Watches cannot be separated from the military. Although the utterly strong impact of war on human existence should not be minimised, we cannot help but be fascinated by the range of legendary watchmaking creations designed for soldiers from all across the world. Among these relatively famous military watches, the Majetek pilot watch by Longines has a distinctive simplicity and unexpected beauty. This model was delivered to the Czech Air Force soldiers in the late 1930s and early 1940s, similarly to Eterna and Lemania watches. The model displayed a characteristic cushion-shaped case, a black dial and simple Arabic numerals. At the time, its overall design was minimalistic, easy to read by the wearer with no embellishments.
In 1935 to be exact, Longines designed a watch for the military known as the “3582” reference, per the request of the Czechoslovakian Air Forces. They had given very precise specifications: among these, an easy-to-handle, moving, rotating bezel, luminescent indices and a cushion-shaped case. Longines later registered this unprecedented design for protection on April 1st 1935, at the Bern Industrial Property Organisation office. The watches, then stamped with “Majetek Vojenské Spravy” – or “Property of the Military Administration” – have equipped thousands of Czech pilots. These soldiers were determined to keep fighting even after their troops were demobilised, and left their country to join the Allied forces under the British RAF, where they served in the famous 310th, 311th, 312th and 313th squadrons.
Longines Pilot Majetek: (re)birth
Today, 90 years after it was first introduced, the Majetek has come out of Longines’ archives and received a modern makeover to fit the current trends while staying true to the general design of the 1935 timepiece. Its proportions were revisited, but the overall model has kept a cushion-shaped, slightly more curved case with rounded lugs.
This 2023 version of the Pilot Majetek displays a larger case, with a 43-mm diameter instead of the original 40 mm. This new tool watch by Longines was crafted in steel and equipped with a screwed-in caseback displaying a commemorative plaque engraved with “1935”. It shows off a charming tough design with its black, matte, textured dial. Like in the original, a subdial with a small second flies over the dial at 6 o’clock. Along with the fluted bezel, this highlights the functional aspect of this pilot watch. Besides, it displays white, Arabic numerals which were artificially aged, embossed, painted and coated in Old Radium SuperLuminova. The Maison also added a classic railway track minute scale, a treat for purists. For the hands, they chose a classic baton shape with a rhodium-plated, phosphorescent tip ensuring optimum visibility of the piece.
Most importantly, as a tribute to the original model, the Pilot Majetek has kept its fluted rotating bezel combined with a moving, luminescent, triangle-shaped tracker called the “Starting time indicator”. This system, which enables the wearer to keep a record of previous times, is placed above the dial and independently fixed underneath the sapphire crystal. In 1935, the bezel and crystal rotated as one unit. The sapphire crystal is now fixed, which increases the water resistance of the new case up to 100 metres. As for the movement, Longines decided to power their latest creation with an exclusive in-house calibre equipped with a silicon, anti-magnetic balance spring of a 72-hour power reserve. This movement was certified by the COSC.
Finally, this neo-vintage design watch comes dressed in various strap options: you can choose between a brown or green leather strap with beige topstitching, or a khaki fabric NATO strap for 100% military vibes.