Following a string of successful releases in its Spirit Collection last year, Longines have come out swinging in 2023–this time, with an important addition to its Heritage Avigation Collection. The Longines Pilot Majetek reaches deep into the brand’s back catalogue for a relatively obscure reference, originally designed for Czech pilots. First launched in 1935, the Majetek was produced into the late 1940s. This latest iteration is a relatively faithful recreation, with a dash of contemporary styling and function. But it also exhumes a largely forgotten piece of aviation history, further solidifying the brand’s role in the development of pilot’s watches and navigation itself.
The Pilot Majetek sports a redesigned 43mm cushion case that retains much of the original aesthetic, while also bringing the watch into the 21st century with thoughtful additions like partial crown guards and a bolder lug configuration. The earlier model, at 40mm, was considered “oversized” at the time, and one might argue that the newest inventive maintains that spirit. Of course, what attracts the eye first is the striking fluted bezel, which manipulates a triangular indicator on the outside of the dial, allowing the wearer to track elapsed time. The bi-directional mechanism is friction controlled and very smooth in operation.
Despite small changes in text and hands, the Majetek dial looks largely the same with prominent, raised Arabics on the hours, a lovely vintage-styled small seconds register, and a railway track in the chapter ring to precisely trace minutes and seconds. The dial itself is a subtly textured matte black, allowing the fauxtina colouring of the other elements to really stand out. I should note that I am pleased with the colour choice here, as a sharp white might have overpowered. In the dark, the Old Radium Super-Luminova really shines.
The crown here is a perfect size for easy manipulation and screwed down, ensuring a decent 100m of water resistance. The case back has been left rough-brushed, and the text–while different from the original–harkens back to its pragmatic, military simplicity. It is attached to the case by four screws. In commemoration of the earlier watch, a metal plate, bearing the date 1935, has also been integrated into the side of the midcase.
Powering the Pilot Majetek is the Longines-exculsive L893.6. It’s an automatic movement with anti-magnetic protection up to 600 gauss, and it’s odd beat rate of 3.5Hz helps provide 72 hours of power reserve–making the watch weekend proof. To boot, it is a COSC-certified chronometer.
The Majetek comes in three strap options, including a padded green or brown vintage-style leather, as well as a fabric NATO fashioned partly from receycled materials.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel or Titanium|
51mm Lug to Lug
22mm Lug Width
Screw Down Crown
100m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Domed Sapphire Crystal|
/w Double-Coated AR
Matte Black Dial
Old Radium Super-LumiNova
Magnetic Resistance to 600 Gauss
72-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Leather Band (Green/Brown)|
or Recycled Fabric NATO
Longines Pilot Majetek
Majetek is short for the Czech phrase “Majetek Vojenské Správy.” In English it means “Property of the Military.” Longines began making the original for the Czech air force in 1935 and produced them through WWII, before finally discontinuing the model in 1948. Like the reissue, the pilot’s watch was fitted with a rotating fluted bezel that indicated elapsed time. However, the bezel in the earlier model was attached to the crystal, and when turned, the crystal also rotated. The radium-filled hands and bold Arabics of that earlier inventive allowed pilots to easily read the time at night on the black dial. The triangular indicator, too, was treated in the luminescent material, to aid flyers with navigation and timing bombing runs. That watch employed three different calibres over the years of its production: the 15.94, 15.26 and 15.68Z. Even back then, the watch was equipped with a cushion case. It was highly anti-magnetic and shock proof, and equipped with an “unbreakable” crystal. Many of the original references have the aforementioned phrase engraved upon the case back.
Following the annexation and German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, a number of Czech pilots escaped to England via France. Those men were eventually patriated into the RAF. Bearing Longines’ watches, the Czech contingent played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain. While more than two dozen Czech pilots were officially recognized as flying “aces,” Josef Frantisek, downed 17 Nazi planes in only 28 days during September of 1940.
At 43mm in diameter, the Majetek is not a small watch. However, it is the 51mm lug to lug which will probably make or break your decision to buy. On the leather band, I find the watch does not sit satisfactorily on my 6 3/4″ wrist. That being said, when on the NATO, the Majetek is as comfortable as any timepiece in my collection. It is also thinner than many of my divers and most of my mechanical chronographs.
The matte dial of the Majetek is a wonder–appearing deep grey or green, one moment; stark black the next. The juxtaposition of its utilitarian aesthetic, surrounded by the refinement of its bezel, is quite distinctive. It feels robust and oozes vintage charm, while offering all the advantages of a modern tool watch. Its exclusive, chronometer-certified movement is a big draw. On wrist, the Majetek wears like a Seiko diver, in that it belies its dimensions to some degree, but commands attention. On a NATO, I could wear this every day. With a back catalogue matched by few other Swiss brands, Longines have made an inspired choice in the Pilot Majetek. It’s different. It’s bold. And it tells a great story.
The Longines Pilot Majetek starts at $3750USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
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4 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: Longines Pilot Majetek”
The cushion case combination with the fluted bezel sure is something else!
The Longines Majetek’s revival by the brand was very well-executed – great move.
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Yes please!! I love Longines with a passion, they don’t make everything perfectly but it’s very when they don’t. This is perfect
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I big surprise for me