It seems that the world of horology has been taken over by two trends over the past decade or so, blue integrated sports watches, and green dive watches. Every brand has been engaged in a cold war era arms race to produce the best of these two fads. An arms race that has been all but won by two global superpowers, Patek Philippe with their Nautilus have staked claim to being the kings of all things integrated bracelet. Rolex, raining supreme with their famed but now discontinued, Green Submariner, a behemoth of the industry aptly named, the Hulk.
The industries lesser powers have been fighting to keep up with the demand and surge in popularity of the aforementioned icons. With that surge, and such low supply, the masses have flocked to pre-owned markets, the grey market, for the chance to pay near double the RRP and have the privilege of owning the most famous green dive watch. Thankfully, in an attempt to share in the hysteria, brands have rushed to offer their own versions of pieces like the Submariner Hulk, offering consumers viable alternatives in which to spend their hard-earned money.
The Longines HydroConquest green, is one such alternative, but is it a true Hulk buster? or just another puny watch in a bright green suit?
Editors note: The model reviewed in this feature is reference L3.781.4.06.9 the 41mm variant which is supplied on the green rubber strap. Other models are available for configuration, including 43mm case sizes and stainless-steel bracelets. No opinion is offered by the reviewer as to the quality or design of the stainless-steel bracelet provided by Longines on other references.
I have had the opportunity to live with the Longines HydroConquest green for about 3 months prior to writing this review, when I first received the watch, I was a little cautious as to how the piece would wear. On my 17cm wrist, a 41mm diver on an integrated rubber strap has the potential to wear quite large. So it was to my pleasant surprise that the Longines HydroConquest green, is one of the most comfortable dive watches I have ever worn on rubber. The 41mm case made from 316L stainless-steel, sits at a surprisingly slender 12mm thick. The case sits down tightly on the wrist due in part to a gradual decline towards the end of the lugs, the case and strap forming one continuous curve downwards, completing their journey at the base of the wearer’s wrist. There are no flat discs popping up or out, the watch forms itself to you seamlessly and holds steady throughout the day.
The case flanks are brushed horizontally to match the direction of the vertical brushing on the lugs. For such a utilitarian timepiece, the use of a fully brushed case (and clasp) helps to reduce the effect of any blemishes that may arise from daily use. After my 3 months with the Longines HydroConquest green, I noticed only very minor delicate marks to the clasp. Crown-side of the case, Longines incorporate strong monolithic crown guards, which sit out from the case in a near triangular form. Ordinarily crown guards of this size and stature would interfere with the operation of the crown, not so in the case of the HydroConquest. The crown of the watch is equally as grand as the guards. Long, deep ridges extend from its base to the edge of the crown guards, then Longines have added a deep recess into the end of the crown which makes it extremely easy to grip and operate. Unthreading the crown is simple thanks to all of the clean edges and grip added, it is finished with the only high polished section of the watch, which sports Longines’ winged hourglass logo.
Sitting atop the case of the watch is a deep lustrous, green ceramic bezel insert. Although the bezel insert itself is not particularly vibrant, the use of ceramic here certainly lends the matte colour an extra level of depth and intrigue. In traditional dive watch fashion, the bezel is lumed, with a 15-minute track extending from the sunken lume pip at 12 O’clock. From there, each subsequent 5 minutes is denoted either by Arabic numerals or a single index. I found the knurling on the bezel to be more than adequate, the grooves were cut precisely and offered adequate grip even when wet. Each anti-clockwise rotation offered a satisfying click, with no bounce or back play to be found. The only issue I did note from the bezel was that the triangle at 12 did not quite line up with the marker on the dial. The misalignment was maybe only half a millimetre, but it was the kind of thing that once you’ve noticed, you can’t help but notice it all the time.
The dial of the Longines HydroConquest green, is a personal highlight of the timepiece. Opting not to go for a flamboyant bright sunburst pattern, as one might expect from a brands flagship ceramic dive watch. Longines instead have shown magnificent restraint. The brand offering a matte textured khaki green to adorn the dial of their watch. The contrast between the depth of the green ceramic bezel, and the delicately dimpled matte dial is a credit to Longines’ design department.
Applied Arabic numerals, filled with bright SuperLuminova, denote 12, 6, and 9 O’clock, leaving an equally bright white date wheel to replace the 3 O’clock numeral. On the dial it’s the little things that Longines have gotten spot on here. Applied circular hour markers, equally filled with SuperLuminova, sit outside the Arabic’s, but in between a printed minute track. The date wheel replaces the numeral 3, but is still flanked by an hour marker like its counterpart numeral 9. The 12 and 6 numerals forgo the need for an outboard hour marker but instead are flanked by slightly thicker minute track indications. Print on the dial is minimal and precise, “Longines” and the brands logo are all that sits above the pinion, “Automatic” and “30 bar 300 meter” below.
Longines seems to have put a heavy focus on symmetry and balancing the dial layout of the HydroConquest. The only step away from that balance is the inclusion of a date wheel, however Longines has done a great job in the date’s incorporation so as to not completely throw off the balance of the dial. A no date variant with a large Arabic numeral 3 in its stead, would be a nice addition to the line up in future.
Below the dial and secured with a solid screw down case back, beats Longines Calibre L888. What is effectively a rebranded ETA A31.L02, the automatic movement provides the watch with a reliable 64 hours of power reserve and a beat rate of 25,200vph. I found the movement to be perfectly reliable and surprisingly accurate, over the course of 3 months, the watch ran consistently at +4-6 seconds per day. One quirk of the watch that I did note however, the date setting function runs counter intuitively. Scrolling the crown clockwise moved the date, rather than the more familiar anti-clockwise date scroll that most wristwatches utilize. This peculiarity of the movement did leave me, on more than one occasion, scrolling through what I thought was a date change, only to have nothing happen and then remember that this watch works backwards.
Fixing the watch to the wrist is one of the most comfortable and sturdy integrated rubber straps I have had the privilege of wearing. The strap is colour matched somewhere between the matte dial, and the ceramic bezel. It’s definitely khaki, but it’s a khaki between the two colour reference points on the head of the watch. The strap has a thin band of smooth flat border which holds a dimpled textured rubber, a texture that simulates a fine weaving across and down the strap. The band itself is about the thickness of the lugs at its connection to them, it then tapers and slims slightly from its annoyingly unconventional, 21mm size to the brushed steel clasp. The clasp is in keeping with the balanced and utilitarian design of the watch, minimally branded with just the brands name and logo stamped into its brushed finish.
Twin triggers release into a full milled deployant buckle, which features some level of micro adjustment, and a very satisfying and reassuring click when locked back into place. The micro adjustment coupled with the ability to cut the rubber strap to suit your required length, made the HydroConquest sit on my wrist like a dream. Some wearers may have slight difficulty finding the perfect fit, but I do feel that between cutting and adjusting the strap, most wrist sizes are catered for.
The Longines HydroConquest green has almost everything going for it. It’s a green ceramic dive watch in a modern 41 or 43 mm case size. It is manufactured by one of the Swiss watch industries oldest and most respected brands, backed by the might of the Swatch group. The watch is powered by a reliable Swiss automatic movement, and comes fitted with an integrated strap. By rights and all things being equal, the Longines HydroConquest green should have a waitlist longer than your local yellow pages. It doesn’t though, and at $2,400 AUD the watch can be had right now in stores. The Longines HydroConquest green may very well be the best bang for your buck dive watch coming out of Switzerland today. If you are like so many people who have fallen for the green dialled charm of the Submariner Hulk but cant bear to pay the premium being asked to purchase it, go out and get the Longines HydroConquest green on your wrist, you will not be disappointed.