If you thought a dive watch needs chunky, rotating bezels to be authentic, you may be forgiven for not knowing that a rarer—and technically more advanced—kind, the Super Compressor, has existed for years as watchmaking's most rugged tool. In this world, the two crowns on the side of the case (one at two o'clock and one at four o'clock) define an altogether different beast.
The Super Compressor was all about the case, a development that used the very thing threatening the integrity of dive watches—the water pressure—to render it more waterproof. Effectively, the case back was spring-loaded so that as the pressure increased, the case seals were compressed against the mid-case and gasket. So the greater the water pressure, the more waterproof the watch. Clever, right?
Longines made the next clever move, putting the dive-timing turning bezel—quite fragile and shock-sensitive at the time—under the sapphire crystal, rather than on top of it. The watch featured two crowns, with the internal turning bezel operated by the first crown. This ingenious bit of mechanics not only reduced the chances of the bezel being accidentally, and perilously, nudged during a dive, but also resulted in a sleek and modern aesthetic in the bargain.
In 1959, the brand adapted the technology to create what would become the iconic Longines Legend Diver. Now, inspired by that innovative model, Longines has just launched the Legend Diver for the first time in a 39mm size and in blue or black dial configurations. Also available are 36mm and 42mm versions. Strap configurations include a stainless steel bracelet, brown calfskin, and blue nylon in a NATO style.
The modern Longines Legend Diver carries many of the hallmarks of the classic version, down to the internal bezel, twin crowns, and dial graphics. Back then, a 42mm watch was on the large size, but after three decades of jumbo divers as the norm, 39mm is now considered the absolute sweet spot for style on the wrist without too much heft.
Where heft does show up—figuratively speaking—is in the movement, a modern, automatic Longines-exclusive L888.6 caliber with up to 72 hours of power reserve. It is also an independently tested chronometer, certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute and rated to ISO6425 (the professional dive-watch benchmark), as well as water-resistant to 300 meters' depth. That's a lot of mechanical wizardry in a very neat package, but also no shock: For Esquire, what has always made Longines special is that it goes the extra mile to deliver technical excellence and style, often at great prices, across multiple tool-watch disciplines.
Longines Legend Diver, in 39mm stainless steel, from $3,200. Longines.com
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