Big military-grade watches weren't originally intended for us civilians. In Panerai's case, the iconic Radiomir was purpose-built for the Italian Navy in 1938 (perfect timing given they'd be very busy for the next few years). Bell & Ross, with its futuristic square dial, designed pieces relatively recently for the French air force. And Longines, that classic, all-rounder watch marque, once served France too, specifically its mid-20th century navy, with a very handsome watch indeed.
We don't fight wars in the same way anymore. It's all shouty Twitterbots and the cyber-assisted systematic demolition of democracy as we know it. But long before foreign diplomacy took to the internet, respected manufactures were offering up their military stock to civilians, and now, Longines has released its past arm cannon for the wider public too in the Heritage Military Marine Nationale.
It's not the brand's first rodeo. Longines released similar watches in the last year, like the Heritage Military 1938. But unlike such archival pieces, the Heritage Military Marine Nationale is a little softer, a little more under-the-radar, and for that, you can thank a quiet cognac leather strap and golden opaline dial that sits on the more casual end of Swiss watchery. These are the details that'll happily play wingman to your actual civvies, but inside, the Heritage Military Marine Nationale still packs all the craftsmanship you would expect from top end outfits.
Which means a pretty respectable 12.68N movement: a favourite of Longines that's powered a slew of pieces over the decades. In fact, vintage watch specialists on dedicated forums, the sort that find much pure joy in taking apart a movement and building it back up again, refer to the 12.68N as "the nicest movement I've worked on so far" and "a beautiful movement [that] runs, winds and sets well". Tall praise, especially from a tight-knit community that are inclined to really, properly lose it over a hairspring.
Available from mid-October, pre-orders are now officially open at longines.com for a price of £1,570. It'll be worth fighting for.
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