Longines has been on a crazy march as of late. We all know vintage is “hot right now”, and let's be honest, nobody has done it quite as well as Longines. This is especially true when it comes to the sub $5k price range. And no reference has proven to be such a smash hit with the collector community like the Longines Heritage Classic Sector. It is a sublime dress watch. It really is. The heritage reissue trend was in full flight 2019, when we first locked eyes with the first iteration of the Longines Classic Sector. Fast-forward to 2021 and Longines added a twist to the successful recipe, by offering it with a black dial and also the option of a vintage-style bracelet. The Longines Heritage Classic Sector Dial is the dark-dialed variant of the 2019 Heritage Classic release which had a silver dial inspired by a 1934 model. In this review, we will touch on the history of sector dials. And then move on to the two executions, and why we love them.
There are some design elements that are just perpetually popular in the world of watches - think blue dials and open case backs. Another which has been closing in on those two for popularity is a sector dial. Originally seen in pocket watches and deployed by makers such as Longines, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Patek Philippe in the 1910s, ’20s, and ’30s. Trench watches were even used by officers in the First World War and often had sector dials. They began appearing on wristwatches in the late 1920s or 1930s, enjoying a period of popularity until they faded from catalogs in the 1950s.
But what is it? Well, a sector dial is defined primarily by its concentric composition, meaning that the dial is formed by the relationship between two circles of differing sizes that share the same axis. The name "sector dial" comes from the markings on the dial that divide the sectors. Basically, the dial contains the hours and minutes inside concentric circles, with the hours further separated by markers. Aside from the simplicity this creates visually, there is just something truly elegant about the different finished and color grades on a sector dial.
The interesting juxtaposition is the assumption that sector dials have to be pricey. But the reality is that Longines took inspiration from a timepiece of its own from the 1930s and delivered a strikingly modern take on a sector design, without breaking the bank. The original incarnation rocks a striking two-tone silver dial with dark numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock and bold indexes at each hour in between. Above the lower seconds subdial sit slender blued steel hands and a subtly placed Longines logo, making the innermost circle appear considered and balanced. With a versatile 38.5mm steel case and gently angular lugs, it ticks all the boxes without shouting about it.
The release of this 2021 reference in its updated dial colorway does make you think - is there anything else from the 1930s that still looks good today? Still relevant? I am not sure I can.
While the sector layout is the start of the show - looking a little closer, the kerning of the strictly sans serif numerals at 12 is very contemporary - and a beautiful touch. The brushing of outer sections is simply stunning, and depending on the lighting, these sections can appear anywhere from a sharp grey to a warm brown. So what's inside? Well, its full name is the L893 automatic. Derived from the ETA A31.501, it has a silicon hairspring for anti-magnetic resistance and a healthy power reserve of 72 hours due, in part, to the slightly lower than average beat rate of 25200 vph. Bottom line, it’s solid, reliable, and won’t detour far off +/- 5 seconds a day.
So to conclude, the 2021 Heritage Classic Sector Dial is a winner on every level! Longines has perfected that balance of taking inspiration from the past and reworking designs tastefully. Priced at $2150, it's hard to think of a better all-round dress watch, combining history and sheer good looks.