The prodigal son has returned. Sort of.
I once owned a Longines Legend Diver (LLD) – the version with date display. I traded it toward a grail. That was a good move, but I missed the LLD since then. Recently, I had an opportunity to acquire a no-date Longines Legend Diver (L3.674.4.56) at an incredible price, brand new. I mean, it was an unbelievable deal. Here is a sort of blended review of my original LLD and my new no-date LLD.
The strange thing is that my no-date version seems to be discontinued, although there are conflicting blogs and posts on this subject. In any case, it is not on Longines website. How funny – I started with the date version to end up with the discontinued no-date version…
The LLD is one of the coolest timepieces out there and I was nuts about it from the first time I saw it online. It is a modern tribute to a 1960’s Longines diving watch. Surprisingly, it is the same 42 mm size as the original, but it uses an ETA 2824-2 movement whereas the original LLD used a Longines in-house movement. I am not at all, a vintage guy. But I am crazy about retro diver pieces. And while the LLD is no JLC Deep Sea, it is a mere fraction of the price. For me, the retro diver is beautiful combination of dressy elegance and sporty style. Being retro makes it dressy and being a retro DIVER gives it a sporty character. Cool, cool, cool. The LLD, of course, has two crowns, which adds to the sporty flavour although I consider it a dress watch.
If you Google or YouTube LLD reviews, you will see that the biggest complaint is the strap. Take it from me – this is nonsense. I wore my original LLD on the beach and in the pool during a 10-day vacation and the strap was fine. No issues. I got some sunscreen marks on the underside, but the fabric strap was fine for ocean, pool, beach, etc. In fact, the LLD strap was a main factor when I originally purchased the watch. It is very thin, but soft and comfortable and very elegant. And check out the buckle! Class! A salesman once told me that the Longines winged hourglass logo means, ‘Le temps s’écoule, le temps s’en vole’, which means, ‘time runs out, time flies.’ COOL! Ultra cool! I have read that the Longines logo is the oldest patented logo in the world. Super cool! These marketing factors are huge for me. Huge! This is the stuff I buy into when I buy a timepiece.
The 42mm case seems just right for this style of piece. I am used to much larger pieces, but you can’t go much bigger for a retro piece. I have seen photos of myself wearing my original LLD and the piece looked nice on my wrist – even from far. I love the caseback – it has a cool frogman on the back, in relief on the steel. It just looks so cool, retro and utilitarian. The domed sapphire is superb. Let’s not focus too much on the dial – you can see the photos. My only comment is that the sweeping seconds hand is not very legible because its colour blends in with the dial. For sure, I prefer the no-date version. Having no date gives the dial much better symmetry. And not having a date is so much less hassle when setting the time. The rotating inner bezel is neat, but of no real value to me, although a locking inner bezel is better than a rotating outer bezel that gets knocked easily.
Performance? My original LLD used to gain about 13-15 seconds per day. Not great at all – even for this modest price range. My new LLD seems to be gaining around 12 seconds per day. Once again – not great. In fact, both LLD have had about the worst accuracy of any mechanical piece I have owned. But I guess it is OK from a practical point of view. I am unlikely to wear the LLD more than 2 or 3 times in a week except when I am on vacation, so if it gains 30 seconds or so after a couple of days, it is no big deal. For vacation, I will set it 2 minutes slow and let it catch up over the duration of the holiday. The stated power reserve is 38 hours, but I often left my original LLD for a day, and then picked it up the following day and it was still ticking. No problems. So the overall performance is just acceptable – not great, but I can live with it.
So now we have established that the LLD is cool, elegant, perfectly suited to use in pools and oceans, while carrying a very modest price tag. But how does it FEEL to wear an LLD?
Adam recently wrote a review of the Hamilton Pan Europ. He wrote about the joy factor, the fun factor – the FEELINGS inspired by the piece and this is KEY with the Longines Legend Diver. I feel COOL when I wear it. I feel hip. I feel different. The LLD looks different to other watches. It has a style and a character. I think it might be the hipster of wristwatches. It’s not cheap by most people’s standards (i.e. muggles) but it’s nowhere near Rolex or IWC levels. It pulls off the vintage style with a real trendiness. Have you ever seen Gattaca? This is one of my all-time favourite movies. Gattaca is set in the future, but the men wear trenchcoats and fedoras and the electric cars look like 50’s and 60’s cars. It’s what I call modern vintage and I love this style. The LLD makes me feel like Gattaca – futuristic in a retro sort of way. I really wanted the LLD to wear with business suits and French cuff shirts, but I can rock it with shorts and flip-flops. With such a cool, hip character, the LLD can hold its own in a collection of much more expensive timepieces.
So there you have it. Affordability. Practicality. Uniqueness. Style. Elegance. Unimpressive mechanical performance. But big time character. And the BOX!!! I almost forgot! The only watch box that I’ve seen that tops this one is a limited edition Panerai box. The LLD comes with an enormous wooden box with a superb Longines outer box. The box set contains a special book and the LLD name is displayed on a plaque inside the box. Awesome stuff. I took the box home and waited for the right moment for a ceremonial unboxing. I really felt like I was opening a high end piece. Once again – feelings.
Purchasing a mechanical timepiece is such an irrational thing to do that it’s really all about feelings and experience. And this is where the LLD scores its points. If you don’t have a Rolex budget but you want to treat yourself to a real special experience, you should acquire a Longines Legend Diver. Good luck – I hear there are waiting lists at many dealers. Of course, the fun is always in the search…