The Internet has been abuzz about the new Longines Pilot Majetek, the latest in the brand’s long line of aviation-inspired watches, and we have to join this party too, having just seen the watch in the metal. The short story here is that the little arrow you see there beneath the sapphire crystal turns along with the bezel, yet the watch remains faithfully water-resistant to 100m. This does not sound like much, written so prosaically like this, but it is quite a pleasure to see the arrow turn in person. The other immediate thing to note about the Majetek is the meaning of the name, which requires a quick detour into history.
The original Majetek was made in 1935 and its full name was Majetek Vojenske Spravy, although that was not a model name or anything like that. It simply means property of the military administration, which it was because Longines made it for the Czechoslovakian Air Force; the Majetek bit means property, although the nickname probably stuck because it sounds cool. Unfortunately, we only have so much space to get into this so we will have to return to this subject another time. On to the current Majetek watch!
Cushion-shaped with a round fluted bezel and dial, the Majetek is typical of watches from the 1930s, although you may raise an eyebrow (or two) at the 43mm size. It is worth remembering here that this watch was probably worn over a jacket, as the aviators of old used to do; it is very cold in the atmosphere and early planes did not even have pressurised cabins. Longines did not specify the exact case size of the original watch, but the fact that it was a professional tool (1,700 were made for the pilots who flew alongside the RAF in WWII) indicates that it might have been quite a big watch.
In any case, we were pleased to see a watchmaking innovation that has to do with the case rather than the movement. Feeling and manipulating the bezel is a real treat, akin to those watches that use the bezel to control a movement function, or the typical unidirectional bezel of the dive watch. This one operates smoothly so do not expect any clicks here. Longines originally developed this mobile indicator under the glass in 1930 in wristwatch form, and it was a simple affair — a mobile luminescent hour marker paired with a mobile bezel. The purpose here was to allow pilots to track departure times, or some other variable that would allow them to navigate on the fly.
The original was not water-resistant at all, and Longines had to pioneer a new system to allow for this in the new Pilot Majetek; a plate on the case side at 9 o’clock conceals a patented gear mechanism that Longines says allows the bezel to be connected with the marker under the sapphire crystal without compromising water-resistance. The watch is powered by the automatic calibre L893.6, which was developed exclusively for Longines, featuring a silicon hairspring with a running time of 72 hours. The watch is COSC-certified so it is a chronometer.
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