Longines, who have in recent years balanced their popular Heritage Collection (to include the excellent Longines Legend Diver) with their more modern Sport and Elegance ranges, unveiled an updated version of their decade-old HydroConquest at this year’s Baselworld.
Longines’ most recent iteration of their modern sport diver is available in multiple case sizes, colors, and also as an automatic chronograph.
Most prominently, the new Longines HydroConquest is equipped with a new for 2018 ceramic bezel insert, a feature fast becoming a mainstay in modern Swiss diving watches.
In this Hands-On, we’ll dig into the 41mm version of the new HydroConquest to see if the new look and ceramic bezel add to Longines’ dependable design.
The mere fact that Longines have produced the HydroConquest for the last eleven years says something about public interest in the design. With the watch industry full to the brim with “vintage-inspired” models, especially diver’s watches, the HydroConquest has stood out as a piece which isn’t attempting to be anything other than a diver’s watch designed in and for the modern watch era, no faux-vintage lume needed or wanted. For me, that by itself is refreshing.
Other than color, the new Longines HydroConquest dial is much the same as before, with large lumed Arabic indices at twelve, six, and nine, minimal dial text, and a traditional date window at three o’clock. In fact, the only change I can find is the removal of the small trapezoidal applied elements, which previously sat just inside the lumed round hour markers. I’m glad they’re gone, as they didn’t do anything for me and made the dial appear a bit cluttered. The hands are also exactly the same as far as I can tell. Such small changes indicate Longines’ confidence in the HydroConquest as it already existed, and good for Longines for sticking to their guns.
The US exclusive versions of the watch have a few more updates, with “USA” printed at the dial’s perimeter between the four and five o’clock markers, a lumed ’50’ on the ceramic bezel insert for the 50 states, and a unique caseback. The US exclusive models are a limited release, with 1,000 total being produced, and also include new, color matched rubber NATO straps as an extra.
As the Rolex Submariner, Omega Planet Ocean, Bremont S500 and S2000, and so many other current Swiss watches indicate, ceramic bezel inserts are fast becoming the gold standard for “luxurious” dive watches. Ceramic as a bezel insert material adds depth and visual interest, increases perceived value, and legitimately adds to the durability and therefore functionality of a diver’s elapsed time bezel. On the new HydroConquest, the ceramic bezel is restrained in design and less busy than the previous aluminum insert. It has a very Rolex Submariner feel to it in terms of layout, and should make the already reasonably priced HydroConquest an even better buy for those on the fence.
For the perhaps few who might actually take the HydroConquest diving, a ceramic insert means a more durable diving watch. Even if scratched – and scratching ceramic is profoundly difficult – the minute markings should remain legible, ensuring the diver knows their elapsed time. That luxurious look and feel provided by ceramic, has made ceramic a near ubiquitous choice on new divers in a certain price range.
Viewed together, the updates to the new Longines HydroConquest are, other than the ceramic insert, minimal. Longines already liked the looks of their tried and true sport diver and have clearly tread carefully in terms of updating the design. The addition of a ceramic bezel does add a lot and certainly packs more value, and we anticipate price to be just around $1,500. The limited versions are, as you would expect, a bit more expensive at $1,800 for the stainless/blue dial configuration and $2,100 for the PVD/grey dial version. For those who already like the HydroConquest, the new watch is a refreshing update that doesn’t stray too far from the original design. In a sea of vintage reissue pieces, the Longines HydroConquest is a design of this century with plenty of modern appeal in a reasonably priced package.
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