Over the last 30 years, the diameters of men's watches have inflated (and inflated) with most being 40 millimeters across today, give or take a few. By comparison, this 1940s Longines is a minuscule 31mm—and you should be wearing it, anyway. Unusual, yes, but for context, the Longines Calatrava isn't the only watch from the first half of the twentieth century to come in close to the 30mm mark. The original Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 96 is just a hair under 31mm and is still much sought after by collectors.
The dial on this beauty is a multicolored bullseye-style dial, with a lighter gold ring between two darker gold areas, which makes the watch look bigger. The clean numerals are easy to read, and the central seconds hand keeps clutter at bay.
Looking at the case, it has a warm, rosy, gold tone (not quite full-on rose gold) that makes the watch look as if it's almost 80-years-old (and more expensive than it is). That color is surface-level, using an old-school plating technique called "gold fill." The core is steel, but it's not showing through the fill at all, so only the wearer will know. And that unique color? The fill here is actually 10 karat, not the more common 14 karat used on most gold fill watches at the time. Pretty cool.
On the caseback, you can still see the "10k Gold Filled" hallmark, which tells us two things: 1) the watch is in great condition, as such little engravings as this are first to get rubbed out, and 2) the English markings indicate that the watch was probably sold in the United States originally. If you pop the back off, though, you can see the hand-wound movement, which has very traditional architecture, with the visible wheels and large gears to the right of the balance.
Which brings us back to this watch's size.
There's no way around the fact that wearing a 31mm watch in 2015 is going to draw some attention. There will definitely be nay-sayers. Don't listen to them. This is a beautiful watch, and the size is what keeps it at a reasonable price. Oversized calatravas get all the attention, and every millimeter or two added to the diameter would double the price here.
This Longines is available from the Cosimo Watches and is priced at €1,100 ($1,215).
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