When it comes to trends, the watch industry's collective imagination seems to be buzzing with ideas at the moment.
Since last year's Watches & Wonders alone, we've seen the rapid rise of the green dial – as shown in flagship releases from both Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe in our guide to 2021's new watches – as well as a race to slow the bigger-is-better trend, especially in dive watches, as more and more releases clock in at a wrist-friendly 41mm or lower.
And one that seems to be steadily gaining traction is the use of metals beyond stainless steel and gold – first in Tudor's Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique and 925, then in Hamilton's Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze.
All have gone right into their collective brands' core ranges, and the latter has also expanded further with its Khaki Field Automatic Titanium, released both as a limited-edition version to tie in to the release of the game Far Cry 6, as well as a standalone entry into its core range, too.
Titanium, of course, is far from a new material when it comes to watchmaking, having become a major player since the 1970s. But unlike bronze and silver – soft metals that require the use of a hardening alloy before they can be transformed into beautiful watches – titanium is known for being harder and more durable even than steel.
Titanium is being harnessed by more and more watchmakers looking for robust watches that pack a serious punch
These qualities, as well as its distinctive matt finish and darker colour profile – are being harnessed by more and more in the modern era by watchmakers looking for robust sports, field and pilot's watches that pack a serious punch.
Longines Spirit Titanium
The Longines Spirit collection was launched in 2020, and celebrates the brand's distinguished (and often underplayed) ties with the aviation industry. The brand was a supplier to the International Aeronautical Federation early in its history, and its watches have been worn by many a notable pilot and explorer in the years since.
The collection blends a distinctively aviation-ish look and feel designed primarily for legibility (especially in its non-chronograph models). In fact, the distinctive winged Longines logo and its five stars – there as a nod to its chronometer certification – are the only things aside from Arabic numerals and a date window on an otherwise clean and crisp dial.
And the newest addition, the Longines Spirit Titanium, dispenses even with the date complication, which – alongside its rock-hard case and the option of either a Nato strap or bracelet – should appeal to those with a predilection towards the aesthetics of both field and sports watches, as well as those rooted in aviation.
Elsewhere numerals, hands and the other elements are softly darkened with gold for the titanium version, lending a touch of subtle luxury to its moody anthracite dial. The model is available at 40mm and 42mm, and a version of the L888.4 movement, created for the brand by ETA, also puts performance first, with a lightweight silicon balance spring that gives the watch a power reserve of 72 hours.
The result is a watch that – aesthetically, at least – borrows a little from the worlds of aviation, sports and field watches, and which is a natural fit for a brand whose history has always involved breaking through the cloud bank.
And speaking of breaking the bank, the model isn't expensive, either – with the 40mm at £2,450 it's a more-than-fair price for a chronometer-certified watch in titanium by any brand, let alone one with such a distinguished history in pilot's watches. It's not the first titanium model in Longines' armoury (or should we say hangar?) – the Avigation BigEye watch got there first – and given its beauty, as well as its durability, I'm sure it won't be the last, either.