Longines Marine Nationale. Why I fell in love with this watch.

 By: amanico : November 15th, 2015-00:11
The Longines M.N is a very underated watch.
Some find it too small, when its size is far from being a problem.
Some find it too discrete, when it is all about distinction.
This watch is not only a nice watch, it has a lot of charm, presence despite its small size, and, cherry on the cake, it has history.
I wanted to know more about this time keeper, and wrote to Longines.
As usual, they came back to me very quickly, with the following informations:
" Reference 5774. Cal 12.68N, delivered to Longines France on the 8th of November 1947. "
So, the schema is quite simple, here: The French Marine ( Marine Nationale ) directly bought the watches in question to Longines France.
The M.N is very close to its american sister, the Buships.
Here, the Buships: ( Credit picture, Steve G )
And there, the M.N: ( Credit picture: Zaf ).
The minute indexes are not totally the same, but we are here in presence of very close watches, almost twins, here.
There is another small detail which has its importance, which has been observed on all the M.N I saw in the real or in pictures:
" Fab Suisse "...
A mandatory mention, required by the import rules, which had to be written on the dials of the watches.
Here is a brilliant answer from our friend Marv, explaining that reglementation:
So, as these watches were bought by the French Marine, in France, the dial should mention that... If they don't, they are not true Marine Nationale watches.
Which also explains why you don't have this mention on the Buships dials...The US being not concerned by this rule.
After the story, let's go back to the watch...
1/ The dial:
The main problem, when you're on the hunt for a M.N, is to find a dial  which is not too ruined by the time passing.
The original white dial can turn into beige or orange, nothing to worry about. At the contrary, this is part of the charm of this watch!
The luminous index numbers are filled with radium, as well as the hands.
Sober, elegant, and legible, despite its modest size... These are the cardinal virtues of the Longines M.N, undisputably.
Nice detail, the heated blue hands...( Hour / Minute and Seconds ), which give the small touch of life to the dial.
2/ The case:
Here nothing original... The proportions are usual,The bezel, which gives a stepped profile to the case. Very nice.
The screw in case back tells the story of the watch, through two letters, M.N, and one number.
You will notice that the same number is also engraved on one lug, and also inside the case back.
3/ The movement:
Open the screw in case back, and you will admire the Cal 12.68N.
The Cal 12.68 is a 12'" movement, which corresponds to a diameter of 27 mm, and 5, 45 mm high.
It beats at 18 000 vibrations per hour and offers an autonomy of 40 hours.
Released in 1939, this movement has been massively produced.
The finish is not outstanding, but the movement receives some nice anglages which seem to belong to another era, compared to the modern production
4/ Another good reason to love this watch: It is, in a certain way, close to another time keeper housed by another french service...
Here is the other reason which made me hunt the Longines M.N.
The Jaeger-Lecoultre SHOM, which is much rarer than the Longines.
Indeed, when the Longines was made in several hundreds of pieces, the JLC didn't reach the number of one hundred.
Both borrowed their cases from the production, and the movements, too ( Ref 159 for the JLC case / Cal P 478 for the JLC movement ),  opted for heated blue hands and  for dials which are aesthetically very close.
Now, the JLC has a 1mm bigger case, maybe a bit more elegant,  while the Longines is more designed as a tool.
The Longines has two points over the JLC: A screw in case back, and, undisputably, a nicer movement.
An interesting comparison picture of these 2 case backs:

The P 478:
Isn't it a superb pair?
Aaah, and for those who still doubt that 33 mm is wearable, here is a picture of this lovely Longines on my 17 cm wrist:
Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts,
This message has been edited by amanico on 2015-11-15 00:15:31 This message has been edited by amanico on 2015-11-15 00:15:56

OK - another epic post :)

 By: KMII : November 15th, 2015-01:09
You are just priming us all to dive deeper into vintage and a good thing it is, too smile

Really like the Longines MN and as I have found that I actually enjoy smaller sized watches (the 37/38 mm Grand Seikos are to blame) more and more.

So many nice Longines watches from the past. I was fascinated to see a Longines for sale from the late 1940s recently that must have been the design basis for the Nomos aesthetic - if the brand name was not on it, I'd swear it was a Nomos. smile

These oldies are pure treasures. And the good thing is that you won't have to sell the house to get one. To find one is another thing... [nt]

 By: amanico : November 15th, 2015-02:06
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That's the challenge :)

 By: KMII : November 15th, 2015-02:14
But luckily there is time and lots and lots of options smile And friends who give good advice biggrin

Indeed! ;) [nt]

 By: amanico : November 15th, 2015-02:56
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Great watch in a small package!

 By: blomman Mr Blue : November 17th, 2015-01:15
Beautiful case, strong character!
I should post some more of my with the same case.....


Yes, please do so! These are such marvels. [nt]

 By: amanico : November 17th, 2015-08:43
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Simply love these pieces !.. These MNs are cool tools, the Longines more than JLC.. But these 159s are splendid juwels !

 By: hs111 : November 18th, 2015-07:38
.. BTW: can't play with a MN or even SHOM - too elusive so far,

At least can share my 159s, well..whereby one lovely one with a
greenish patina belongs to my wife.

Had taken me more than 4 years to find my own JLC 159, in black..

All I can say, these are superb to wear..

Left: 159 light-greenish; credit: my wife
Rgt: 159 black dial, hs

Left: before corrected hands
Rgt: now with proper hands

Best, hs
smile smile

Superb, HS. Have to agree with you on the black E 159. [nt]

 By: amanico : November 18th, 2015-07:45
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Mi Compliments, superb and rare

 By: Il New : November 29th, 2015-03:42
It's a fantastic Longines.

Yes, I think so. This watch gives a lot of pleasure and satisfaction. Thanks, my friend. [nt]

 By: amanico : November 29th, 2015-08:18
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Wow! Being over 300 years old I guess Vlad misplaced this...

 By: =RWK= : November 30th, 2015-10:08

and was doing a little house cleaning. Looks vintage & brand new at the same time Nicolas! smile

I like both pieces, but the longer seconds hand and 5, 10, 15 etc., of the Marine Nationale




Thanks, Richard. I do enjoy this one a lot. [nt]

 By: amanico : November 30th, 2015-10:23
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