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Thread: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

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  1. #1
    mparker
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    Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    I'm looking for some info on the older Longines Admiral series. My favorite watchmaker is cleaning and restoring an 18K gold c1954 Admiral 3-Star with a 12.68z movement I acquired recently. It's a lovely piece but I know nothing about Longines and my research online doesn't return much but 5-Star Admirals when I'm searching.

    Can the Longines experts here please help with a little background on this series or point me to a website that might help.

    Thanks & Regards
    Mike Parker
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  2. #2
    ulackfocus
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    Re: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    I'd sure like to see pictures, because to my knowledge the Admiral series didn't exist until the very late 50's at the earliest. I've also never known a 12.68 to be inside one. The Admiral usually came in 14K front-loading cases and had automatic movements from the 34x/35x series. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I really think you have a franken.
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  3. #3
    mparker
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    Re: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    I defer to your expertise Dennis and thanks for taking the time to respond. Based on the little I paid for it I still have a wearable watch. Perhaps I can acquire the proper parts watches to rebuild two authentic Longines in the future. Thanks again for the info. I'll take some images when I get it back. In the meantime:

    The face is white/silverish with an unannotated small seconds at 6. It is clearly marked Admiral with 3 stars underneath.

    The outside of the caseback is marked 18K and 9559316

    The inside of the caseback has several markings scratched into it -
    1) 3578AC

    2) HP473 or perhaps 1P473

    3) 060B/... where ... is unreadable

    4) K inside a circle MARZO
    99
    KIKE

    The movement is clearly marked 12.68z

    I would still like to get some information about the older Admiral series if anyone can help. I like the new versions of the Admiral and the Flagship and would like to learn more about the history. At present all my vintage watches with a couple of exceptions are from Hamilton, Tissot, and Omega.
    Mike Parker
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  4. #4
    ulackfocus
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    Re: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    No doubt the watch will be wearable if the parts fit together properly - which is the case for many vintage Longines. The 12.68 is a really good movement, but was just discontinued by the time the front loading Admiral cases came out. From the markings you might have a South American cased Longines. They're VERY common - a stainless steel Longines would be bought legitimately by a S.Am. Longines dealer, then the movement/dial/hands were installed into a locally made case. The dial might have been taken from a later watch and it just happened to fit.

    What would you like to know about those two lines?

    The Admiral series was actually the name of front loading case which started in late 1958 / early 1959 (thanks to gatorcpa for that tidbit - I had it at 1961). Here's an ad from that time showing it:



    Here's my recently acquired 1960 14K Admiral 340:






    There were plenty of generic no-name Longines made with this case, along with the Grand Prize series (named for the caliber 34x and 35x which was made to honor all the grand prizes Longines won in the competitions) and the Admiral series. They mostly housed the 34x/35x calibers which were introduced in 1960, and they ran into the late 60's / early 70's to my knowledge. The Admiral and Grand Prize were upper-middle end watches that were available in solid 14K gold, gold filled, and stainless steel cases.

    The Flagship series was literally just that - Longines top of the line manual wind watch when it was introduced in the mid/late 50's. They were powered by the caliber 30L or 30LS (S for center sweep seconds) which was the production version of the chronometer competition 30Z. Some of the movements available to the public were even chronometer certified. At first, the Flagship was to be the manual wind compliment to their best automatic: the Conquest series... but they caught on so Longines started offering an automatic Flagship in 1960 that used the 34x just like the Admirals. These came in 18K or stainless steel cases made in Switzerland. The raised relief 3 mast argosy was on the back of the gold case; a gold medallion with the same vessel colored with two tone blue enamel was on the ss version. I'm lucky to have a date-at-12 version, made only in 1961:





    medallion from a ss Flagship:


    picture by JimH


    Towards '63-ish, Longines tried to cash in on the Flagship's popularity by putting other cheaper movements in them. The automatic caliber 380 (based on a Cyma 480) started showing up in place of the 34x, and the manual caliber 490 (based on the Marvin 700) replaced the 30L/30LS. While these are both nice movements, they aren't as nice or as valuable to collectors as their in-house Longines cousins. The raised relief ship even became an etching on some cases, and now they offered different cheaper versions of gold colored cases: filled, capped, and plated. Luckily the higher end 18K Swiss cased models with the better movements were available until around 1967.


    Did that cover it?
    Last edited by ulackfocus; February 23rd, 2011 at 01:53. Reason: typosaurus
    GOJIN, Verdi, adi4 and 1 others like this.
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  5. #5
    tintasuja
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    Re: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    Quote Originally Posted by ulackfocus View Post

    The Flagship series was literally just that - Longines top of the line manual wind watch when it was introduced in the mid/late 50's. They were powered by the caliber 30L or 30LS (S for center sweep seconds) which was the production version of the chronometer competition 30Z. Some of the movements available to the public were even chronometer certified. At first, the Flagship was to be the manual wind compliment to their best automatic: the Conquest series... but they caught on so Longines started offering an automatic Flagship in 1960 that used the 34x just like the Admirals. These came in 18K or stainless steel cases made in Switzerland. The raised relief 3 mast argosy was on the back of the gold case; a gold medallion with the same vessel colored with two tone blue enamel was on the ss version. I'm lucky to have a date-at-12 version, made only in 1961:





    medallion from a ss Flagship:


    picture by JimH


    Towards '63-ish, Longines tried to cash in on the Flagship's popularity by putting other cheaper movements in them. The automatic caliber 380 (based on a Cyma 480) started showing up in place of the 34x, and the manual caliber 490 (based on the Marvin 700) replaced the 30L/30LS. While these are both nice movements, they aren't as nice or as valuable to collectors as their in-house Longines cousins. The raised relief ship even became an etching on some cases, and now they offered different cheaper versions of gold colored cases: filled, capped, and plated. Luckily the higher end 18K Swiss cased models with the better movements were available until around 1967.


    Did that cover it?
    Wow....Love the flagship... In my wishlist...
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  6. #6
    mparker
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    Re: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    Terrific - thanks so much.
    Mike Parker
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  7. #7
    ulackfocus
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    Re: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    Ooops, forgot to add that there was one 18K Flagship with a raised relief argosy on the back that was powered by the caliber 380: the reference 1503. Easy to spot since "1503" is at the bottom ahead of the bow and under the waves:

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  8. #8
    mparker
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    Re: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    Quote Originally Posted by ulackfocus View Post
    I'd sure like to see pictures, because to my knowledge the Admiral series didn't exist until the very late 50's at the earliest. I've also never known a 12.68 to be inside one. The Admiral usually came in 14K front-loading cases and had automatic movements from the 34x/35x series. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I really think you have a franken.
    I spoke to a guy at an AD I do not often visit and was relating the tale of my Longines. He claimed to know a bit about Longines and said that he believed that some Admirals probably did have the 12.68z in Europe and/or South America. I sent a complete description to Longines Museum and got a reply this afternoon. The watch is a franken, as suggested, but it also was an Admiral with a 12.68z movement. It was originally a steel watch with a leather strap sent to a Longines agent in Lima, Peru on Dec 17, 1955. Longines speculates that the case was likely substituted by the agent for the 18K case it has now. I guess that accounts for the lack of an emblem on the back. They did take the time and effort to stamp the serial number into the new case though. As promised, images will be posted when I get it back from the shop.
    Mike Parker
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  9. #9
    ulackfocus
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    Re: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    Quote Originally Posted by mparker View Post
    I spoke to a guy at an AD I do not often visit and was relating the tale of my Longines. He claimed to know a bit about Longines and said that he believed that some Admirals probably did have the 12.68z in Europe and/or South America. I sent a complete description to Longines Museum and got a reply this afternoon. The watch is a franken, as suggested, but it also was an Admiral with a 12.68z movement. It was originally a steel watch with a leather strap sent to a Longines agent in Lima, Peru on Dec 17, 1955. Longines speculates that the case was likely substituted by the agent for the 18K case it has now. I guess that accounts for the lack of an emblem on the back. They did take the time and effort to stamp the serial number into the new case though. As promised, images will be posted when I get it back from the shop.
    Yep, a S. American case as suspected. Good to know that little tidbit about 12.68Z Admirals in the mid- to late-50's though.
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  10. #10
    mparker
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    Re: Vintage Longines Admiral Series

    Mystery Solved!

    I got the watch back from my watchmaker. I took a good look at it under a gemscope and discovered that the only thing Longines about this watch is the movement (now fully serviced) and the logo on the face. The close up inspection revealed that the dial is a very poor repainted version that may or may not have been Longines to start. Under proper magnification the stars, markers, and miniute track are very amatuerish. The gold replacement case is hand hammered and nicely done but will bring only scrap gold prices. I think the solution is for me to find a proper but disfunctional Longines that needs a new 12.68z and a crystal.

    Thanks Ulack for your time and info in your earlier posts.

    One thing I did discover though is that the 12.68z was used in Longines from S. America up until around 1972. Any Admirals coming from there may not have been authentic though. A good lesson learned I think. Had I known as much about vintage Longines as I do about Omega I might have passed on the purchase in the first place. Still, considering the buy price and the service cost I have a good chance of getting all or most of my $$ back on the scrap value.
    Mike Parker
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