Longines Spirit Zulu Time Serves Up a Century’s Worth of Aviation History

Three Longines Spirit Zulu Time GMT watches on a map background
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Usually, getting a GMT watch—a timepiece that can show the current time in multiple time zones at once—is an expensive proposition. But if you’re after a functional travel watch with deep aviation history, it’ll be hard to beat the value of the new Longines Spirit Zulu Time collection. This release, comprising several new watches with an assortment of strap options, highlights the brand’s hundred-plus years of experience creating dual time zone timepieces and makes a handsome addition to the existing Spirit collection of watches. And with a price tag starting under $3,000, the Spirit Zulu Time should be a compelling candidate for any collector’s wish list.

The Spirit Zulu Time follows a long line of GMT timepieces from Longines. The company pioneered the technology with its first dual time zone pocket watch in 1908 and filed multiple patents around the tech shortly after its release. More specifically, Spirit Time Zulu gets its name from Longines’ first dual-time zone wristwatch, which emerged from the workshop in 1925. It was named Zulu Time, a reference to the “Zulu Time” (also known as Coordinated Universal Time) used by aviators and the military.

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Since the release of that watch in 1925, many famous aviators have used Longines timepieces in record-setting flights. Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia (she made her flight in 1930), wore a Longines watch. And when pilots Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon made the first nonstop trans-Pacific flight from Japan to the United States in 1931, they used a dual-time Longines cockpit clock to help them navigate.

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Of course, you don’t have to be a pilot to appreciate the new Longines Spirit Time Zulu watches—they’re stylish and capable for everyday wear, too. The new models feature 42mm stainless steel cases with colored ceramic bezel inserts (in blue, green, or black) and matte black, sandblasted anthracite, or sunray blue dials. There’s a date window at 6 o’clock, and the GMT function operates thanks to a third hand that indicates a second time zone on the 24-hour bezel scale. All the hands and numerals are coated with Super-LumiNova for excellent visibility, and the watch is capped with durable sapphire crystal. Overall, the watches pack in a lot of information without looking cluttered, and with their large numerals and subtle colorways, they’ll make stylish dress watches.

Better yet, you can option them with a stainless steel bracelet or a brown, beige, or blue leather strap, so they’ll suit just about any occasion or outfit.

Three Longines Spirit Zulu Time GMT watches on a white background
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On the inside, the watches are powered with a new movement made in-house at Longines. The movement allows the wearer to adjust the hour hand and the GMT indicator independently (essential for keeping accurate time while in the air or on the ground), and it boasts a lengthy power reserve of 72 hours. Better yet, the movement is COSC-certified for accuracy even when confronted with shocks, magnetic fields, and other troublesome environmental factors.

All that for under three grand? Not a bad proposition. Pilots may not rely on mechanical clocks and watches as much as they once did, but we’re happy to see that Longines’ GMT prowess is still being put to good use for the rest of us.

[Starting at $2,950; longines.com]

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