" A super cool template for bloggers, photographers and travelers "

In-Depth: A Detailed Look At Early Longines Chronographs, Including The Legendary 13ZN

When we talk about vintage chronograph developments, there are many meriting our consideration – from the generally common Valjoux 72 that powers anything from a Rolex Daytona to a Gallet Multichron 12, to the extremely uncommon and complicated Caliber 13-130 that dwells in a Patek 1518 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph . Be that as it may, however much it is wrong to guarantee this for the last mentioned, neither one nor the other developments we just referenced are genuinely “in-house,” since the Caliber 13-130 is still eventually dependent on a Valjoux ebauche. Indeed, the quantity of companies that delivered the two watches and developments were not many and far between.

Longines 13ZN in steel – notice the delightful blued hands and area dial. (Image by means of nakahiro.parfait.ne.jp)

One genuinely “in-house” chronograph development started its improvement during the 1920s, with changes, updates and various alterations occurring until it was at last eliminated in the mid 1970s. Obviously, we are discussing the Longines type 13ZN, one of the seemingly most delightful chronograph developments at any point created, until maybe the arrival of the A. Lange & Söhne calliber L951 inside the Datograph.

Surprised? While Swatch has situated the Longines brand rather diversely since its obtaining in 1971 by Ebauches S.A. (the antecedent to Swatch Group), Longines was quite possibly the most regarded makers, thinking back to the nineteenth and right on time to mid-twentieth century, particularly of high exactness chronographs.

Longines Flyer in the nineteenth century. (Image by means of Longines, From a Family Business to a Global Brand)

A brief look at Longines’ logo – the winged hourglass – can presumably give us a few clues with regards to the focal point of the company on flight. Keeping that in mind, Longines was designated the authority provider for the International Aeronautical Federation (IAF) in 1919, which empowered the company to be engaged with numerous aeronautical undertakings during the mid twentieth century. The most popular of them was Charles Lindbergh’s performance, direct departure from New York to Paris in his airplane, the “Soul of St. Louis,” in May 1927.

The second movement that provoked the improvements of mechanically progressed and complex chronographs was Longines’ inclusion in games timing. For example, in 1926 Longines planned the International Equestrian Competition in Geneva, and in 1933 the Brazilian Grand Prix just as skiing big showdowns in Chamonix.

While Longines additionally created numerous rich and exemplary time-just watches during its set of experiences, the biggest concentration for “complicated” watches was on chronographs.

Brazilian Grand Prix in 1933. (Image through Longines, From a Family Business to a Global Brand)

The company’s essential spotlight on these two market fragments brought about an exploration exertion coordinated solely to chronographs. While Longines additionally created numerous rich and exemplary time-just watches during its set of experiences, the biggest concentration for “complicated” watches was on chronographs. For example, consider that Longines didn’t make any jumper watches until the last part of the 1950s, or watches with a moon-stage complication, rather than large numbers of its peers like Universal Geneve or Jaeger-LeCoultre, to name a few.

Stunning Longines larger than average Calatrava with an area dial. (Image through Cosimo Watches)

However, the essential choice to make the best chronographs brought about probably the most exceptional and lovely developments of the age in both pocket and wrist watches. While the radiant types made for the pocket watches, (for example, the 19.73N Rattrapante) can be left for one more day, we start our authentic excursion with the 13.33Z – one of the first chronograph developments at any point created for a wristwatch.

Longines pocket watch developments with rattrapante and minute repeater functions.

Longines Caliber 13.33Z

Longines 13.33Z development. (Image through orologiko.it)

The type 13.33Z was first evolved in 1913 and included 18 gems, a width of 13 lignes (29 mm) and tallness of 6 mm, beat at 18,000 vph and used a Breguet hairspring. It had a crown that was utilized for winding the watch and served as a pusher for the chronograph. The principal push begins the chronograph, the second stops it, and the third resets, and the cycle rehashes. In the prior renditions of the development, the crown couldn’t be utilized in a “pulled-out” or “expanded” position – squeezing a little pointer at the 2 o’clock position exchanged the elements of the crown, permitting it to change the time. While a large portion of the 13.33Z developments had the incorporated pusher at the 3 o’clock position, there were additionally the more extraordinary varieties that had a pusher at 2 o’clock.

Longines 13.33Z with isolated pusher. (Image by means of Cars and Watches)

Why is this development huge? It was the first chronograph for the wristwatch.

I’m not certain how more great this can be. Consider that the chronograph work was, before 1913, limited to take watches. To really utilize the chronograph and monitor passed time, you would have to hold the pocket watch in one hand. Be that as it may, imagine a scenario in which you’re confronted with a circumstance where you may require a chronograph and the utilization of both your hands (maybe to fly a plane or hold a rifle), it would be significantly more powerful to have a chronograph on one’s wrist.

It is henceforth no occurrence that the first of these watches were intended for military use. History gives us a purpose behind these turns of events – we’re discussing the time frame paving the way to World War I.

Longines 13.33Z with coordinated pusher. (Image through http://livedoor.blogimg.jp/)

The 13.33Z type was cased principally in gold and steel, combined with flawlessly embellished lacquer dials with tints of blue and red. Intriguing certainty: veneer dials, while inclined to breaking, really show improvement over typical dials whenever taken appropriate consideration of. There is commonly next to no “patina” on veneer, as compared to ordinary dials, which oxidize all the more without any problem. Subsequently a significant number of these watches from the mid 1910s up till the 1930s really stay in totally dazzling condition – particularly thinking about that they are right around 100 years old.

There were numerous varieties of the dial offered, from easier adaptations with simply Arabic numerals to ones with tachymeters, pulsometric scales or telemeters. A pulsometric scale, for example, was utilized to gauge a patient’s heartbeat. You would begin the chronograph as you start estimating the beat, and stop after 30 beats. The number that the scope seconds hand is highlighting would be the patient’s pulse. The prior adaptations of the dials, particularly those on veneer, accompanied the cursive Longines textual style rather than the serif.

Another fascinating reality: these watches, maybe because of impact from the pocket watches of the time, commonly came in cases with twofold case backs – not unlike how a pocket watch may be built. Etchings looking into the issue backs were additionally common particularly for the watches cased in strong gold.

Engraving on a case back. (Image by means of watchprosite)

These inscriptions regularly present the quantity of “Amazing Prix” that Longines won up to the Barcelona Exhibition of 1929. These “displays” were set up to be competitions for various watchmakers to exhibit their watches and developments, particularly precision and the level of complication. By the date of creation of the above model, Longines has won five “Thousand Prix” (Antwerp in 1885, Paris in 1889, Brussels in 1897, Paris in 1900, Milan in 1906). The following Grand Prix that Longines won was in 1914 in Bern, and since that was not reflected in the etching, it would imply that this specific watch was delivered before that. Longines would proceed to win 10 “Thousand Prix” altogether (the last at Barcelona 1929), more so than some other manufacturer.


While costs of 13ZNs have been consistently expanding, the 13.33Zs, as we would like to think, are still fairly undervalued and highlight less noticeably in the personalities of gatherers regardless of their staggering developments and dials. You would likely have the option to locate a mint condition 13.33Z under $10,000, with most living in the 6-8k territory. There is likewise to a lesser extent a distinction in costs between steel, gold (and silver) cases as compared to the 13ZNs. One thing to note: be careful about polish dials, which may break effectively during shipment (you may be in for a sudden stun if the watch shows up with hairline breaks in the dial because of inappropriate bundling). Likewise, since the majority of these watches accompanied pivoted backs, know that the pivot may have been recently broken, and afterward fixed by a jeweler.

Another key thing to focus on is ensuring the chronic number stepped on the development coordinate with the number stepped working on it. For example, the two pictures underneath are from a similar watch, and the chronic numbers do match.

Serial number on development. (Image by means of Cars And Watches)

Serial number on case back. (Image by means of Cars And Watches)

It is further worth referencing that Longines has awesome client support that can furnish you with data from their documents on the off chance that you have the chronic number of the watch, ordinarily inside 48 hours of your solicitation. The data would incorporate the type of the development; who, when and where it was invoiced to; and the reference number and material utilized for the case. This permits you an extraordinary method to check the credibility of the watch being referred to, particularly since re-packaging of watches was common in the mid twentieth century. For example, an initially gold case may have been softened down and the watch development and dial put in a less expensive, likely steel, case.

Extra Variations

At base right, the Longines 13.33Z. (Image through photobucket)

But to stray briefly – while this was the last, and maybe more very much perceived type of the 13.33Z, there was indeed a likewise named, time-only type 13.33Z that went before this development. Maybe it may have been an authoritative choice to rename the time-just development (which likewise looks very much like an early form of the type 13.34), yet there nonetheless exists a twin 13.33Z development, with a dial to oddly suggestive of a comparative one on the 13.33Z chronograph.

Image through orologi.forumfree.it

Longines Caliber 13ZN

After a roughly 23-year creation of the 13.33Z chronograph, in 1936 Longines started to deliver quite possibly the most mechanically progressed chronograph developments at that point – the Caliber 13ZN. As we referenced toward the start, Longines built up the primary chronograph for the wristwatch – the 13.33Z – however this was the first chronograph system outfitted with the flyback, or retour-en-vol, work. The 13ZN had 17 gems; a measurement of 29.80 mm and stature of 6.05 mm, and beat at 18,000 vph, and was furnished with a Breguet hairspring.

It is maybe no incident that the flyback system was created at Longines given its essential spotlight on flying and sports since the mid twentieth century. However, before we portray the development in detail – what is the flyback work, and what was its purpose?

Engaged chronograph.

Disengaged chronograph.

In normal chronographs, there is a tooth on the reset-to-zero mallet that is obstructed by the segment wheel when the chronograph is running to forestall any unplanned reset of the chronograph. Subsequently just when the chronograph is halted, and the segment wheel marginally pivoted to make an opening, can the reset hammer drop. The photograph on the left shows the watch when the chronograph is running – notice that the section wheel is obstructing connecting with the reset switch. The photograph on the correct shows the chronograph when halted, where the segment wheel turns to permit the reset switch to fall.

While it might sound straightforward on paper, consider that essentially no other maker endeavored to create a flyback mechanism in a chronograph until 20 years after the fact with the appearance of the Type XX chronographs delivered for the French military.

Longines type 13ZN – notice the absence of a tooth on the reset lever.

A flyback work, then again, takes into consideration the reset system to occur while the chronograph is running. The most evident mechanical contrast would be the lack of a tooth (circumnavigated in red) on the top of the reset hammer, which consequently permits it an unhampered development to reset the chronograph in any event, when it is running. Simultaneously, the flyback cycle should likewise separate the chronograph grasp, driving it away from the chronograph wheel while the reset button is squeezed, at that point reconnecting it whenever it is delivered (surrounded in blue). While it might sound basic on paper, consider that for all intents and purposes no other producer endeavored to create a flyback system in a chronograph until 20 years after the fact with the approach of the Type XX chronographs delivered for the French military (an exemption was in Glashütte where UROFA created flyback chronographs in the last part of the 1930s). That being said, they were mounted on either a Valjoux or Lemania movement.

Now that you see how it functions, why experience all that inconvenience and examination to grow such a mechanism?

Charles Lindberg and the Spirit of St. Louis.

Imagine you need to time two successive occasions in an incredibly, exact way. For example, a pilot needs to fly north for precisely 30 seconds, at that point east for the following 20, and north again for 15 seconds. In different chronographs around then, one would have to press the beginning stop-reset button multiple times in quick progression – an interaction that could lose the exactness of the estimation. A Breitling innovation during the 1920s considered the partition of the beginning/pause and reset component into two catches, yet that didn’t tackle the issue by the same token. Yet, in the 13ZN, a solitary press of the catch at 4 o’clock is adequate – and that is the place where excellence of the development lies.

Besides the development, the 13ZNs arrived in a wide assortment of cases and dials, another motivation behind why authorities go wild about this watch. They were cased in both steel and gold, with cases going from 34 mm to 38 mm, barring crown. The gold cases came in either 14K or 18K with snap-back case backs and an assortment of carry plans – from pivoted, to bended, to straight hauls, all combined with amazingly wonderful dials. The models above show the complexity of dial plan that accompanied this movement.

Longines 13ZN in a waterproof steel case, with mushroom pushers. (Image through watchprosite)

But the most intriguing 13ZNs dwell in waterproof, steel cases, combined with a three-or six-score screw down case back, additionally called “tre tacche” or “sei tacche” in Italian. They accompanied either button pushers or mushroom pushers; the last were really protected by Longines. These typically came in bigger, more present day 38 mm sizes, which sit magnificently on the wrist. These are not intended to be dress watches, yet rather device watches that were intended to be utilized in the field. For example, there is a bunch of type 13ZNs offered to the Romanian military , and many were additionally invoiced to Wittnauer, Longines’ accomplice in the U.S., to be offered to work force engaged with the military, just as the flying industry.

Lastly, note that this was not a modest watch using any and all means at the time it was sold – $125 during the 1940s, as indicated by the inventory. Compare this to the costs of Universal Geneve, one of two brands conveyed by the Henri Stern Watch Agency in New York – the other brand that they conveyed was Patek Philippe.


The first and most punctual 13ZNs are alluded to as “temporary 13ZNs” and accompanied monopushers or potentially were cased with lacquer dials. These are likely created somewhere in the range of 1936 and 1939, making them the absolute most extraordinary forms of the 13ZNs on the planet, and they were a change between the 13.33Z and 13ZN. We highlighted one of them already , and you can perceive how there is just a solitary pusher at the 2 o’clock position. This variant of the 13ZN with just a solitary pusher doesn’t have the flyback work and thus works comparably to the 13.33Z, as portrayed in the past section.

Transitional 13ZN monopusher – mid 1940s.

There is another variant of the 13ZNs that additionally came without the flyback work – however with two pushers. In the event that one opens up the watch and takes a gander at the development – notice that there is a tooth on the reset switch that keeps the switch from resetting the chronograph wheel while it is running.

Dual-pusher 13ZN without the flyback work. (Image through Vintage Oyster)

There is minimal that is thought about these 13ZNs, or why the flyback work was deliberately taken out, yet they do spring up inconsistently for sale.

At this point, we come to quite possibly the most wanted Longines on the planet – the type 13ZN-12. This is basically a type 13ZN, however an hour counter replaces the moment counter at the 3 o’clock position. The moment counter currently encompasses the whole dial, and a separate hand tracks the slipped by minutes. Rather than resetting two counters in the 13ZN, the development presently needs to reset three counters – the second, moment, and hour. This hugely expands the degree of complication in the development and is one motivation behind why these watches are so wanted by collectors.

Longines 13ZN-12 reference 23086.

These came in right around 40 mm cases, with button pushers and a screw-down case back with six notches, combining a military earnestness with a to some degree energetic easygoing quality because of the red moment hand. There are less cased with rectangular pushers, and significantly less cased in gold. These are totally staggering watches, both in plan and mechanical complexity, and extraordinary models are uncommon and consistently in demand.

Longines type 13ZN-12 development. Note the extra parts underneath the segment wheel for the middle moment. (Image by means of Onlyvintage)

These came in both gold and steel cases, with the reference 23086 in steel being the most “common” 13ZN-12 (an expected 500 developments were made altogether). These came in just about 40 mm cases, with button pushers and a screw-down case back with six scores, combining a military earnestness with a fairly lively easygoing quality because of the red moment hand. There are less cased with rectangular pushers, and considerably less cased in gold. These are totally staggering watches, both in plan and mechanical complexity, and incredible models are consistently in demand.


A gold-cased 13ZN in great condition can be found somewhere in the range of $8,000 and $10,000 today, with costs normally expanding with the size of the case. Steel-cased 13ZNs, then again, may start at $8,000 to $10,000 for a fair sized, snapback model in great condition however up to $40,000 (or more) for larger than usual models in mint condition . For reference, a decent condition 13ZN-12 ref 23086 in steel would presumably cost at any rate $50,000 to $60,000 – making it perhaps the most costly Longines watches other than the unicorn-like Siderograph (see here and here ) or A-7. Once more, condition is best – a model in less amazing condition can be found at a critical discount.

A few admonitions however – the 13ZN is quite possibly the most commonly re-dialed models for any vintage chronograph by Longines. The way toward recognizing a unique dial is moreover complicated by the way that Longines themselves had in the past reestablished dials as a feature of their service.

Longines 13ZN – redial. (Image through Sotheby’s)

In general, you would need to see “open” 6’s and 9’s on both the fundamental dial and sub-dials. The markings on the external track ought to be fresh and the 3’s and 5’s ought to generally have level tops. Likewise be keeping watch for the right “Longines” text style for the period. For example, I still can’t seem to see a 13ZN dial printed with the winged hourglass logo underneath on the dial – that was a style during the 1950s when the 30CH supplanted the 13ZN.

Copper versus silvered feet. (Image through omegaforums)

Another technique to check for the inventiveness of the dial is take a gander at the dial “feet.” While this appears to be more episodic, most redials appear to come with “silvered” feet rather than “coppered” feet in the originals.

Matching number on case back and drags. (Image through eBay)

Beyond the dial, you ought to likewise need to see coordinating chronic numbers looking into it and the development for the previous forms of the 13ZN. Longines shockingly halted this training during the 1940s, yet rather stepped the reference number of the watch working on this issue back – either outwardly or inside. All things considered, it merits watching that the a few digits underneath the reference number (which alludes to the creation number of that specific reference) is additionally stepped some place on the rear of the drags, as seen above.

Fascinating Variations On The Flyback Mechanism

Now, before we proceed onward to the improvement of the type 30CH, we need to stray marginally and notice two intriguing models made by Longines during the advancement of the flyback system. Indeed, while the 13ZN was officially the first flyback instrument for large scale manufacturing, there were at least two models of the flyback component before that. The previously depended on the type 13.33Z (of which we just examined) and the second was known as the Caliber 15″‘, which depended on the Valjoux 22GH mechanism.

An illustration of a 13.33Z with flyback. (Image through kronos.freeforums.org)

Another illustration of 13.33Z with flyback. (Image through forums.watchuseek)

The over two models are both type 13.33Z furnished with the flyback work, as seen by the absence of a tooth on the reset switch. These were likely models created before the creation of the type 13ZN, yet it appears to be a few models were appropriated to various retailers. There is a more inside and out conversation on the Italian discussions here and here .

The Valjoux 22GH, then again, has a seriously fascinating story. The following is a section that shows the Longines Caliber 15″.

Longines Valjoux 22GH development, or type 15″. (Image by means of omegaforums)

First, it is intriguing that Longines used Valjoux ebauches right off the bat before the 1970s, so, all in all they started utilizing the Valjoux ebauches as they were generally less expensive than the in-house developments. The majority of these Valjoux developments were monopushers, taking after the 13.33Z in usefulness – as seen by the cut-out above.

But a more profound glance at the first patent, submitted for the flyback instrument, yields an amazing observation.

Original patent for the flyback system. (Image by means of orologi.forumfree.it)

Image submitted for the flyback patent, turned 90 degrees clockwise. (Image by means of orologi.forumfree.it)

Does the development on the correct look natural? Indeed – to be sure, the instrument showed on the patent for the flyback component was really the Valjoux 22GH rather than the 13ZN that you may anticipate. However, was there a Valjoux 22GH with a flyback component that was sold by Longines? Indeed, there was.

Technically the title of first flyback chronograph instrument ought to have a place with the modified Valjoux 22GH instead of the 13ZN.

Longines type 15 – with flyback. Compare this with the outline above. (Image through orologiko.it)

What does this mean? In fact the title of first flyback chronograph component ought to have a place with the adjusted Valjoux 22GH rather than the 13ZN. This is a captivating point that ought to most likely be left to an another time.

The 13ZN development was costly to create, particularly when compared to the ebauches that other significant brands approached. During this timeframe, Longines put vigorously in another round of innovative work to deliver a less expensive rendition of the 13ZN, yet at the same time holding the flyback usefulness that was, around then, interesting to Longines. Subsequent to creating the 13ZN for around 11 years, the 30CH was presented in 1947.

Longines Caliber 30CH

The 30CH had precisely the same usefulness as the 13ZN. It had 17 gems, a width of 29.80 mm and stature of 6.20 mm, and beat at 18,000 vph. The development was likewise normally introduced with a stun opposing ring, a section additionally found in the vast majority of the 13ZN-12 movements.

Longines type 30CH. (Image by means of Matthew Bain, Inc.)

Similarly, notice that the reset switch doesn’t have a tooth (circumnavigated in red). As the reset switch is locked in, the middle chronograph wheel resets (red bolt). Simultaneously, the distension (surrounded in orange) pushes up the wheel that begins the chronograph (orange bolt), and thusly allows it to withdraw when the reset switch is delivered, restarting the chronograph work, creating a succession of developments that takes into account the flyback functionality.


Steel, waterproof Longines 30CH. (Image through VRF)

Gold, waterproof Longines 30CH. (Image through orologi.forumfree.it)

The watches that come with the 30CH were intended to be “sportier” than the 13ZNs, mirroring the style of the occasions. Henceforth a bigger number of the 30CHs can be found in steel, normally in waterproof cases and catch pushers. Gold models of the 30CH can likewise be found in waterproof cases, a style not commonly found in the 13ZN.

The creation of the 30CH (and its variations) traversed approximately 20 years, until the 1970s, when Longines was taken over by Ebauches S.A. what’s more, halted in-house creation of developments, rather selecting to buy ebauches from Valjoux S.A. This essential choice sadly not just brought about the termination of a wonderful chronograph development, yet additionally at last demonstrated worthless even with the Quartz Crisis.


The 30CH family additionally had two different models, the L530 and L538. The L530 is basically a similar development as the 30CH, however was cased in “jump” watches.

Longines type L530. (Image through forum.tz-uk)

Longines Diver, 1967 (Image by means of ChronoTrader)

The plan of this specific model was likewise the motivation for the Longines Heritage Diver (L2.808.4.52.6), which added an hour counter and date show at 5 o’clock.

Longines Nonius flyback. (Image through Bachmann-Scher)

Longines type L538. (Image through ChronoTrader)

The last individual from the family is the Caliber L538, which was a changed 30CH without the sub-seconds counter at 9 o’clock. This was additionally the toward the end in-house chronograph development planned by Longines. As the precision of the chronograph component improved, the development could now precisely time an occasion to one-10th of a second (rather than the beforehand one-fifth).

(Image by means of Iconeek)

Above is an infographic clarifying how the Nonius framework works.

At a similar time, the 30CH development likewise some of the time came without the flyback usefulness. Notice the development beneath, where there is a tooth on the reset switch, in comparison to an ordinary 30CH movement.

Longines 30CH without flyback instrument. (Image through watchstore.exblog.jp)

Once once more, there is little data out there on why such a change was made. In the event that anybody has more data, don’t hesitate to add to the discussion.


Longines 30CH in a gold, waterproof case. (Image through Christies)

The watches that contain the 30CH type are in lesser interest than those with the 13ZN, both due to the more drawn out creation time frame just as the somewhat less “intriguing” dial setups. A decent condition 30CH in steel, with a waterproof case and catch pushers can be found anyplace somewhere in the range of $5,000 and $8,000, with those in gold commanding a comparative cost. Some unblemished models with uncommon dials can arrive at the costs of 13ZNs also. The jumper (L530) and Nonius (L538) varieties can likewise be found at comparable costs, however those are apparently marginally rarer.

Last Words

The Longines 13ZN was quite possibly the most mechanically progressed and lovely chronograph developments at any point to be delivered, even by the present principles. It is one of the principal really in-house chronograph developments, which established Longines’ situation as a head brand back during the twentieth century – and it is unquestionably a guide to pay special mind to in your gathering venture. Later on, in the event that you do come by a vintage watch with “Longines” imprinted on the dial, require a subsequent look – you may very well discover something very interesting.

Patents for mushroom pushers on 13ZN