Longines Spirit Zulu Time

The New Longines Spirit Zulu Time In 39mm Soars

The addition of a more universally wearable execution to the authenticity-laden Longines GMT-equipped pilot watch is ready for take-off.

By Mike Espindle
Executive Editor

I can’t think of a better way to say it, but pilot watches are just, well, cool. Even in their most modern forms, they generally carry a very classic, utilitarian-meets-style look to them, as well as some honest respect for aviation history and the spirit of those who choose the still daring, dashing activity of piloting an aircraft into the wild blue yonder.

Similarly, one of the coolest concepts associated with pilot watches is the idea of “Zulu Time.” As often happens when you dig into something that sounds cool, the actual explanation of this term turns out to be a bit pedestrian. Zulu Time is simply a product of the military’s quest to create a standardized set of time zones so international armed forces, including their airmen, can better coordinate activities. With each time zone designated a letter from the NATO phonetic alphabet, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) – formerly Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) – is indicated by the letter “Z”, hence “Zulu Time.”

In the Italian automotive world, there is a term “superleggera” (a very cool word) used to designate performance cars that have been stripped of weight to increase speed. The English translation is roughly “super light” (not so cool). So, if you’re behind the wheel of a Ferrari, you can more easily pull off using superleggera when you talk than if you are not driving one. Hence, if you are wearing a pilot watch, Zulu Time is a more legitimate addition to your common vocabulary.

Speaking Zulu

That said, a timepiece with Zulu in its name needs to pack in beaucoup authenticity and appeal. Thankfully, Longines’ new 39mm Spirit Zulu Time checks all the boxes, and more. Moreover, if you blend in the brand’s estimable aviation history, that authenticity just screams out: Amelia Earhart wore a Longines. So did Charles Lindbergh. In fact, Longines’ very first dual-time zone watch in 1925 featured the Zulu flag on the dial to highlight the GMT function. Coming to today, Longines recently debuted a stunning pilot flyback chronograph. Longines’ relationship with aviation has legs (er, wings?).

The new 39mm Spirit Zulu Time’s flight plan, however, is plotted more toward a certain purity and wearability. The timepiece debuted last year in 40 and 42mm sizes, but, just as in aviation, even slight alterations can make a difference. At 39mm, the case size not only opens up the wearability world to those who prefer a smaller watch, but the new size is visually a step or two more vintage-inspired and authentic on the wrist. Ditto on lug-to-lug length (21mm) and thickness (13.5mm).

As the size goes down a bit, next-generation enhancements increase. Additional anti-magnetic components join the Longines movement’s silicon balance spring to bolster protection from magnetic fields that can impact accuracy (with tested resistance of fields up to 600 Gauss). Even in the modern world, the Spirit Zulu Time will be unaffected by the magnetism we live with all day. The movement is COSC-certified and delivers 72 hours of power reserve.

Flying Colors

Available in steel case and steel bracelet executions with a highly legible matte black dial, a textured sand-blasted anthracite dial, or a sunray blue dial, the colorways are enhanced by color-matched ceramic inserts on the bi-directional bezels. An interchangeable brown NATO strap or brown leather strap is included with the steel bracelet models, as well. These versions start at $3,050.

In addition, a version with a stunning 18K yellow gold bezel and crown, gilt GMT track, and chocolate brown ceramic bezel insert flies at the head of this squadron. The sand-blasted anthracite dial sports beige numerals for the 6 o’clock date aperture, while the indices and hands are coated with special “old radium” Super-LumiNova to make the vintage homage even more palpable. Expect to pay no less than $4,200 for that flight.

To learn more, visit the Longines website.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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