It’s winter in New York City and you’re at Pegu Club. Or maybe Milk & Honey before it moved uptown. Either way, no one knows you’re here. Miles Davis’s “So What” fills the room just enough to blanket the silence. The lounge is barely lit, so dim that it feels like the only light in the entire room glows from the candle on your table. You’re finished for the day, so you loosen your tie, unfasten your shirt’s top button and let out a deep sigh. When you reach for your cocktail–something with whiskey–you catch a candlelit glimpse of a quintessential Post-War dress watch peeking at you from underneath your French cuff. In that moment just before your glass touches your lips, you’re suspended somewhere between now and 1959.
I recently spent a lot of quality time with the Longines Conquest Heritage, and it’s so true to its former 1950s self that every time I put it on I feel like I belong in another time and place with cufflinks, a stiff drink and jazz filling the room. Drawing on inspiration from early to mid-20th century, the Heritage line is about reincarnating Longines’s colossal watchmaking history in today’s luxurious forms. This particular model pays homage to the original Conquests manufactured during a golden era for Longines specifically and Swiss watches in general. When Longines released the Conquest in 1954, it was the top of the line watch to own from the brand’s collection, featuring an in-house caliber 19a automatic movement. In 1959, Longines released the Conquest with the 29x caliber that boasted a more efficient winding mechanism and a date at the 12 o’clock position, a symmetrical and novel placement. And it’s here that the contemporary Conquest Heritage picks up where it left off.
The new Longines Conquest Heritage offers a classic Post-War look but with all the niceties of modern watches. Aside from the larger scale and a slightly more accessible crown, the case mimics its ancestor down to the recreation of the lugs and bezel, the dial’s hands and markers, the placement of the date window, and heft and detail of the steel case back. In fact, it’s so true to the 1950s version that, at least on the outside, it’s almost like owning the original classic without any of the vintage maintenance hassle.
Case & Dial
While a 1950s Conquest would feature a case size of 36mm or smaller, that of the Conquest Heritage is a more contemporary 40mm stainless steel. My wrist is 6.75″ and the watch wears modestly. A 40mm watch like this appears like it would be lighter than it really is; however, when you pick up the watch, it’ll greet you with unexpected heft that speaks to the quality of its construction. Due to fierce competition among brands in the 1950s, watches from that era like the original Longines Conquest feature not only some of the most charming and charismatic designs but also boast exceptionally fine cases, and I think Longines was trying to build a watch that mimicked both the aesthetics and the craftsmanship of its ancestor. A slightly domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal protrudes proudly above the bezel, so you get a vintage profile with the modern protection of a scratch-resistant lens.
Down to the minutes track, luminous paint, and gilt dauphine hands and hour markers, the dial also bears incredible resemblance to the mid-century originals. Its silver sunray surface is beveled and slopes downward as it moves toward the bezel. As your eyes follow the grade, it’s likely that you’ll immediately notice the gilt and applied indices like bars of gold neatly arranged in a circle. Longines’s winged hourglass logo is applied to the dial, and you can see in the photo above that the logo appears to hover slightly. SuperLuminova paint on the hands and just below each hour marker increases nighttime visibility. The position of the date serves as a hat-tip to the innovative caliber 29x used in the late 1950s and early 1960s models.
Two-tone watches and jewelry are generally not my style, as I’m a stickler for consistency in metals I’m wearing. However, the gold markers on the silver dial quickly grew on me. Favoring gilt over more common electroplating is not only a historic and artisanal decision but results in a gold tone that is velvety soft in appearance and not unlike a rose gold. The softer tone looks great against the silver dial.
The screw down case back features the blue and gold medallion that adorned the back of its former self. In the 1950s, though, these medallions were made of 18K gold and inserted into a well in the case back that was precision machined. While the medallion in this case is painted and gold plated, it is sunken into the case back as you can tell by the slight gap between the medallion and the edge of the well.
Some of Longines finest manufacture calibers every made were used in the historic Longines Conquests. However, behind the steel case back of the recent Heritage model is Longines L633 movement, which utilizes a base caliber ETA 2824-2. It’s a reliable workhorse that lends to a slim profile appropriate for office and dress attire.
Style & Comfort
The Longines Conquest Heritage comes on a black alligator strap with a signed buckle. I really appreciate that the buckle uses a tang rather than a deployment mechanism, as I find the tangs to be more comfortable and certainly more characteristic of the time. As you can see in the photos, expect the Conquest to fit underneath even the tightest of cuffs. Its 40mm size, although larger than the original Conquest, is sized for today’s standards but is still tasteful. Like a lot of 1950s watches, the style of the Longines Conquest Heritage is versatile. It goes well with a t-shirt and jeans, but I absolutely love it with a dark suit. Alternatively, Longines does produce versions with black dials and gold cases, but the pricing varies depending on the case material.
The Final Word
Longines is a reliable brand for accessible luxury, but I could understand one’s concern about the cost. A retail price of $2,150 is generally a lot for an ETA 2824-2 movement, but the fit and finish on this piece is exceptional and you have to appreciate how well Longines stuck to its original script on this one. There is no corner cut in production, and you’ll instantly feel the quality of its construction once it’s on the wrist. The Conquest Heritage doesn’t just resemble its former mid-20th century self–it could honestly be mistaken for it. It’s a time machine on your wrist ready to transport you back to a heyday of Swiss watchmaking.
- Model: Longines Conquest Heritage Automatic #L16454754
- Case: 40mm stainless steel
- Dial: Silvered w/gilt applied indices and gilt dauphine hands
- Crystal: Sapphire, domed
- Case back: Solid w/Longines Conquest medallion
- Lug Width: 20mm
- Strap: Black alligator
- Movement: L633 (base caliber ETA 2824-2)
- Water Resistance: 30m
- Retail Price: $2,150