It’s hard to think of a Swiss watch brand that offers better bang-for-buck satisfaction than fake Longines. Usually, a lengthy history (Longines is 11 years shy of its bicentenary) and a heritage in serious tool watches means premium prices. But, though they aren’t cheap, Longines watches dip frequently below the $2,500 mark—a kind of psychological divider between “attainable” and “not” for many fans—with watches that punch well above their weight.
Witness the Spirit collection, an outwardly simple, accessible-looking series of three-hand watches with date that have plenty of hidden charms once you get up close. Already issued with black, silver, and blue dials in 2020, the 2021 novelty has a very noticeable green dial.
One of the easier tasks in covering watchmaking is spotting a hot dial trend when you see one. And right now, green is it. Back in early April when, during Watches and Wonders, the great and the good disgorged hundreds of new novelties onto the market, it would have been apparent to anyone that green was the dial trend of the year. The hard part to fathom, however, is how so many brands felt the green vibe all at the same time. Clearly, there’s a pub in Geneva or a tavern up in the Vallée de Joux where watchmakers from different companies are wont to gather, after downing tools, to down a few lagers. Tongues will surely wag. No matter. With most new watches requiring months, if not years, to put together, this possible all-nighter was some time ago.
Back to the Swiss made copy Longines Spirit. Like its earlier siblings last year, it has something of the functional look of the old Dirty Dozen field watches issued to the British Army in World War II. That said, those watches (so called because they were supplied, with ever-so-slight variations, by 12 contracted watch companies) had seconds at 6 o’clock, while the Spirit has center seconds. Available in 40mm and 42mm sizes, with optional bracelets, the step case is reminiscent of those wartime watches. A slightly enlarged crown and a closed caseback engraved with the Longines logo are both in keeping with a gentle homage to WW2 timekeeping.
The Arabic numerals, meanwhile, give you the best of both worlds; a font style that’s distinctly 1930s in form but applied whole in thickly lumed metal frames rather than painted on the dial, which adds a little shine and gives the display a much more modern air. This is a vintage-inspired watch that doesn’t lay it on too thick, and as a result, despite nodding at passing trends, feels like a watch you could wear for years.
If all that were not enough to tempt you at the compelling price of $2,150 to $2,500 (depending on the size and whether you opt for a strap or steel bracelet), this Longines replica watch with steel bracelet is also a COSC-certified chronometer, which means its Longines-tweaked ETA movement has been tested to significantly higher standards of accuracy than most Swiss watches. Chronometers are as rare as rocking-horse poop, even with another grand on the price tag, which should convince you once and for all that Longines remains committed to offering unbeatable value for money in its watches.
Taking in coverage of this year’s launches, you could be forgiven for thinking the replica watch gods want us to lie down in green pastures. Dials in emerald, palm, olive, lime, malachite and all manner of other green shades dominate the new inventory.
The signs continue with copy Longines’ announcement today of a green-dialled variant of its not-long-launched Spirit watch. In October, the Saint-Imier brand debuted versions of its handsome new three-hand date model with black, white and blue dials. Whether adding another colour at this juncture was always on the cards or it’s simply a reaction to this year’s dial greenwash, I suppose we’ll never know, but judging by these images, it’s a good step either way.
In the metal, one watch is in fact four. There are two case sizes, one at 40mm and another at 42mm, and you can have either on a beige leather strap or a stainless-steel bracelet. If you’re feeling flush, you can pick up both strap options and change them yourself, thanks to the sort of quick strap change system that’s fast becoming a luxury watchmaking standard. They’re the same watch by any other measure. Prices start at £1,750 for the 40mm on a strap and rise to £2,050 for the 42mm Longines Spirit copy watch on a bracelet.
The Spirit’s dial has a dusty, army green canvas tent hue, with guyrope beige lume detailing. A nice touch is the signature diamond-shaped hour markers that cut into the dial’s outer ring, motifs lifted from watches Longines created for pioneer aviators and the military during a prolific prewar period. Those five stars across the dial are another throwback, this time to a device Longines once used to indicate its top-end pieces and has recently revived.
Indicating that quality is the automatic movement powering these watches. Created exclusively for Longines by sister company ETA, it provides the watch with time and date functions and a healthy 72-hour power reserve. It’s also chronometer certified for accuracy and upgraded with an anti-magnetic, low-maintenance silicon balance wheel, and joins a package Longines has stamped with a five-year warranty.
It’s a fine-looking watch with plenty of crossover appeal, although – and this thought isn’t at all specific to Longines copy watch with green dial– I can’t help thinking a green dial is a curious call, unless your watch wardrobe is already laced with black, white and blue. That said, if your answer to the pandemic is to buy a green-dialled watch with a spirit that says “fresh start”, I wouldn’t think of standing in your way. Instead, I’d argue Longines’ spin on the theme is a fine choice.
AAA perfect Longines introduced its Spirit collection last year, drawing its main inspiration from the timepieces that it produced in the early 20th century for pilots and explorers; Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, and Paul-Emile Victor were among the brand’s most famous wearers, along with Charles Lindbergh, who famously co-designed the Hour Angle, Longines’ most emblematic and enduring pilots’ watch. The Spirit models are not “pilots’ watches” in the strictest sense of the word, but rather can be described as “Pilot Style” timepieces, with a host of elements drawn from the past along with features that are definitively modern.
A while back, I had the opportunity to review the three-hand date fake model in steel and more recently I finally got my eager hands on the model that most caught my eye when the series was launched back in Spring 2020 — the Spirit Chronograph in a steel case with a sunburst blue dial. In just about every respect, the timepiece proved to be worth the wait.
The watch’s 42-mm case sits large but not intimidatingly so on the wrist, and at a fairly thick 15 mm in profile, definitely makes its presence felt. Like its three-handed brethren in the high-quality replica Spirit collection, it sports a thin, dramatically angled bezel framing the dial, giving said dial an impressively wide presence. The sharply angled, faceted lugs are satin-brushed on their largest surfaces, and polished on their angled facets. The bezel ring has a shiny polish on its sloped sides and a brushed finish on its top surface; together the elements, along with the dramatically sunburst-finished dial, create gleaming effects under bright light — obviously, not what a pilot would necessarily want in a cockpit, but appealing in a dress watch.
The screw-down crown is sharply fluted and shaped in the “diamond” style of those on older pilots’ watches (though on those vintage models, it would have likely been much larger). The pump-style chronograph pushers surrounding it are also historically derived and a tactile pleasure to operate. On the opposite side of the case is a bonus, and one not found on very many pilot or pilot-style watches I’ve encountered; a push-button for a quick advancement of the date (in a window at 4:30), secured from accidental usage by a screw-locking ring. I confess that I wasn’t expecting this feature, and the materials I had initially read from Longines don’t really emphasize it — my first reaction was that it might be a helium release valve, which would have made little sense on a watch for a pilot — but it is an incredibly user-friendly feature that makes it that much easier to quickly set the correct date after the watch has been idle for a few days.
The dial is in a classically designed, three-register style. It’s bordered by a white-printed railroad-style minute ring, whose slightly matte finish contrasts nicely with the main dial. The hour numerals are applied and executed in a large and legible Arabic font, with silvery outlines framing luminous-treated interiors. Each numeral — as well as the subdials that supplant the “3,” “6,” and “9” — is accompanied by a diamond index, with its own luminous center and aligned with the 10-minute marks on the outer track, presumably to ensure easier reading of the chronograph seconds. The pointed baton/sword hands are also luminous; in classical chronograph style, the minutes hand is substantially larger, so there’s no mistaking hours for minutes even at a glance.
The subdials are slightly indented, silver-framed like the hour numerals, and bear a subtle snailed texture that offers contrast with the shiny surface of the main dial on which they’re staged. The 30-minute chronograph counter is at 3 o’clock, the 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, and the running seconds at 9 o’clock. These subdials’ functions are subtly but emphatically differentiated by the use of red-tipped, diamond-ended hands for the two chronograph readouts and a simple white stick hand for the seconds. The central chronograph seconds hand is designed in the same manner as the stopwatch subdial hands, albeit longer. The use of red not only ties the chronograph elements together in an aesthetically pleasing way; it also adds a splash of contrasting color to the blue-white-silver totality of the watch. The three subdials form a “V” shape that frames the stacked elements at the top: a classic Longines logo, the brand’s winged hourglass emblem, a white-printed “CHRONOMETER” notation, and the row of five applied stars that are a hallmark of the Spirit collection, used by Longines historically to denote the “five-star” quality of the watch’s movement.
That movement is hidden inside the Spirit Chronograph, behind a steel caseback that is solid, slightly convex, affixed with six sunken screws, and decorated with an engraving of the Longines winged hourglass over a globe and an etched ring with various stats about the watch. To be totally honest, I would have preferred a sapphire caseback that displayed the movement, but Longines’ reasons for employing this type of more traditional caseback are valid, both to keep the price down as well as to call back those early 20th century aviators’ watches that inspired this modern collection.
The Longines Caliber L688.4 (based on the ETA A08.L01, and modified specially for Longines) thus does its job efficiently behind the scenes. As is indicated on the dial, this version of the self-winding movement boasts a COSC chronometer certification, ensuring its reliability and accuracy; a column-wheel architecture for the smooth operation of its integrated chronograph functions; and a 60-hour power reserve, which enables the wearer to pick up the watch after a weekend on the dresser and resume wearing it without winding it up. Also contributing to the timekeeping accuracy and long-tern stability is an antimagnetic silicon balance spring.
The 1:1 best replica Longines Spirit Chronograph watch that I had the pleasure of wearing and reviewing is mounted on a soft calfksin leather strap, in a shade of blue that complements the dial, enhanced with white contrast stitching. In this element again, we find a harmonious marriage of vintage and modern: an early 20th-century pilot would almost certainly have worn his (or her; props to Ms. Earhart) watch on this type of sturdy, stitched leather strap, but the use of blue rather than traditional brown or black makes its distinctly contemporary and dressy. The watch is also available on a steel link bracelet for an even more elegant overall look. It’s priced on the strap at a very tempting $3,100, so you don’t even need to dig too deep to soar to the pinnacle (in my view) of this high-flying collection.
There are many ways to sell replica watches in the modern world. Some brands focus on the product refinement itself. Some brands rely entirely on their name to shift unit after unit. Others lean on explosive novelty to disrupt the industry and create a stir. Perhaps the best, and certainly the most sustainable route to success, is to take on board all three possibilities and create a sufficiently different product of excellent quality, backed up by a remarkable story. This year, we’ve seen a great many examples of this triple-pronged strategy from cheap fake Longines. In fact, the most surprising thing about this is just how straightforward the brand has made it look…
A gift, generations in the making
What Longines copy has in its locker is impossible to synthesize. History. Heritage. A track-record for excellence and innovation that modern brands cannot hope to match. And it isn’t just about time served at the top of a brutally competitive industry. In truth, it comes down to timing. During which era the most established extant brands first thrived or rose to prominence is more important than the year of foundation.
Longines made its hay in the era of exploration. In the early part of the 20th century, the brand was quick to attach itself to humankind’s greatest endeavors. Although founded way back in 1832 (in Saint-Imier, Switzerland), Longines’ glory days came during the 1920s and ’30s, with the invention of the world’s first high-beat (36,000vph) pocket watch, the rotating bezel for wristwatches, and the world’s first flyback chronograph. These inventions came within a blistering seven-year period for the brand, putting it firmly on the map.
Mapping their own path
And around that time, Longines was becoming more and more associated with the spirit of adventure. Famed aviator, Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic in 1932, timing her journey with the help of a Longines chronograph. The year before, the daring Elinor Smith had set a new women’s record for altitude, reaching the dizzying heigh of 32,576ft while wearing a swiss movement replica Longines timepiece.
Amazingly, Smith’s first attempt at breaking the record nearly cost her her life (as Earhart’s continued pursuit of excellence eventually did). Around 26,000ft into the climb, Smith’s plane’s engine cut-out and she lost consciousness as the plane nose-dived towards the Earth.
20,000ft into the freefall, with 6,000 valuable feet separating her was almost certain death, she came to. Miraculously, she was able to wrestle the plane under control and land safely in Long Island. Unperturbed, she tried again, with success. Such pioneering spirit has come to typify the Longines brand. The new luxury fake Longines Spirit Collection (which we have written about extensively on Fratello) was created to honor these values.
Old and new frontiers
It wasn’t just airplanes and their pilots that were home to Longines’ instruments. In the 1920s and ’30s, the famous Zeppelin Captain, Hans von Schiller was known to rely upon the Saint-Imier brand’s products. Von Schiller traveled around the world in his 236-meter airship, guided on his journey by his trusted Longines companions.
With his feet firmly on the ground, Paul-Emile Victor was a different kind of Longines-wearing adventurer. Rather than soaring above the clouds in tranquil solitude, Victor preferred exploring the furthest-flung regions of Earth’s landmasses, fraternizing with those he met along the way.
Victor used perfect clone Longines watches to aid in his navigation as he fearlessly explored the poles. Undertaking more than 150 missions and even living with the Inuit people for a time, Victor was a special kind of explorer with a human touch. On more than occasion, he made it clear that his Longines watches had been the difference between success and failure.
Among the many things that make modern living great (hot running water, antibiotics, fashionable sweatpants) the ability to get on a plane and fly anywhere in the world – travel restrictions notwithstanding – is a biggie. In the 1930s, however, air travel was still a highly experimental form of transportation, and the pioneers who flew those planes had more in common with old time-y explorers than they did with the airline pilots of today. In the days before GPS, an accurate watch was essential to this dangerous job, and Longines made some of the best ones on the market. Nearly a century later, Longines remains a heavy hitter in the watchmaking game, and they haven’t lost their connection to those early days of aviation. Their new Spirit collection pays homage to the great pilots of yore in these three watches, which combine classic skyfaring looks with 21st century Swiss mechanical movements. Shearling jacket is optional.
Longines Spirit L3.810.4.53.0 Replica
Watches have come a long way since the 1930s, but the best designs of that decade still carry a lot of weight. For proof, check out this edition of the Longines Spirit, a luxury Swiss timepiece whose details come directly from the greatest pilot watches of the swing era. This classic three-hand calendar watch features big white numerals, diamond hour markers and “baton” shaped hands against a matte black dial, a powerful but understated combination designed to go with pretty much anything in your wardrobe. Subtler still are the pronounced step around the bezel, the vintage font and the red-tipped seconds hand, all of which you’ll appreciate more the longer you wear it. Inside the Spirit’s polished steel case (sized at a Goldilocks-approved 40mm) is a self-winding mechanical movement that, like every model in the Spirit lineup (and most of the best watches in the world), is chronometer certified by the COSC, the gatekeepers of Swiss watchmaking accuracy. Paired with a contrast-stitched brown calfskin strap, this watch is the definition of classic style-meets modern substance.
Longines Spirit L3.822.214.171.124 Replica
Along with dark indigo denim, a slim navy blazer and a pair of minimalist white low-tops, few things in your wardrobe are going to work as hard for you as a three-hand steel watch on a steel bracelet. This edition of the Longines Spirit is such a watch, with dynamism that goes even further with two additional straps. The Prestige Edition includes an additional NATO strap as well as a leather strap that can easily be changed using Spirit’s quick-release mechanisms. All of this is packaged in an exclusive box that profoundly displays the Longines Spirit logo. Like all of the watches in the Spirit lineup, this one takes its styling cues from the iconic Longines pilot’s watches of the 1930s (the oversized screw-down winding crown, for one, is big enough to be operated with gloves on – perfect for unheated cockpits, but just as good for chilly winter streets.) At 42mm wide, this wears slightly larger than the 40mm model, giving you more room for the textured silver dial and vintage-inspired numerals to really pop. Like the 40mm model, this Spirit is powered by a self-winding automatic movement with a 64-hour power reserve, meaning you can keep it in a drawer for the weekend without having to reset the time. Not that you’d want to. Much like your favourite jeans and white kicks, this is a watch that’s made to be worn every day.
Longines Spirit Chronograph L3.8126.96.36.199 Replica
Chronographs – that is, watches with built-in stopwatch timers – were essential navigation tools for pilots in the days of leather hats and goggles, but their appeal hasn’t faded one bit in the smartphone era. Looking at the Longines Spirit chronograph, it’s not hard to see why. With three subdials set symmetrically around Longines’ winged hourglass logo, a blue sunray dial and a trio of mechanical pushers at 10, 2 and 4, it looks every bit like the precision instrument it is. Powering this 21st century mechanical chronograph is an appropriately modern automatic movement. It’s equipped with a silicon balance spring, an extremely thin coil that ensures constant and precise timekeeping, whether you’re at the stick at 30,000 feet or dreaming of white sandy beaches at your desk. As sturdy and functional as it is, however, the Spirit’s details – silvered sandblasted hands coated in glowing SuperLuminova, a case that’s alternately polished and sandblasted for optimal visual impact – reveal it as the finely-crafted luxury item it is. Looks, performance and style? Check, check and check. You are now ready for takeoff.
For those wondering what that reference number stands for, it equates to a blue dial and a metal bracelet. In my opinion, this is the most handsome iteration of the new collection, but my favorite feature is one shared by all the Swiss fake Longines Spirit models. You’ve probably seen it already, but let’s take a few minutes to focus on its uncommon harmony. I’m talking, of course, about the interaction between the seconds hand and the minuterie encircling this stunning blue sun-ray.
Longines Spirit L3.8188.8.131.52
This new Longines Spirit fake with blue dial collection looks a bit subdued from a distance. It’s hard to really appreciate how satisfyingly balanced the design of these undeniably humble pieces is until you get them in hand. In our previous articles covering the Spirit collection, we’ve seen comments range from effusive praise to damning criticism. Of the latter, a common jibe I’ve heard tossed these watches’ way is that they are boring. I get the sentiment, I really do. Timeless design is often seen as boring in the first instance.
But, invariably, the good designs slowly start to grow on their observer. The elements’ integration slowly becomes more apparent over time. These watches are simple, yes. Boring? I don’t think so. Surprisingly nuanced in their design? In my opinion, yes. And the success of this unusually dextrous execution begins with the tip of that seconds hand.
The queen of diamonds
If you’ve ever put pen to paper in pursuit of designing a watch, you will notice a few things very quickly. Firstly, circles are everywhere. You will find yourself drawing countless rings within and overlapping one another as you try to figure out the correct alignment and scale for all of the dial furniture. Once you’ve figured out where you want the dial elements to go, you can ask yourself about the third dimension — how tall do you want these elements to be? Should they all sit flat, or would a little bit of depth be nice?
Secondly, you must account for the interaction of moving components. I.e. where do the hands fall? What do they point at? How do they engage with one another as they pass over or under their fellow indicators? Are they styled in a way that links them to the dial? Do they directly interact with any existing dial element? These are some of the questions you must ask yourself while designing hands. Although hands may seem like a pretty simple component, they are very easy to get wrong, and perilously difficult to get right.
In search of perfection
I have a real bugbear with most handsets. Very often, the minute hand entirely obscures the hour hand when it passes over it. Here we see the hour hand is a little fatter than the minute hand (which is common) and so it can not be obscured during daylight hours, however, as these hands are lumed it is clear this watch has been designed to be used at night or at least in low light conditions. In such conditions, the hour hand would, once an hour, be fully obscured by the minute hand. This could be easily solved by a cut-out towards the base of the minute hand but few brands take this route for some reason.
That gripe aside, the Longines Spirit copy with steel bracelet hour and minute hands perform their job admirably in daylight and sufficiently in the darkness. But the star of the show (or the diamond, should I say) is that seconds hand. Now, aside from its beautiful red tip, the seconds hand design is particularly satisfying for a few reasons.
Firstly, and most obviously, the red diamond tip is sizde to pass over and obscure the five-minute diamonds that reside on the dial’s lowest level. These five-minute markers intersect the elevated minute track to create a biting link between the two tiers. Given that the diamond tip of the seconds hand is lumed, it effectively “replaces” the lumed diamond on the dial whenever it passes over one such marker. It does this 12 times per minute, which results in a weirdly compelling light show, watching these diamonds relay their way around the dial.
Perhaps better still, is the way the diamond’s “edges” or “side points” follow the chamfer that separates the raised minuterie from the main dial. This kind of thoughtful interplay of shapes is rare. And if it sounds like I’m going overboard here, just take a few moments to watch our Longines Spirit video showing the seconds hand in action. I really stand by how satisfying it is.
The version of the Swiss movement Longines Spirit L3.8184.108.40.206 replica watch that I have here, comes with the stainless steel bracelet. The lug-width is 21mm, so you can also swap with a nice leather strap or NATO strap without much problems. The stainless steel bracelet is comfortable and solid. A triple folding clasp ensures it stays put during the day. This version with the bracelet is perhaps less “vintage” looking than the one on the leather strap, but a bracelet has its advantages. It comes in handy when you like to take a swim with it, as the watch is water-resistant to 100 meters.