.

The characteristics of the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle watch: the details of a myth

When speaking about a watch as iconic as the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle, each and every detail is taken care of and all the elements fit together perfectly to give life to a one-of-a-kind model whose value has not lessened over time but has tended to increase because of the legendary air of mystery that encompasses it. 

Starting from the case, it was decided to opt for a diameter of 47.55 mm, an imposing size even for current standards given that, at the period, the reference models were much smaller. This showed the extent of the famous manufacturer’s desire for innovation when Lindbergh crossed the company threshold.

In spite of its size, the wristwatch is unexpectedly comfortable, probably because of the processed leather – not metal – strap, which makes it more ambiguous.

In addition, a buckle instead of the classic folding clasp guarantees safe closing; it gives greater stability and makes the model more wearable, less bulky while being worn.

It was originally air pilots who were to wear the watch during flight, so it had to be visible and contemporaneously not hinder movements while flying.

The design is therefore classic but modern at the same time, with a contrast between the innovative case and the vintage strap.

The Breguet-type hands, which are still being made of blued steel, indicate minutes and seconds with precision as they move around the dial.

The dial is an elegant polished and lacquered white, which favours greater visibility, and is protected by a zinc-plated crystal, always considering the initial use that the watch was designed for.

What are the advantages of owning a Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle?
In comparison with other, just as highly prestigious watches made in the same period and by very innovative houses, the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle has some very interesting original characteristics, which still make it one of the watches most coveted by luxury model enthusiasts even today.

First off, it has elegant Roman numerals, which are painted in black, to mark the minutes, and Arabic numbers from 1 to 12 which can be used to calculate the longitude, giving awareness of both the time and the position in any context wearers may find themselves in.
The combined technology is surprising if you think about the means available for this field at the time, and is proof of how the brand was already aiming towards the distant future.
There is also a second mobile inner dial with a fascinating design that marks the seconds.
The minutes are in black, while the seconds are in red, using a very strong but well-balanced colour palette for all the elements.

Thanks to the crown guard, operation can be modified and connected with a time signal, a function that was added after another leading military figure, Commander Philip Van Horn Weems, believed it could improve navigation and communication while flying.

Finally, the equation of time can be corrected every day using the external rotating bezel with Roman and Arabic numbers, so as to always have a precise idea of the time and angle in relation to the Greenwich meridian.

How to use a Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle today

If you are lucky enough to own a similar model, or if you have decided to buy one, it would be fun to learn the first basic steps by finding a nautical chart and trying to calculate your position in relation to the Greenwich meridian. 

If you are a sector professional, you can also take your watch onto an aircraft and use a traditional but effective technique to calculate the longitude.
Remember that this model can be used underwater up to a depth of 30 metres, so you can keep it on your wrist all day without worrying about damaging the movement.

The power reserve lasts for 42 hours, which means that the watch can be used for the whole day without having to open it. 

When necessary, there is a button between numbers 3 and 4 that opens the zinc-plated crystal for manually resetting the Eta charge with 28,800 vibrations per hour.

Moving to the purely aesthetic aspect, the strap is made of leather with a Charleston buckle, very fashionable at the time and still appreciated today by sector enthusiasts for its class and sophistication.

Despite its legendary allure, it can still be worn in the gym or while doing anything during the day, because its top of the range materials resist time and stress.

One of the characteristics that users appreciate most is the perfect balance that the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle has when on wrists, in spite of the size of its dial, which looks uncomfortable at first glance.
Drawing the due conclusions, the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle is certainly among the luxury watches with the most winning history; it conquers clients with its secular allure but also with its style, still considered to be at the apex of glamour.

It is a perfect mix of modern and vintage thanks to its innovative case and leather strap, with a perfect colour balance that adds personality to the model without making it too loud. Above all, it can be combined with any outfit.

Its inner movement is intuitive for sector experts, less for those who are not of the profession as far as latitude calculation is concerned. It is, however, within everyone’s reach in terms of recharging and starting in automatic after 42 hours of constant, precise use.

Gifting yourself a product of this type means making an investment that will never lose its market value, a value that will, on the contrary, tend to rise the more time goes by.