1956 Longines 30CH Flyback Chronograph
Out of stock
Presented in excellent original condition with unpolished rose gold case, very rarely found like this. The original dial features contrasting red telemeter and blue tachymeter scales, original gold “dagger” hands matching the gold arrowhead markers, this ref. 5966 is an exquisite example of what Longines’ luxury chronographs were like during the apex of their popularity as technically impressive and stunning timepieces.
Large 37.5mm 18k solid rose gold case featuring gorgeous stepped lugs, this example is found in excellent unpolished condition with its original unsigned gold crown and pushers. This stunning case houses the beautiful cal. 30CH manual wind flyback chronograph movement numbered 9,4xx,xxx; fully functioning and very clean. Seldom seen in such condition, we have deduced that this example must have been stored away, unworn for many years. It is now being sold accompanied by an Extract from the Archives certificate issued by the great heritage department at Longines, this watch was originally sold through their Italian agent Ostersetzer in December 1956. Finding examples like this are becoming increasing rare and sought after. With its incredible movement, gorgeous design and important heritage, this ref. 5966 is one of the best you will find.
Founded in 1832 by Auguste Agassiz in Saint-Imier, Longines began life as a bespoke watchmaker, eventually turning to more mass production in the 1860s by acquiring a factory in its hometown. Following this effort to commercialise, Longines hired notable figures within the watchmaking world and began to innovate. With the American watchmaking industry blossoming, Auguste and his nephew, who had just joined, Ernest Francillon, sent engineer Jaques David to the US to precisely understand why their industry was becoming so advanced. After arriving back in Switzerland with a detailed 108-page document, Jaques influenced Auguste to change Longines’ practices and adapt to the American’s standards of quality control, manufacturing techniques and management styles or face succumbing to their American competitors.
Following the resultant change in Longines’ company structure and style, they went on to develop their very first chronograph movement in 1878. A monopusher movement, the cal. 20H was a technically impressive movement with all three functions (stop, start, and reset) operated by the one pusher – a rarity even still to this day. With this movement, Longines began to build a reputation for accuracy and subsequently became the official timekeeper for numerous events. Due to the popularity of their chronographs in the open market, counterfeiters were beginning to create knock-off Longines timepieces. As a result of their reputation being attacked and profits hurt, Ernest (who had taken charge in the mid-1860s) sought to protect Longines and registered it as a trademark in 1889.
With their reputation for market-leading quality and accuracy spurring the development of their ties to equestrian sports like show jumping and horse racing, Longines soon began to act as the official timekeepers for several other sports events. Across their history, they served as timekeepers for artistic and gymnastics events, the Olympics, Formula 1 races, land speed records and, of course, the equestrian events already mentioned. With an incredible number of horological innovations belonging to their storied past, Longines remain one of the most highly respected and best-selling watchmakers on the planet.
Following their first chronograph, the cal. 20H, Longines began to develop other chronograph movements in a bid to dominate the market through intense research, development, and investment. This sparked a particularly productive period in their history whereby new chronograph movements were being developed at an astonishing pace. In 1890 they debuted the cal. 19.73, a double-sided chronograph with a conventional two-register dial in a vertical arrangement on the front, and a double-track tachymeter on the back. Following this, they released a thinner version, the cal. 19.73N in 1909.
Thirteen years later, in 1922, the cal. 19.73N was modified into an incredibly impressive split-seconds chronograph. Eventually, this design was upgraded with a more powerful hairspring that yielded an incredible frequency of 50 Hz, thus making the cal. 19.73N capable of measuring elapsed time within 1/100th second – another innovation that still remains an impressive technical feat to this day. In 1936, Longines released their cal. 13ZN in multiple versions, some with a 30-minute counter, others with a 60-minute counter, some with one pusher, others with two. Amongst this patented movement and a litany of others, early Longines chronographs are regarded as some of the most historically significant and technically impressive ever to be made. Additionally, they are the brand that created the world’s first chronograph wristwatch, the cal. 13.33Z from 1913. With their storied past, it is no surprise that their reputation still precedes them.
The cal. 30CH
While the Longines cal. 13ZN, mentioned earlier, is often considered to be one of the most exquisite chronograph movements ever designed, its successor, the cal. 30CH (found in the ref. 5966 that we have on offer here) is held in just as high esteem. Released in 1947, the cal. 30CH keeps the cal. 13ZN’s core design, column-wheel architecture, and celebrated flyback function while also sporting an excellent finish. The cal. 30CH also marks the last of Longines’ in-house chronographs. While they would go on to create fabulous chronographs for long after the cal. 30CH’s release, Longines would deviate away from developing chronograph movements themselves. The cal. 30CH would then be discontinued in the 1970s, marking an end to their most illustrious and innovative portion of their history. Typically fitted into more oversized timepieces for the time, the ref. 5966 that we have here measures 37.5mm in diameter, in keeping with the cal. 30CH’s large 30mm diameter and spaced out subdials.
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