Editor’s note: Like you, we are also excited for the 2022 novelties. Before we get to dive deep into them, let’s look at the new Longines Spirit Zulu Time. For our detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here. This is NOT a sponsored post.
The New Longines Spirit Zulu Time In A Nutshell
For the past few years, around the 5k AUD mark, the much loved Tudor BB GMT has pretty much set the benchmark for affordable luxury Swiss GMT watches. But the new Longines Spirit Zulu Time retailing for a lesser 4’400 AUD on a strap or 4’550 AUD on a bracelet, really ups the ante here and provides some serious challenge.
The new Longines Spirit Zulu Time is a true GMT watch that can measure multiple time zones and is inspired by the first Longines wristwatch to indicate a second time zone: the model Zulu Time of 1925 with its typical Z-flag on the dial. Aviators such as Amy Johnson, Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon have made use of these tool watches, where Z on the dial stood for Zulu Time, the universal time format.
2022 for Longines has been shaping up to be quite an year, with beautiful releases such as the Gradient Longines Diver Collection, HydroConquest XXII Commonwealth Games watch, and the new Longines Spirit 37.
The Longines Spirit was first launched in 2020 and has since been a source of impressive releases, available in 42mm and 40mm case sizes (with a choice of steel or titanium case materials and various dial and strap options). The recent Spirit 37 is an excellent move by the brand to cater to those with slim wrists, and with its 47mm lug-to-lug spacing is an excellent and welcome new addition to the Spirit family.
The new Longines Spirit Zulu Time take that same ‘spirit’ and introduces to it an entirely new complication for the family, raising the desire and practicality given travel is slowly but surely becoming a reality again. It’s reference L3.8220.127.116.11/6 also looks like a Tudor Harrods version.
So how does it compare to the Tudor Black Bay GMT?
Longines Spirit Zulu Time vs Tudor BB GMT
The Longines Spirit Zulu Time features a 100m water-resistant 42mm diameter and 13.9mm thick stainless steel case with a lug-to-lug spacing of 49mm and interhorn spacing of 22mm. The bezel features a ceramic insert. It comes on either a bracelet or a strap, with the latter featuring a folding buckle and micro adjustment system.
The Tudor Black Bay GMT features a 200m water-resistant 41mm x 14.6mm stainless steel case lug-to-lug spacing of 49.6mm and the same interhorn spacing of 22mm. It is a little big for my ~16cm wrist, but for anyone with larger than my wrist, it will provide a great fit. It retails for 5’250 AUD on leather or 5’670 AUD on bracelet.
This 800 to 1000 Aussie dollar difference between the two does seem to make a difference; the Tudor BB GMT also features an aluminium insert as compared to the ceramic of the Longines Spirit Zulu Time (though personally I would pick aluminium over ceramic any day).
Now if we look at the movements, the Longines Spirit Zulu Time features the calibre L844 which like the Manufacture Calibre MT5652 of the Tudor GMT is COSC-certified. The MT5652 provides ~70-hour power reserve while the L844 provides ~72-hour.
The calibre L844 of the Longines Spirit Zulu Time is based on the ETA A31.L411which in turn is based on the tried-and-tested ETA 2892-A2, measures 25.6mm in diameter, comprises 21 jewels, beats at the slightly lower frequency of 3.5Hz, and also features a non-magnetic silicon balance spring.
The 31.8 x 7.52mm calibre MT5652 on the other hand is the date and GMT version of the MT5602 that is found in the regular Tudor Black Bay (41mm). It comprises 28 jewels, beats at 4Hz and features a non-magnetic silicon balance spring.
Both the watches come with a 5-year warranty, though the Longines Spirit Zulu Time is available in three variations — L3.818.104.22.168/6 with an anthracite dial and green bezel aka the Tudor Harrods version, L3.822.214.171.124/6 with a matt black dial and black bezel, and L3.8126.96.36.199/6 with a sun-ray blue dial and blue bezel — as compared to just the one of the Tudor BB GMT (Pepsi).
Which One Should You Pick
Longines watches have a tendency to sit bigger on wrists. Even though the lug-to-lug of the new Longines Spirit Zulu Time is fractionally smaller than the Tudor counterpart, it’s hard to say how the watch will sit without trying it on. I know that Tudor BB GMT may be a little large but still looks damn freakin’ amazing on my ~16cm wrist, while the Longines Spirit Prestige Edition ref. L3.810.4.93.9 measures 40mm x 12.20mm with a 49.4mm lug-to-lug spacing and sits even larger in my wrist despite the smaller diameter.
My theory is, without going hands-on with the new Longines Spirit Zulu Time, that for those with slimmer wrists, the Tudor might be a better option, and for those with larger wrists, the Longines Spirit Zulu Time would be a perfect fit.
So as to the verdict on whether the Longines Spirit Zulu Time will take your wrist game to new heights, the answer is a straightforward yes. It is an excellent offering especially when considering the price. And the answer to the second part of the question, does it fizzle when compared to the Tudor Black Bay GMT, that’s a no. It doesn’t.
With measurements and movement specifications so similar, it boils down to personal tastes as both the Longines and Tudor offerings are different in aesthetics. There’s also the snowflake hands of the Tudor which some either love or do not (I find myself in the former category). In the same manner, the Longines Spirit Zulu Time’s dial features the 5-stars, which again some favour and some don’t (and again I find myself in the former category, maybe because I used to be a movie critic before and 5-star is generally rare). The date wheel is matched on all of the Longines to the dial colour whereas it’s not on the Tudor GMT.
The dial of the Longines is even more busy than the Tudor’s, and that’s a statement in itself. And Tudor has the date aperture at 3 while Longines at 6.
While Tudor has the classic dual-coloured bezel, the Longines Spirit Zulu Time features a single-colour version. The Tudor has increased water-resistance and is technically a smaller diameter. The bidirectional rotatable 48 notches bezel is in steel with 24-hour graduated anodised aluminium disc in matt burgundy and blue. On the Longines Spirit Zulu Time the bezel is steel with ceramic insert.
Both watches feature a true GMT, that is, they allow the hour hand to be adjusted independently of the GMT indicator.
Given the specs are so close and the pricing a bit further apart, it’s time for Tudor to release the Black Bay Fifty-Eight GMT to undisputedly rule this segment again (and for our predictions on the same and mock-ups of what a Tudor BB58 GMT might look like in different executions, please head to our coverage here).
For those who would prefer a dual-colour bezel of the Tudor but like they dial execution and the bold Arabic numerals of the Longines Spirit Zulu Time, there’s also the recently released TAG Heuer Autavia 60th Anniversary GMT. The ref. WBE511A.BA0650 is available in a 42 x 13.65mm steel case and a ‘Batman’ style rotating bezel retailing for 6’100 AUD. It like the other two also features a COSC-certified movement.
Out of the three here though, Longines has the longest relationship with dual-time watches, with over 100 years of expertise that includes 1908’s Turkish watches, 1925’s first wristwatch to indicate a second time zone called the Longines Zulu Time, 1931’s Longines Cockpit Clock, 1933’s Longines Weems, 1935’s Longines Pilot’s Watch, and 1937’s Longines Cockpit Clock.
At the start of a flight whichever you choose, rest assured, your time is in good hands. Not only that but watch enthusiasts now have more GMT offerings to choose from mainstream brands. 2022 is shaping up to be good year horology wise.
To find out more about the new Longines Spirit Zulu Time and their other watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are courtesy are © 2022 Longines Watch Co. Francillon Ltd., All rights reserved. Make sure to check out our reviews of other Watches & Wonders 2022 novelties here. For Longines and Tudor watches, visit their authorised retailer J Farren-Price Sydney at 80 Castlereagh St, Sydney (02 9231 3299).