In-depth: The Longines Conquest V.H.P. series
Previewed at Baselworld 2017 and officially launched in the United States in November 2017, the Longines Conquest V.H.P line has taken the horological world by storm. Featuring an ultra-precise quartz movement and multiple innovations, this is one of the most important watches of 2017.
I admit that I’ve been a bit of a snob when it comes to quartz watches. Like a music fan who prefers vinyl to digital, I’ve always felt that the artistry of mechanical movements was somehow more authentic than battery-powered.
Over the last year, however, I’ve had my head turned on the subject. And that process began at Baselworld 2017, when I was introduced to the Longines Conquest V.H.P.
The Longines Legacy
With the Conquest V.H.P. (Very High Precision), Longines is championing a technology that it helped pioneer. In 1954, the brand developed the Chronocinégines — a quartz-powered clock that set a number of precision records at the Neuchâtel Observatory. In 1969, Longines developed the first mass produced quartz wristwatch. And in 1984, Longines set new heights for time-keeping with the first Conquest V.H.P.
Of course, the advent of inexpensive quartz movements lead to the quartz crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, an upheaval that saw hundreds of traditional watchmakers go out of business. And many of the operations that did survive thrived by focusing on more complicated mechanical movements.
A New Quartz Revolution
Which brings me back to Baselworld. At the time, the two things that attracted me to the Conquest V.H.P. were its technology and sporty look.
When the original Conquest V.H.P was released in 1984, the ultra-accurate quartz watch was considered one of the great goals of watchmaking. But when the technology could be more easily mass produced than mechanical, it also became less innovative and the race to improve accuracy in quartz timekeeping slowed down. Talking about quartz became boring, and only a handful of watchmakers, like Longines, continued to strive for ways to improve quartz precision.
For example, the revived Conquest V.H.P is equipped with an ETA movement developed exclusively for Longines. There are quite a few feats of engineering here, including an extremely high degree of precision for an analog watch (plus five seconds a year — a year!). It also uses the GPD (gear position detection) system which gives the timepiece the ability to reset its hands after taking a hard hit or being exposed to magnetic fields. And the thermo-compensated quartz movement (preventing problems caused by fluctuations in temperature) also provides a four-year battery life. When the battery starts to wind down, there’s an end of life indicator to remind you that it’s time for a change.
For a person who wants a watch that they don’t want to fuss about, the three hands and perpetual calendar version make for an ideal everyday timepiece.
I was impressed when I first saw the technical specs of Conquest V.H.P last March, but perhaps the most compelling testament to the timepiece is that my admiration for the practicality of the watch has only grown since then.
Beyond the precision, one of the advantages of using a quartz movement is that it is lighter and therefore more comfortable on the wrist. At 14mm thick, the case isn’t so clunky as to get caught under cuffs.
Overall, I’ve come to appreciate that the V.H.P. is an extremely wearable watch. There are four versions, all in durable stainless steel: the three-hander in 41 and 43 mm and the chronograph (coming in 2018) with 42 and 44 mm diameter cases. All watches have a tough sapphire crystal and water resistance up to 5 bar (50 meters). The bracelet has a triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism. These features make the Conquest V.H.P. an ideal, everyday watch because you just don’t need to worry about it.
Longines has resurrected the ideals of the 1980s-era Conquest V.H.P, trading the retro look for a sporty profile in this new edition.
Over the years, many watch designers have told me that using quartz movements also gives them more freedom with design. And while the aesthetics of the Conquest V.H.P are not as futuristic as its innards, it is still an eye-catching timepiece.
Despite its lightness, the curvilinear shape of the round case and the links of the integrated metal bracelet lend the watch a lot of wrist presence. In fact, when I wore it, it attracted a lot of interest from passers-by. I admit that, like many watch fans, I get an endorphin rush when someone compliments my timepiece.
The dial design of the three-hander is also elegant without feeling too fancy. Silvered, blue (my favorite), or carbon dials are available for all models. I also dig the display with its two applied Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock. The applied bar indices are treated with Super-LumiNova which gives a clean, graphic, of-the-moment look.
Also attractive is the Conquest V.H.P.’s price. Most V.H.P. models start at $1,000. The Longines Conquest V.H.P is available at select retailers or online.