Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2007-2013, 2015-Present Longines HydroConquest in Blue L3.642.4.96.6

The HydroConquest is a relatively affordable line of Swiss dive watches produced by Longines since 2007. The line went relatively unchanged until 2013, when a fully Arabic dial version of the HydroConquest was launched (see my earlier review here). Curiously, after only two years, that version was dropped and the original iteration introduced in 2007 found itself back in Longines' catalog. It is this current version, in blue, which is the subject of this review.

2007-2013, 2015-Present HydroConquest.
The 2007-2013, 2015-present HydroConquest bears a lot of similarities with its 2013-2015 brother, but both have unique design elements that makes it virtually impossible to confuse one over the other. The most obvious difference is in the dial.

The current dial features applied numeric markers on the 12, 6, and 9 o'clock positions, and similarly applied circular and linear indices for the rest of the hours. These dial elements give the watch face a more upscale demeanor than the printed Arabic numerals on the 2013-2015 HydroConquest, though at the expense of simplicity, as the overall appearance can come across as being quite busy. Tastes obviously vary,  and I personally like both dial styles, though I have to admit the 12-6-9 dial strikes me as being a tad more eye-catching, perhaps in part to the sunburst blue dial.

Dimensions (41mm case diameter, 50mm lug-to-lug, 11mm thickness, 21mm lug width) as well as most other design details of the watch head are similar, from the applied Longines winged logo, the date window at 3 o'clock, the beveled and rhodium-plated  hands, the snowflake hour hand, the red-tipped lumeless second hand, the polished sides and brushed top, the angular crown guards surrounding a highly polished crown, up to the highly detailed engraving of Longines' hourglass logo on the caseback. Topping off the entire package is a 120-click rotating dive bezel with an aluminum insert and a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.

The bracelets are basically similar in design, use of split pins and the lack of half-links and all, though the finishing is different. The 2013-2015 HydroConquest's bracelet is brushed all the way, while the current HydroConquest features polished center links, contributing to its slightly more upscale vibe.

Lastly this version of the HydroConquest uses an Elaboré grade ETA 2824-2 L633 movement, instead of the ETA 2892-A2 based L619 in the 2013-2015 model. The 2892-A2 movement is generally considered to be slightly higher end than a 2824-2, but for this implementation, hardly any differences in performance can be perceived.

So, which one to get? Both versions have their advantages and disadvantages, but the main point for deciding to go one way or the other has to be the preference for the dial design. The 2013-2015 HydroConquest has a cleaner, simpler design with the use of printed Arabic numerals, at the slight expense of looking like an ordinary field watch. The current model has a more distinctive and more upscale appearance, at the slight expense of design simplicity, with perhaps too many design elements on the dial itself.

Overall, despite the "Hydro" in the model name and the 300m water resistance rating, this watch is seemingly more of a desk diver than an actual tool diver, for the same reasons given in my review of the 2013-2015 HydroConquest, particularly in regard to poor lume performance, an unlumed second hand, the smooth sections of the timing bezel, and the oversized, sharp-edged crown guards.

From the perspective of a desk diver, it is more than up to the task, and despite its design shortcomings, it is still a fully capable dive watch.

While the 2013-2015 model seems to have been discontinued, it is still somewhat relatively easy to come by with new stocks still available, not to mention their availability in the second hand market. Because of the relatively short production run, it is speculated that the older version may very well end up as a collector's item or a future classic. While that may or may not happen, the current model is no slouch itself in terms of appearances. You won't go wrong regardless of version you opt for. Price for the current version is around 1,000 USD from authorized dealers or online retailers, but you can likely get one at a lower price if you look around.

In a future post I'll making a more detailed photographic comparison between the two HydroConquest versions. For now, here are some more photos of the current model:

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