When Charles Lindbergh made the first solo non-stop North Atlantic flight in 1927, he wore a Longines strapped to his wrist. His co-pilot that day was Amelia Earhart but, unsatisfied with being a mere sidekick, she piloted her own historic solo flight across the Atlantic five years later, becoming the first woman to do so in the process. Her wrist-wear of choice? A Longines chronograph. And when in 1938, Howard Hughes broke the record for the fastest around-the-world flight (three days, 19 hours and 14 minutes), Longines timed the flight and kitted out his Lockheed 14 N Super with their chronometers and chronographs.
You get the picture; Longines have a long sky-faring heritage, with their DNA clothed in a shearling jacket and flying helmet. Released a couple of years ago, the Spirit collection extends that high-flying legacy, combining vintage design cues with all the contemporary technology of a pilot’s watch. Until now, the only thing missing from the Spirit line-up was a GMT complication to offer jet-setting types the ability to read a second timezone at a glance. The Longines Spirit Zulu Time now fills that gap with a sub-collection of six different watches, their colourful name referring to some rare 1920s pieces that were the brand’s first to feature a second time-zone.
These new arrivals essentially build on the 42mm architecture of the standard Spirit watches, while bringing in some welcome additional features. Globetrotters will certainly have no complaints about the GMT hand on the dial and the inclusion of a bi-directional 24-hour bezel that enables them to track an additional third time zone. A less noticeable but also pleasing tweak is the new position of the date window that shifts from three to six o’clock, a less obtrusive spot that improves the overall symmetry.
Those key difference aside, the dial sticks to the Sprit formula with the bold Arabic numerals liberally daubed with Super-Luminova and gold-polished hands offering the easy legibility a pilot’s watch demands. Under the bonnet, the watch is powered by a first-class automatic movement that’s chronometer-certified and offers a power reserve of 72 hours.
The Zulu Time is offered with a choice of three dials in matte black, sunray blue, or “sandblasted anthracite” – grey, essentially. Each comes with a matching coloured bezel, except for the anthracite that uses a fetching olive tone instead. More options come in your choice of fastening with the Zulu Time presented on either a matching steel bracelet or leather strap.
Being ultra-versatile can often translate to being a little bland, but that’s not the case here. Longines have delivered a go-anywhere, do-anything watch with bags of functionality that will dress up or down with zero fuss. Reasonably priced for a Swiss-made GMT and backed by a serious movement, this is a watch that feels robust yet polished. If you’re heading on an overseas trip, it’s hard to argue against the Zulu Time as a smart choice for a travel companion you won’t tire of.