Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

Thread: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

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  1. #1
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    Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    Hello everyone,

    I am looking to fully restore/service/clean my father's 50s/60s Longines Flagship. Crown is missing, glass needs changing and the silver dial has quite a few age spots on it. It was regularly serviced and used daily up until the late 1980s when it became a struggle to find a jeweller to service it and therefore started losing time badly.

    I travel alot between Switzerland and the UK and was wondering if anybody had any thoughts about taking the watch to Longines (sadly now Swatch I suppose) in St Imier as opposed to a local watchmaker.

    The people at Longines have been very helpful over the phone and seem to know about the model etc and the trip would be worth it just to see their museum. I also like the idea of original parts but do you think an independent Swiss watch repairer (I have found a reputable one whose advertisements indicate he does this kind of restoration) or one in the UK would do a better job.

    I doubt the watch is worth much but it has great sentimental value so I am not concerned about cost, just the quality of work in terms of physical presentation and timekeeping as my father would like to wear it as his everyday watch once again.

    Sorry for long message but any advice/ comments would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    Hi Robbo,

    Welcome to the forum. If I were you, I'd take the watch to Longines and have them restore it. It's their watch after all, and I think I'd be more comfortable giving the watch to the company that made it, for repairs & restoration, than an independent watchmaker. Of course, if this is not possible for *X* reasons, then start looking for a reputable and quality watchmaker with plenty of experience and skill in restoration & repair of vintage, hand-wound mechanical (which is what I assume this is?) watches. They seem to be a rarity these days (it took me nearly half a dozen tries before I found a good watchmaker), but if you've found one, jump on him and give him the watch.

    Watches are one of the few things which actually last long enough and which always have a use, to become family heirlooms (others being stuff like houses, furniture, pens etc). I hope you get it restored and working for your father and that it remains in the family for several generations to come.
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

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  3. #3
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    Re: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    Thanks Shangas. Your reply has confirmed for me that the watch should go back "home" to St Imier. I was just worried that they'd have lost all historic knowledge following the Swatch takeover.

    The watch is actually an early automatic. I hope they can do something to restore the dial and get timekeeping to within a couple of minutes a week. Anyway, will be great to see the museum.

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  5. #4
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
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    Re: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    I don't think you have to worry about the loss of history with Swatch. In spite of the rather low end name Swatch is a large conglomerate that makes everything from very high end to consumable watches.
    Longines is a mid-upper tier brand for them that they hope to make more prestigious. I am sure they will take care with both the historical facts and the restoration of your watch. Won't be cheap but it is your father's watch so probably worth it to you.

    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

  6. #5
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    Re: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    I received my father's watch back from Longines yesterday after 6 months. It looks absolutely beautiful but there are a few things that worry me and I just wondered if anyone has any advice:

    1. Longines told me that they would need to replace the hands with identical new ones. They did but now there is also a seconds hand which there never was before. It takes away from the classic look and, most important, the original character of the watch. Also, I think this means Longines may have replaced the movement which is not what I asked for or what they say they have done. On the other hand, I know this watch (Flaghship model, Calibre 340) was also available with a seconds hand so maybe it is just that they put 3 hands on rather than 2- I am no expert so do not know whether this is feasible or a ridiculous thought.

    2. When I turn the crown, it "ticks" like a manually wound watch. In the past it had that quiet grinding sound of most automatics. I wound about 40 times to see if it stopped which I would have taken as a sign that it was now a manually wound movement but it didn't. Also when I shake it, it still sounds like an auto movement is there. Longines sent a bag of parts they had changed. This included the semi disk that rotates inside the case with "Longines Automatic" written on it. It still looks like new so I am not sure why this was changed. Again, I hope it is not because it no longer has the original movement.

    3. Cosmetic- but when refurbishing the dial, which looks great, Longines did not add the "SWISS MADE" logo under 6 o'clock. I think this takes away from its authenticity.

    I sent an email to Longines asking if they could remove the seconds hand, confirm the watch still has the same movement and serial number inside and add the "SWISS MADE" logo to the crown.

    The work was very very expensive (more than the price of a new equivalent watch) and I did it for my father to think that his watch looked and behaved like new- not like a different watch. That said, the quality of workmanship is fantastic. Am I being reasonable here with these requests or are these variations from the original to be expected?

  7. #6
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    It is difficult to say without pics... but... it is quite possible the 'original' second hand was not, in fact, original and had been replaced as some time. I know Omega, when doing authentic restorations, has changed the hands on watches to return them to authentic. In the case I heard of, Omega refused to put back on the 'original' hands saying, even though they were Omega hands, they were from a different model.

    Dial restoration is a difficult art. I suspect the 'swiss made' was not re-added because it would have further driven up the cost, which sounds like it was already very high.

    As to switching movements... I can't tell but I suspect there were no Flagships made in the dates you specify that were not automatics. The sound differences are probably because the movement is now working properly.

    It sounds as though Longines did a good job... very few shops would have even undertaken that level of restoration.
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  8. #7
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    Re: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    Hi Eeeb - thx for your reply. I know for sure that the watch never previously had a seconds hand. .

    Also, there were a number of Flagships that were manually wound at the time- I believe the 30L movement is very well respected, which was also in Flagships. You are right though, a great job from the boys in St.Imier - I just wish they had asked me before adding another hand - it completely changes the look of the watch.

  9. #8
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    Ah... I see. Well, the 30L has a sub second (small dial with a second hand) but the 30LS has a central second. Dr. Ranfft does not list any 30L* without a second hand. Many of the central second movements came in flavors with and without. For example the 990 series... (Longines last internally designed movement... too late for your Flagship).

    Without pics it is hard to say what happened but I do suspect that no-second hand movements could have been converted to second hand movements if they are in the same family.

    I have a 990 without a second hand. I like it without a second hand. But then, being a HEQ nutcase, I never trust the displayed seconds on mechanical watches
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  10. #9
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    Re: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    The Flagship series was just that - Longines higher end watches. The 340 is an excellent caliber with a very efficient winding system for it's time and was one of their best. Any of them I've ever seen have a sweep center seconds hand. The half-circle is called a rotor and if it became unbalanced it would have been changed. I doubt they'd change the entire movement for a manual wind. You could always have the back popped off at a local watchmaker for a look. The SWISS MADE was at a very tough portion of the dial to reproduce due to the convex curve. It may even still be on there but underneath the bezel. I don't think it's an unreasonable to want it put on if it isn't there though, and none of your request are unreasonable for that matter. Take it locally first. What metal is the case made of, and is there a schooner in raised relief on the caseback?

  11. #10
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    Re: Late 1950s/Early 1960s Longines Flagship

    I have several vintage Longines watches from the 40's 50's and 60's. None are redials and none of them have "Swiss Made" on the dials.

    I don't know when that practice began, however, perhaps it is possible that your dial is authentic without "Swiss Made".

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