BY HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN
Sports watches that are underrated? On the top end of the spectrum, I’d be looking at watches like Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms. It’s got a cult following, but it’s nowhere near as recognisable as Rolex’ Submariner. The Fifty Fathoms truly is an excellent watch, but it commands a very high price for that excellence. At the other end of the spectrum is Blancpain’s Swatch-Group sister brand Longines which makes the HydroConquest, an attractive diver that doesn’t intend to break the bank. The newest HydroConquest steps up the aesthetics with new materials, let’s take a look.
I think it’s all too easy to lose ourselves in the hysteria of brands remaking watches they’ve made before, thereby forgetting when a brand makes a watch that is a genuinely good design. Take the Planet Ocean by Omega. It’s a genuinely great watch that is built to very high standards and looks thoroughly modern. And yet, when Omega releases a new Speedmaster lots of people forget everything “BeCaUsE iT’s A nEw SpEeDmAsTeR”.
Longines is prone to remaking its old models, but that’s okay because they have a very strong history of making excellent watches. Many people say that the current brand isn’t what it once was, and I mostly agree with them. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make good watches.
The new HydroConmquest keeps the 41mm case we’ve seen before. The base metal is stainless steel, but Longines has added some oomph to the design with a small addition of PVD gold. Whilst you may be disappointed that it doesn’t use solid gold, remember that solid gold is expensive and easily dented due to its malleability. This watch, therefore, provides the best of both worlds.
I should correct myself there and say these watches. Longines is releasing several models that come with a PVD gold bezel, crown and dial affair. Three of them come with a PVD yellow gold details, these come either a blue, black or green dial and bezel combination. Black and grey versions are also available with red gold PVD. Rubber straps a fabric pattern are available as well as a two-tone bracelet with more PVD gold.
Inside each watch is the calibre L888, an automatic movement with an improved 72-hour power reserve and a 3.5Hz beat rate. The balance spring is also made of silicone to help protect against impacts and magnetism. Previous versions of the L888 were based on an ETA, and this one is no different, as it’s built on the ETA A31.L02.
That helps keeps the costs down to a reasonable €1670. You still get a watch designed for the deep, with a 300m water resistance rating, a ceramic bezel and lume on the hands and markers of course.