It never ceases to amaze me how something complex can hide behind something so simple, this Longine's Flagship is just such one of those things, so today we look into this watch in all its glory. While this watch is not the most complex in terms of features or complications where it does excel is in its construction and use of both old and new methods within the individual systems. Its worth noting that this watch was produced in a time where machinery was not as advanced as today's, i think even in today's era the design would still be costly to produce but lets look at that further down the list.
The case back has now lost the original green & blue enamel infill but given the age this is fairly common to see, similar situation with Grand Seiko;s which no doubt some of you have seen.
The whole movement, dial , and hands are in very good condition throughout, simple design that is timeless and can still be found on modern remakes of Longine's watches.
The date disc on the upper plate is held down only by an outer ring which is purely friction fit, a light lift is enough to remove this and progress with the dial side. Visible in the bottom left photo we can see the use of an older rocker style bar that was more commonly found in earlier wrist watches, older but still a system that works well.
Turning over to the movement side we can see the rotor removed and with very little in way of parts to it, this allows the rotor to spin freely under kinetic force with minimal drag from other components. The Rotor and ring gear are formed as one piece and held only by a single small axle to the upper plate.
With the movement powered down and train bridge removed we can now see the rotor driving wheel as well as gear train. In the lower of the image you can see the use of the setting lever spring which is located in the middle of the inner main plate rather than dial side as would normally be found. The use of the rocker bar and the modern setting lever spring is a great system employing both older techniques and more modern parts in the same system.
In the middle of the upper images we can see the reversing gear and driving wheel which allow the rotor to wind the mainspring as well as freely manually winding of the movement. Also visible is the center wheel which in this movement is mounted to its own bridge/cock and secure by two screws from the dial side, see the closer image below >
Back on the dial side the motion work and date parts are removed, despite the busy look of the dial side the construction is kept as simple as possible using only what is needed to perform the task. The complexity lies in the manufacturing of the main plate and all the cut outs but we shall get to that in a moment.
With the movement stripped down it is then cleaned and later inspected before assembly. The above image shows the mainspring & barrel which is marked on the under side as " DO NOT OPEN " as is often found on Longine's watches. These sealed barrels ideally do need cleaning and re greasing but if a spare is not available then it may be best to leave alone, spares for this movement are like hens teeth so the best efforts are made before assembly.
With the movement all clean the re assembly was relatively straight forward, the above images are during assembly but not always in order :) The initial timing before adjustment was quite good but of course the watch needs time to settle before adjusting.
Although i have serviced thousands of watches ive never come across this calibre before and it has quite surprised me ( in a good way ). The use of old and new is quite unique and most of the watch movement design is quite simple but mostly efficient, the complexity is subtle and can be seen if you look closely at the level of detail in the main plate.
The watch main plate has been painfully and carefully cut out, holes drilled and various end mill cuts taken to produce a very intricate but simple design, the shear cost to produce this part must have been very high and even today would not be easy to make. Given the design and complex nature of it's manufacture it is beyond any doubt and reason as to why some watches cost as much as they do, although this watch can be found for relatively small sums these days its true value is much greater.
Overall this has been a great watch to work on, in fact its been an education, as just when you think you've seen it all there's always something new. This watch like so many will go on to be with a new owner and hopefully be enjoyed as much as it should be, the simple exterior hiding the otherwise more complicated machine inside.
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The next blog may be over with our friends over at Waha Watches but i will be sure to put a link up somewhere for yall !!
Hertfordshire based watch restorer. Follow my blog for new watches under restoration/repair