When Longines announced their new Spirit Collection, Charles Lindbergh – perhaps the world’s most famous pilot and an avid user of Longines timepieces – was not on the list of famous pilots featured for this release. Instead we got Amelia Earhart, Paul-Emile Victor, Elinor Smith, and Howard Hughes – all of whom also trusted Longines timepieces during their aviation triumphs.
I and my four siblings attended Charles A. Lindbergh Elementary School in Kenmore, NY. Just weeks before Longines released the Spirit Collection, my sister Martha wrote to our family’s text group asking if we knew that Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathizer. Some of us knew, some didn’t, and before long my family had more or less agreed that the school should change its name to Amelia Earhart Elementary School.
Given the timing, I thought the press release from Longines was a rather interesting coincidence, so I decided to ask Longines why they had excluded Lindbergh. After a somewhat soft answer about him already receiving enough recognition, I asked Longines directly if Lindbergh’s antisemitism was the reason for excluding him. Here is what Longine’s wrote back:
“It should be acknowledged that Lindbergh was a man of complex character. He rose to popularity in the 1930s when he was associated with Longines, and then caused controversy due to his nationalist views, antisemitism and his refusal to go to war with Germany. These facts have been publicly recognized for years. Longines has always focused on Lindbergh’s accomplishments and watches; and not on the person himself.”
Longines, in my opinion, is handling this somewhat delicate topic with a measure of grace. The Swiss company isn’t erasing Lindbergh from their history, but they do shun the man to a degree. For example, there’s no mention of Lindbergh himself on the page dedicated to the Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle watch, and the text there celebrates the technology, not the man. I believe this is what genuine reconciliation looks like: one incorporates the bad actors into an accurate historical account, and, simultaneously, points the spotlight on the good actors. Full erasure is neither possible, truthful, nor healthy.
Dusting off my cultural theory, I am reminded of Jaques Derrida’s concept of trace in which (to simplify) a term or phrase implies its opposite (e.g., cold implies the absence of heat). By celebrating Earhart, Victor, Smith, and Hughes, we sense the trace of Lindbergh. In a phrase, Lindbergh’s absence from the Spirit Collection campaign is not only conspicuous; it’s also meaningful.
And kudos to Longings for getting the gender balance to 50/50 with the Spirit Collection heroes. And, yes, The Spirit Collection campaign rings with special clarity here in 2020 as notions of white power sweep the Land of Stars & Stripes under Trump’s vastly troubling and divisive presidency.
Now onto the watches…
Time & Date
- 40mm or 42mm
- Silver, black or blue dial
- COSC-certified Calibre L888.4 movement (“in-house” ETA base) with 65-hours of power reserve
- CHF 2,000 (40mm), CHF 2,100 (42mm), CHF 2,600 (40mm Prestige Edition with extra straps) CHF 2,700 (42mm Prestige Edition)
- Black, silver, or blue dial
- COSC-certified Calibre L688.4 – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, date, tri-compax chronograph
- Price: CHF 2,900
Longines Heritage Collections are massive favorites among watch aficionados. We haven’t had these new models in hand yet, but there’s no question as to the value that all of Longines’ Heritage pieces have had – and we’ve had many of those in hand. Here are some features that jump out from the new Spirit Collection.
Why people love to hate on chronometer certification is beyond me. The whole point of a mechanical watch has always been precision timekeeping, so why not covet the most precise timepieces? And to be getting into COSC-certification at these prices point is nothing to scoff at.
Classic Style, Novel Mash-Ups
These are tasty pilot’s watches, not direct recreations of a specific model, but mash-ups of the best features from vintage Longines pilots watches from the early days of aviation.
Screw-down crowns, boatloads of anti-reflective coating on the sapphire crystals, a-magnetic materials in the movement, and water resistance of 100-meters adds up to watches you can trust in any setting.
That’s a lot of watch for the money, isn’t it? We’re just below $3k for the chronograph with a COSC-certified movement, and it’s hard to find a comparison in this price range from a major brand.
Celebrating The Righteous
Many historical Swiss brands still operating today struggle with their relationship to the Nazis. There were existing contracts with the German military that were not only legally binding once Hilter’s Reich began to take over Euorpe, but which these brands depended on to sustain themselves and keep their workers employed. This is no excuse for equipping the wrong side of WWII, but when we add in Switzerland’s bid for neutrality during the war, it’s easy to see how this small nation with a minuscule military surrounded by Axis countries on all sides fell into supplying both sides of the war. Again, no excuse, but that is what happened.