Longines Admiral Ref. 8557 (Longines Cal. 508)…
This Longines Admiral diver is certainly a colourful start to the new year.
(Click pictures to enlarge)
Much of the vintage output from Longines had a very classical feel but for brief period between 1968-75 a range of colourful divers and chronographs crept into the model line up, this Admiral diver being one of them. The blue dial and bright orange bezel certainly make a statement but given how few of them are around these days compared with other models in the range, I wonder if the large oval case and contrasting design may have been a step too far, even for the early 1970’s.
Before becoming part of the Swatch group and switching to ETA based calibres, Longines produced some excellent quality in-house calibres. Like the 30L and Ultra-Chron models I’ve written about in the past, the movement in this Admiral diver is another fine example of their work, the cal. 508 – a 21 jewel, bi-directional winding automatic with a beat rate of 21,600 bph and a micrometer regulator. The watch also has a quickset for the date activated by depressing the crown.
As you can see from the pictures above, the case was in decent shape but pretty scruffy and the mineral crystal had picked up a few scratches from daily use. The movement inside was running and relatively clean but looking at the condition of the oils under the microscope I could see that it hadn’t had a full service for quite some time.
The case was fully disassembled and cleaned in the ultrasonic tank and a new crystal and gaskets were ordered to replace the tired originals – it’s worth noting that care should always be taken when levering off the friction fit bezels on all these colourful diver’s watches as the bezel insert is made from acrylic (or bakelite maybe?) and can crack if flexed too much.
The movement service was straight forward with no hidden surprises so the only thing left to do was refresh the tired lume in the hands with a vintage cream lume before the watch could be rebuilt.
With a case size of 44 x 49mm and a lug width of 24mm, strap choices are limited but the Rodania strap found by the owner was a good match and is a similar design to the Longines strap that would have been originally fitted. The watch was also available originally with a full stainless steel bracelet which is near impossible to find these days.
To finish off this post, here is the watch with a couple of the other colourful stable mates from the same period.
On the left is an early 1970’s Ultronic diver (ref. 8484), powered by a pre-quartz, electronic tuning fork or ‘hummer’ calibre, the cal. 6312, and on the right is another popular vintage diver, the Ultra-Chron “Super Compressor” (ref. 8221-2) powered by Longines’ high beat cal. 431 . It may be of interest to any fans of this watch that Longines re-issued a modern version of this model (along with its chronograph sibling) in 2014, albeit with red rather than orange accents.
** Many thanks to Chris Harrison for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **