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The Longines Avigation BigEye L2.818.104.22.168 is the dream come true of every pilot watch enthusiast. It’s the first time I test the model from the Heritage Avigation collection. How does the aviator with the petrol blue dial perform?
The comeback of the historic pilot chronographs
The Swiss traditional brand Longines can look back on a long history in aviation. Since the early 20th century, the company has produced chronographs and pilot watches for military and civilian use, which now have iconic status. The fact that Longines is aware of its heritage is demonstrated, among other things, with the Heritage Avigation collection, whose award-winning models have been causing a stir for years. The special appeal lies in the design of the retro watches. Here, Longines draws on the important watches of its aviation history, so that you can recognize an “ancestor” from the first half of the 20th century in every single model.
The two BigEye models that Longines currently carries in its lineup go back to an aviation chronograph from the 1930s. Longines’ Avigation BigEye already bears its highlight in its name. The “big eye” is the visibly enlarged 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock.
However, those who know Longines should know that the wristwatches of the Swiss brand can do much more than just be the homage of a historical model. I was already able to see that with the Longines Spirit Chronograph L3.822.214.171.124. Now I wonder if this also applies to the Longines Avigation BigEye. Longines sent me the aviator model with a dial in exciting petrol blue and the reference number L2.8126.96.36.199 – perfect for a review and watch photography.
High-quality, functional, timeless – first impressions of Longines’ pilot’s watch.
“BigEye” fits to the totalizer at 3 o’clock, but not to the watch. At first glance, the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8188.8.131.52 is a pleasantly compact timepiece that doesn’t stand out for its huge dimensions. The case, which measures 41 millimeters in diameter, feels very high-quality and excellently crafted. Of course, you can expect that from a premium watch at a price of $3,225.00. The petroleum blue of the dial matches the brown leather strap perfectly, which stands out due to its robustness and thickness. Right away, I also like the large Arabic numerals, which underline the retro character of the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8184.108.40.206 with their warm hue.
But – retro look or not. It should be emphasized that the historical character of the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8220.127.116.11 does not get out of hand. The timepiece comes across very reduced and straightforward, as is typical for pilot watches, so that it seems timeless rather than out of time. And that’s a good thing.
The Longines Avigation BigEye L2.818.104.22.168 on the wrist
Functionality and sportiness are not bad qualities. This is especially true for business, where the men’s watch proves to be the perfect companion on the wrist. With its blue dial, matte surfaces and brown leather strap, the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.822.214.171.124 exudes calm and seriousness. In this context, the size of the pilot’s watch is also important to me. A very large diameter is often too thick – a problem that can be avoided with the BigEye.
Hobby pilots are well equipped with the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8126.96.36.199 in the cockpit. Of course, modern navigation devices have replaced wristwatches in aviation. However, the dial still offers some useful information. More about that later. Visually, the Longines Avigation BigEye is also a real highlight in “action”.
A case made of high-tech materials
While the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8188.8.131.52 looks to the past when it comes to design, it already uses the technologies of tomorrow when it comes to the choice of materials for the case. Instead of conventional stainless steel, Longines has opted for groundbreaking titanium. Titanium has three key advantages. It is lightweight, flexible and at the same time incredibly resistant. For example, the case protects the inner workings from impacts and shocks. The scratch-resistant surfaces guarantee that the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8184.108.40.206 will look like new for years to come. And if that weren’t enough, the aviator chronograph is incredibly lightweight thanks to titanium. This guarantees a comfortable wear! The mix of matte and polished surfaces visually ensures the straightforward and noble look.
The Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8220.127.116.11 shows its attention to detail on the back. It’s shiny and six-screw caseback is adorned with an engraved silhouette of a historic airplane. This engraving is a successful detail in my opinion. The Longines lettering and outline are neatly engraved. You can also read the water resistance value here. A maximum water pressure of 3 bar does not make the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.818.104.22.168 a diver’s watch, but water splashes are no problem.
On the front, classic domed sapphire crystal covers the petroleum blue dial. And since design is secondary to functionality, it’s hardly surprising that Longines has enhanced the watch crystal with several(!) anti-reflective layers. This not only looks much higher quality, but also guarantees optimal readability – especially important in the cockpit and under strong sunlight.
What makes Longines’ movements so special…
Operating the movement and its numerous functions is no problem. On the contrary, it is very easy. No wonder, after all, even a gloved pilot must be able to adjust the pushers and crown while flying. All three controls are found on the right side. While the crown features the world-famous trademark winged hourglass, the haptic feedback of the polished pushers is first-class.
Longines also relies on the latest technology on the inside. Here, the Swiss manufacturer installs an L688 caliber. The self-winding mechanical movement is manufactured exclusively for Longines and offers a power reserve of approximately 66 hours! The automatic movement is also equipped with a silicon balance spring. Silicon is a lightweight, corrosion-resistant material that is unaffected by normal temperature fluctuations, magnetic fields, and atmospheric pressure. Its unique properties enhance the accuracy and longevity of a watch. As a column-wheel chronograph, the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.822.214.171.124 also features the familiar column or switching wheel. It ensures that starting, stopping and zeroing can be controlled independently of the movement. All three operations are performed via the pushers.
A “BigEye” and much more – the dial
The uncluttered dial promises best readability in any situation. Despite the three totalizers at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, the fact that it appears so unagitated and businesslike speaks for the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8126.96.36.199! The rather large Arabic numerals with their warm vintage cream tone stand out clearly against the petrol blue background, which I personally really like. In the dark, Longines relies on green Swiss Super-LumiNova® luminous material to make the dial shine.
Most interesting, in my opinion, though, are the useful functions of the subdials, whose size partially or completely cuts off the hour indices, but that’s not a bad thing. At 9 o’clock, you’ll find a small seconds subdial, which becomes helpful when using the central seconds for stop functions. Above 6 o’clock, a 12-hour indicator is placed. However, the most visually striking detail is the size of the “BigEye”, the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Its thick line indices show the time in 3-minute increments. As THE standout feature of the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8188.8.131.52, the “big eye” ensures a high recognition value. No other aviation chronograph looks so distinctive.
On the dial, the three totalizers take up a large part of the available space. Understandably, Longines has therefore omitted an additional date display. However, finding out the date should no longer be a problem in this day and age.
Leather for more wearing comfort
The Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8184.108.40.206 is rounded off by a sturdy brown strap made of high-quality calfskin. It is 20.00 millimeters thick at the lugs, which flow smoothly from the case. The wearing comfort is first class. In this respect, there is nothing better than wearing soft leather on your wrist! Almost plain and thus actually matching the watch is the pin buckle, which is also made of titanium.
My conclusion about the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.8220.127.116.11
With the Avigation BigEye L2.818.104.22.168, Longines achieves a remarkable balancing act. After being delighted by the historic-looking retro design at the outset, a closer look reveals that the Longines Avigation BigEye L2.822.214.171.124 is a modern and pioneering pilot’s chronograph. Components like the lightweight titanium case or the innovative movement are anything but historical. And that’s just as well.
In everyday life, the classic design lends itself to wearing the Avigation BigEye on your wrist anytime, anywhere. Whether at a meeting, in your free time or even in the cockpit – there are no limits to what you can do.
The recommended retail price is $3,225.00. The warranty is five years, as with all Longines models with silicon hairspring. Alternatively, the watch is also available with a black dial. All important links can be found below.