With such a rich and historic legacy, it’s no wonder that Swiss luxury watchmaker Longines takes inspiration from its storied past whilst forging into the future. The winged hourglass brand’s thriving heritage continues with the new Longines Pilot Majetek, a glorious update to its 1935 landmark timepiece that retains palpable retro underpinnings. Once crafted for aviators, the iconic watch’s audience widened over time, thanks to its seamless legibility, robust construction, intelligent detail, and consistent accuracy. Now, despite having been meticulously revised to meet the needs of modern wearers, we’re picking up all the right vintage vibes from Longines‘ update to this utterly distinctive timepiece.
A History of Exceptionalism
Longines crafted the original Pilot Majetek for the Czecheslovakian Air Force in 1935, making select models available to the wider public over the years that followed. Outsized by design, it featured a rotating fluted bezel so as to keep track of elapsed time. A subtle triangle-shaped indicator would appear on the 1937 model and offer yet another lasting mark of distinction. Under dark conditions, the Arabic numerals, triangle indicator, and cathedral hands burst to life with the legible glow of luminescent radium.
The original model was manufactured until 1948 and equipped with three different movements over the course of its production run. Housed in a cushion-shaped steel case, each movement was further protected by an unbreakable crystal with antimagnetic properties. Precise and powerful, the watch captured a high-flying spirit of adventure with the steadfast readability to match.
The Adventure Continues
No stranger to reissues, Longines have resurrected the Pilot Majetek for a new generation of collectors and enthusiasts. Features such as the oversized small seconds dial—which appears at 6 o’clock on the display—and bi-directional fluted bezel make direct call-backs to the 1935 original. The triangular “starting time indicator” at the perimeter likewise harkens back through time whilst also delivering a perfect touch of subtle detail. A cushion-shaped case of high-grade steel similarly evokes the adventurous spirit of the watch’s iconic predecessor.
However, don’t take all that retro flourish to mean that this handsome piece of wristwear gets lost in the past. Whereas the original 1935 iteration measured 40mm in diameter, the new variant cranks up the case size to a healthy 43mm. The display is legible and unfettered as it bridges two worlds, with white Arabic numerals denoting the hours, a railway minute marker, Rhodium-tipped baton hands, and the triangular “starting time indicator” at the perimeter. When darkness falls, Super-LumiNova coating injects these dial features with a phosphorescent glow to ensure maximum readability.
On the mechanics front, the Longines Pilot Majetek certainly doesn’t slouch. Even as it moves beyond the world of aviation to reach a wider audience, the piece carries forth a built-in DNA of supreme performance and reliability. Chronometer-certified by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), it runs on an in-house calibre L893.6 with a magnetically-resistant silicon balance spring. This exclusive movement beats at a rate of 25’200 vibrations per hour, delivers a 72-hour power reserve, and comes protected by sapphire glass with multi-layered anti-reflective coating on both sides. Sealing the deal is either a two-stitch leather strap in brown or green or a NATO-style strap of recycled polyester fibre.
Putting history and specs aside, all it takes is one look at the new Pilot Majetek to pick up on its uniquely enduring sensibility. The watch has been redesigned to meet contemporary standards but its signature details—such as the highly legible numerals, small seconds subdial, cushion-shaped case, fluted bezel, and triangular indicator—cultivate a perfect retro aesthetic. This is a bold and streamlined piece that doesn’t scream modernity as much as it proves that certain design choices never go out of style. With Longines’ Pilot Majetek, the timeless spirit of adventure is alive and well indeed.