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Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935, the wish to fly

Once on my wrist, this chronograph awoke the dormant memories of the part of my childhood I spent flying with an adventurous aunt, one of the only female pilots of her generation.

By Joel Grandjean
Editor in Chief

This watch has revived my long-lost dream of flying and finally attending the classes that would allow me to hold the control stick one day. Therefore, it wouldn’t hurt to be accompanied by the new timekeeping instrument that evokes airborne conquests. The watch, part of the Heritage collection allowed me to reconnect with part of my family’s legacy: the buried memories of a beloved aunt, pilot and a born adventurer.

An irresistible desire to take off

Her name was Laureine Waltis, a nickname she invented to move forward in her decidedly exciting life after a tragic plane crash. And since she couldn’t fly anymore, she started a new life – she crossed the Sahara desert alone, stayed in renovated houses at the foot of the Luberon, spent a long time in Chad, found a publisher for her poetry collections, made canvas and porcelain paintings, and also wooden sculptures that drew out the unlikely aesthetics of treasures offered by nature – roots, trunks, branches… In her artistic fingers, everything had a second chance.

Laureine Waltis was the second ever female pilot in France. The first one was the daughter of a famous pilot who received much more media coverage. Waltis did not only know how to fly all kinds of aircrafts, but she was also an aerobatic instructor. When I was just two years old, I stayed with her and her peers and pupils, soldiers whom she taught with mischievous charm. She introduced me to cockpits and took me on some joyful flights, which are undoubtedly today responsible for this furious desire that I still have to pilot a plane one day. From time to time, I caress a sepia photo showing La Semeuse in which I am sitting on the wing of a small plane and surrounded by my family from La Chaux-de-Fonds. That was the day I set foot on Eplatures airport for the first time, as she landed there to bring me back to my family.

A tribute to aviators’ achievements

I love watches that tell us stories – sometimes even tell us about our own history – because in a tiny space they combine colours or shapes that resonate deep within our beings. And so, as soon as I strapped the Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935 on my wrist, I felt my wings grow.

The day will come, for sure, when I finally have this piloting control stick in my hands allowing me to fly over the earth.

Flying, like Icarus’ dream? Everything about this timepiece with altered balances invites me to do it – starting with the honey sepia nuances. Indeed, while the large striated crown – which is easily turned even with pilot gloves on – has been placed at 2 o’clock, the entire time display has been shifted 40 degrees to the right. The dial features oddly-positioned Arabic numerals, which are quite disarming at first, while 12 o’clock has been moved to 2 o’clock, and 6 o’clock to 4 o’clock. The famous and indispensable Longines date indicator – one of the watch’s distinguishing features – has been coiled in a sub-dial that is also off-centered near 8 o’clock.

Meanwhile, Charles Lindbergh

The official release indicates that this configuration was practical for pilots in full action, who did not want to let go of the control stick to read the indications. If only I could check for myself… Oh, well, I’ll trust what they say. After all, the brand from Saint-Imier has a rich and multi-faceted history and is clearly linked to the exploits of former aviators. Starting with Charles Lindbergh, the first pilot to have crossed the Atlantic alone. By the way, this year will mark the 90th anniversary of his achievement; save the date.

Since those who fly can’t afford to make any mistakes, these timepieces, inspired by a 1935 model, must be both ultra-precise and extremely legible. These criteria earned them the right to be named after the“Type A-7”, the pre-drone and pre-jet US Army engine of the time, which handled adventures and fed off the joys of flying. Thanks to the automatic mechanical caliber L788.2, the Longines Aviation Watch Type A-7 1935 allowed access to the column-wheel mechanism and single pusher attached to the oversized fluted crown. It started the chronograph, stopped instantly, and reset. On the back, there was thankfully no sapphire glass giving a view of its mechanism. Instead, there was just an engraving of one of those legendary aircrafts with the word ‘LONGINES’ written across its wings. It is consistent, as the reasonably sized 41-mm piece could also fit perfectly on a woman's wrist.

Its “pear-skeleton”-shaped blued steel honey hands and the warm-brown alligator leather remind me of the cockpits I saw when I was a kid. I must admit that when I had to part from this chronograph to return it to Longines, I felt like I was brought down to earth.

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