Hiren Kumar Bose on the maiden flight of aviator Charles Lindbergh and Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch
“The life of an aviator seemed to me ideal. It involved skill. It brought adventure. It made use of the latest developments in science. Mechanical engineers were fettered to factories and drafting boards while pilots have the freedom of the wind with the expanse of sky. There were times in an airplane when it seemed I had escaped mortality to look down on earth like a God” wrote the man who changed public opinion on the value of air travel laying the foundation for the future development of aviation.
That man was Charles Lindbergh, whom the newspapers called “the flying fool” who planned to cross the Atlantic flew on a single-engine driver plane, named “Spirit of St. Louis, without the assistance of a co-pilot, a parachute, and a radio, opting to include more gasoline.
On May 20, 1927, 7:52 a.m., the “Spirit of St. Louis” accelerated down the runway off Long Island and lifted into the sky while a crowd of 500 watched. Its destination: Le Bourget airport near Paris. At the controls was Charles A. Lindbergh.
Wrote Lindbergh later: “I first saw the lights of Paris a little before 10 p.m., or 5 p.m., New York time, and a few minutes later I was circling the Eiffel Tower at an altitude of about four thousand feet.”
Thirty-three and a half hours later and having travelled over 3,600 miles, Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget in Paris after completing the first ever non-stop solo transatlantic flight. A crowd of 100,000 swarmed around the plane, hoisting the pilot on their shoulders and cheering his achievement.
On June 16, 1927, Charles Lindbergh received a $25,000 prize in New York from Raymond Orteig, the New York City hotel owner who offered the Orteig Prize for the first non-stop transatlantic flight between New York City and Paris.
Following his transatlantic solo flight from New York to Paris in 33 hours and 30 minutes, timed by Longines, Charles Lindbergh conceived the design of the Hour Angle Watch whose production was then entrusted to Longines. As official timekeeper for the World Air Sports Federation, Longines contributed to the homologation of this prowess by timing Lindbergh’s flight and adding it to the list of aviation records.
Demonstrating its invaluable contribution to the development of manned flight, Longines’ Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch was soon instrumental in setting several new world records. In 1931, for instance, it helped Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon to complete the first direct single-engine transpacific flight from Japan to the state of Washington, in the US, Amelia Earhart to set new woman’s solo transcontinental and transatlantic flying records in 1932, Amy Johnson to fly solo from England to South Africa and back, Paul Codos and Maurice Rossi to set a new New York to Syria flying record, Wiley Post to establish a new solo round-the-world speed record in seven days 18 hours and 49 minutes or Henry T. Merrill and Jack Lambie whose same-day round trip from New York to London was wildly celebrated.
Produced again in 2006 in its original 47.5 mm diameter size, this time with a state-of-the-art self-winding movement. In commemoration of the 80th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s exploit the same watch was enhanced in 18-ct gold and issued in is limited to 80 pieces.
Even today, the Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch by Longines remains an impressive achievement. This unique sky-born partnership has proved durably beneficial to the advancement both of horology and of aerial navigation.
2017 happens to be the 90th anniversary of Lindbergh’s solo flight and Longines in order to commemorate the event has launched The Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch 90th Anniversary watch, a new edition of the legendary timepiece in a numbered series limited to 90 watches.
Equally as impressive as the original timepiece, this model measures 47.5 mm, which makes it easier to read and manipulate in the dark and when subjected to the vibrations that were common to aircraft of the era. It will draw the attention of admirers when worn on the wrist of today’s modern adventurers. Equipped with a rotating bezel that allows for correction of the equation of time and a rotating central dial that allows for synchronization to the second, this timepiece indicates the hour angle in degrees and in minutes in addition to indicating hours, minutes and seconds.
In addition, Longines has decided to celebrate the 90th year of the flight by creating a $25,000 prize, awarded each year to an adventurer or pioneer who has achieved a feat in his field, all in the spirit of elegance and performance dear to the brand. This award will be presented for the first time in New York on May 21, 2018, the anniversary of the arrival of the famous aviator in Paris.