Longines VHP Review
At Basel World 2017, Longines released an innovative and fascinating watch called the VHP. And no one ever talked about it. You could call this watch a "heritage" piece of sorts, although I'd call it more of a revival. Back in the dawning ages of quartz, Longines was one of the major Swiss players, attempting to attract people to their high-end quartz pieces by offering higher accuracy, better battery life, and better build quality. They did this through their VHP (Very High Precision) line. Ultimately, as we all know too well, the Swiss as a whole chose to pursue high end mechanical as their niche in order to survive the quartz crisis. While certain Swiss brands (Omega, Breitling etc) have dabbled in some quartz watches, the most impressive HAQ (high accuracy quartz) pieces have come out of Japan from the likes of Seiko with its 9F Movement, or Citizen. Prior to Longines reviving the VHP, I would have said that the Grand Seiko 9F quartz movement was the most impressive quartz movement out there. However, Longines has far surpassed the capabilities of the 9F in my mind, to create a quartz watch that's truly impressive. Let's check it out.
Lug Distance: 20mm
Lug-to-lug distance: 49.79mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Water Resistance: 50 meters
The VHP case design borrows heavily from its siblings in the Conquest line. Ultimately, it's nothing crazy. The case of the VHP is fairly conservative in style, with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces to jazz it up. Along the right side of the case at the 3 o'clock position is a monster crown that Longines refers to as its "Magic crown", and across the back side of the watch is the Longines conquest engraving.
With it being a quartz piece, the case does seem rather unnecessarily thick. I almost get the feeling that Longines just used some old Conquest cases from the warehouse without altering it for the VHP line. It's not uncomfortably thick by any means, but by comparison to a competing Swiss Quarts like the Breitling Aerospace, it's a considerable difference. All in all, the watch wears comfortably on my 6.75" wrist.
This is where the VHP really shines, and is the reason I had to have one. Given its name, you would expect a crazy amount of accuracy here, and the VHP definitely delivers, with Longines quoting an expected accuracy of +/- 5 seconds per year. To compare that to the competition, the Grand Seiko 9F's accuracy is stated to be +/- 10 seconds per year. To achieve this amount of accuracy, Longines worked with ETA directly to develop this movement to revive their VHP line. What they created, was a thermo-compensated quartz movement, with a perpetual calendar, gear-position detection system, shock correction system, end-of-life indicator, and a smart crown to operate it all with.
In addition to its extreme accuracy, the VHP also sports a number of other nifty features. For example, the watch is able to detect and protect itself from magnetic fields, as well as shock. When the watch detects magnetism or a shock (Longines states a drop from a meter), the watch immediately stops the movement of the hands to protect the mechanics of the watch. When the danger is clear, the movement resumes movement, and the hands catch up to the time lost.
The watch can also be set into a sleep mode when not in use by pulling the crown out for 2 minutes, during this mode the hands will reset to 12 and stay there until the crown is pushed back in, removing the watch from sleep mode. When coming out of sleep mode, the hands fly to the correct time, and the date window ticks over to the proper date. It's an event I look forward to the days that I wear the VHP.
Now, back to that smart crown that I mentioned earlier. The VHP's crown allows for a quick, large turn to adjust the hour separately, or a small turn to adjust the minutes. Essentially what this allows is for you to adjust to a new time zone, or to adjust for the change of daylight savings, without having to ruin the perfectly set time. Even more impressive, Longines sets the time on these down to the second, then puts the watch into sleep mode before packaging. Upon arriving, all one has to do is adjust the hours to their time zone, and now they have a perfectly set watch that will only deviate by 5 seconds a year. To keep you from accidentally ruining the perpetual calendar, the VHP only allows you change the time by 24 hours, ensuring the calendar stays in sync.
It should be clear by this point that I'm absolutely floored by the capabilities of this movement. With it being designed by ETA and part of the Swatch family, I hope that we see this movement utilized by other companies within that group.
Dial, Crystal, & Bezel
The VHP face, like the case design, is rather plain. You have applied numerals at 12 and 6, and applied indices for the other hour markers. Red accents support the dial to give it a small pop of color, and match the red tipped seconds hand. What is cool, though, is the concentric circle texturing of the dial. It helps to add some depth and personality to the dial, and the metallic finish allows the watch to really play with the light.
As you'd expect, the crystal is sapphire. No dome present here though, this crystal is flat and flush with the bezel. Bezel-wise, we're looking at a fixed, polished finish bezel. Overall, the VHP has a clean, classic aesthetic, which is perfectly fine by me.
I was looking forward to wearing this watch on the bracelet due to the excellent construction and design. That was until, I tried to size it. The bracelet has no half-links, or micro-adjusts in the clasp. Which means that unless you're lucky enough to have a wrist that fits in those half-inch increments perfectly, you'll either be wearing this bracelet very loose, or very tight. For me, I couldn't comfortably wear it, so the bracelet has remained unused. That being said, the bracelet construction is solid, and looks fantastic on the watch.
The VHP marks a fascinating piece in the world of HAQ, and offers aspects that I believe most watch nerds would find interesting, despite it being quartz. It's no double flying tourbillon GMT chronograph, but it offers a high degree of innovation at a price point mortals can swallow. At just $1,000 direct from Longines, there's a lot of value here; a movement more accurate than the Grand Seiko 9F at a fraction of the cost, a nicely styled aesthetic, and a quality bracelet. That's going to be hard to beat within its price bracket.
I'm a firm believer that everyone needs at least one quartz watch in their collection, and you'd be hard pressed to find a quartz piece as impressive as the VHP. Check it out further on the Longines website: https://www.longines.com/novelties/conquest-vhp