Longines has a great history in chronographs. They were the first to file a patent for the flyback chronograph, a development that enabled a quick reset of the chronograph hand to zero without fumbling around to stop and reset the function. Considered one of the holy grail’s of chronographs in its class, the 13ZN calibre today still remains one of the most beautiful, and most pricey to acquire.
In tribute to their 180th anniversary, Longines reached into the archives to re-release another chronograph in their Heritage collection, this one a Telemeter Chronograph produced in 1933. While lots of modern chronos still incorporate a tachymeter scale, few use a telemeter along with a tachymeter. The telemeter scale isn’t a function that you’ll ever really need. Still, it’s a nice piece of horologic history and makes for good party conversation.
First introduced in 1852, a telemeter measures the distance to an event that can be seen as well as heard. What is does is measure the speed of sound, which correlates to how far (or near) an event is. A great example of the telemeter’s practical application was during war time. When soldiers saw the flash of a cannon, they started the chronograph and stopped the timing once they heard the sound. The chrono hands position on the telemeter scale revealed the distance, usually in kilometers, between them and the enemy. The same can be done with a torpedo strike or with a jag of lighting and a thunderclap.
Updating the Chronograph Telemeter from 1933, Longines chose a modern-seized 41mm stainless steel case secured with a black alligator strap. Blued Breguet numerals circle a white lacquered dial, featuring black Arabic numerals, red telemeter and tachymeter scales with a 3, 6, 9 o’clock layout for the chronograph, and a date at 4:30. The addition of the tachymeter makes the dial too fussy for my taste. The circling scale might seem a cool way to incorporate the complication, but try reading it while you’re speeding down the highway.
Through the sapphire crystal caseback, you can see the column-wheel chronograph calibre L688. It’s made exclusively for Longines, and while it’s modified to include a column wheel, its still comes from a base Valjoux 7750. I’m glad Longines is still around but it’s always disappointing not to see the high quality of their manufactured movements of yesteryear. It would’ve been so cool if they had done a truly faithful re-edition of this watch. But then it would price the watch out of Longines’s current market positioning.