Back in Black: Hands-on with the Longines Heritage Classic Black “Sector Dial”

Few brands have seen as much sustained success with their vintage-inspired designs as has Longines. With a slew of recent additions to retro-chic Heritage collection — among them the Heritage Classic Chronograph 1946Heritage Military 1938, and Heritage Classic Tuxedo — the Saint-Imier based brand has built upon its long history to enhance its contemporary appeal.

In the past year, whether as a result of changing consumer tastes or a reduced pool of historical designs to draw from, Longines has noticeably shifted its focus, from faithfully re-creating vintage designs to launch new models to revisiting previously released models with new materials and colorways. We first witnessed this in launch of the Heritage Legend Diver in bronze in fall of 2020, followed by the Avigation BigEye in titanium a few months later. At the start of this summer, the brand released its latest model in this vein, the new Heritage Classic Black “Sector Dial,” a 1930s-inspired time-only watch that follows up the successful silver-dial edition launched in 2019. Recently, we had an opportunity to go hands-on with the timepiece.

At first glance, the new black-dialed edition has much of the same intrigue as its silver-dialed predecessor, with its simple brushed steel case serving as a simple canvas for the fascinating dial that gives the watch its name and serves as its undisputed main draw. The overall look is formal and dressy but versatile, the sectored layout of the brushed outer area contrasting wonderfully with the matte inner portion and engine-turned, indented small seconds scale. Printed silver markers produced in a vintage style are put to effective use for each hour and minute position, in elegant parallel with the small seconds counter that features a similar aesthetic. A pair of elongated stick hands serves to count the passing hours and minutes, sweeping steadily over a vintage Longines logo.

On the wrist, the 38.5-mm by 11-mm steel case feels comfortable and balanced, with slim, slightly curved lugs characteristic of vintage styling; a sturdy, deeply toothed crown; and a flat bezel rather than the more common rounded styles found in similar models. The watch we had in for review was secured to the wrist by a “cognac” leather strap with a simple pin buckle, which was easily the least impressive part of the watch. Longines does additionally offer the option of a beads-of-rice-style steel bracelet for the 30-meter water-resistant watch, which would likely complement its mostly formal look a bit better.

Opposite the sector dial under its sapphire crystal is a solid, laser-engraved caseback that protects the movement with what appears to be a snap closure. Behind it, the Longines Caliber L893 resides, the automatic mechanism based upon the A31.501. The 26 jewel movement beats at an uncommon frequency of 25,200 vph, and features a silicon balance spring and 72-hour power reserve.

Like many previous Longines Heritage collection models, the Classic Black “Sector Dial” recalls classic pieces from the past, in this case the so-called sector-dial watches from the 1930s, so named for their two-part designs. When it launched the original model in 2019, Longines placed its historical 1930s inspiration front and center alongside it (below, 2019 version right, vintage edition left), and has yet to provide such a direct comparison for this version. While black sector-dial watches were also produced during this era, it’s possible Longines may not have one in its archives that it could use as historical source material for the newer model.

Longines’ expansion of the sector-dial style seems to speak to a broader strategy for the Heritage collection — one of steadily shifting focus, from finding new vintage designs to reproduce, to instead recontextualizing existing designs with new colorways and materials. The brand has seemingly perfected the art of producing this style of watch for an interested and growing niche of buyers, after being one of the first watchmakers to embrace it, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down its focus on the category anytime soon.

The Longines Heritage Classic Black “Sector Dial” is available now at authorized boutiques and directly via Longines, priced at $2,350 on a steel bracelet and $2,150 on a leather strap.

To learn more, visit Longines, here.