Earlier this year, Longines introduced the HydroConquest in steel and ceramic, with a marine blue ceramic bezel highlighting the collection’s aquatic association vividly. The diving-inspired sporty and elegant watch offers all the features of an ISO-6425 certified diving watch, but with its steel bracelet (or rubber strap alternative) and handsome looks, the watch fits better than ever in the sports elegance category. It’s a segment of the market that is steadily growing once more.
Since its introduction in 2007, the collection has steadily seen a refining of design, with a cleaner dial format and ceramic bezel inserts in different colours presented in the last few years. Now, right after the HydroConquest Blue, Longines has introduced an all-ceramic model in a stealthy all-black design. It’s the first all-ceramic timepiece in the collection, a 43mm sturdy beater that will surely appeal to fans of ultra-light, rugged watches across the world.
The case is in black polished ceramic, with a matte black ceramic bezel with oversized Arabic numerals on the bezel and dial. SuperLuminova coated markers and hands on the dial ensure its legibility in the dark, with a small date window at 3 o’clock. Unlike some all-black watches, the HydroConquest Ceramic doesn’t go for the stealth look with black indicators, to ensure its ISO validity.
The dial has ZrO2 inscribed on the dial, referencing the zirconium oxide material used in the making of the case as well as its dial and clasp. The watch is drive by the L888.3 automatic movement developed for Longines. The useful properties of zirconium oxide ceramic — hardness, resistance to chemical reactions and even crack propogation, and lightness among other qualities, make it an excellent option for watchmaking. It’s incredibly rare to hear a brand making even its dial out of ceramic, given the taxing process of producing ceramic parts. (Omega’s Seamaster Diver 300m does offer a ceramic dial with the wave pattern engraving, if you recall.)
Ceramic components are first made in a slurry of the material, from which they are shaped and then dried. The dried out powder is then moulded and machined, before heating and pressure are used to sinter the material. It’s this part that is the most challenging, since ceramics shrink unevenly in this three-part process of sintering.
That means that machining must be incredibly precise prior to sintering, as each material shrinks differently and thus must be accounted for in the process of producing each ceramic part. In this case of this watch, the crown, dial and case must all fit together properly.
The case back features the initials of Longines’ founder, Ernest Francillon, as well as the brand’s winged hourglass logo. The watch is fitted with a black rubber strap. Retail availability and pricing are as yet unavailable, but we’ll have an update for you once we have it.
Update: The watch will be retailing at CHF3,500/SGD5,570. It will be available in markets across the world from June 2019 onwards.