I have been collecting Beta 21 watches for well over a decade, and this amazing Longines is one of my absolute favourites; it has been in my collection for a year and is now only for sale because I found a new old stock example which holds a special place in my collection.
The Beta programme was a co-operation between 20 Swiss firms, not all of whom were watch manufacturers; they were Rado, Omega, Bulova, Longines, Rolex, IWC, Patek Philippe, Favre-Leuba, Movado, Zenith, Zodiac, Doxa, Elgin, Le Coultre, Cyma, Borel, Eberhard, Juvenia, Ebel & Bucherer-Credos. The non watch partners were parts manufacturers, movement makers and the Swiss Watch Federation
However, bringing it to market was not so simple; firstly, although the Beta 2 was the world’s first quartz wristwatch it wasn’t the first production quartz wristwatch, that honour fell to Seiko, who had launched their Astron watch some four months prior to the Beta 21’s launch. The next problem was that the movement was large, in fact, for the time, it was huge; measuring 30.9mm x 26.5mm x 7mm; meaning that any watch in which it was fitted also needed to be large. However, the market at this time looked for slimness, for example Audemars were making their famed 9 douzieme movement, which was less than 2mm thick. Longines were a very independent firm at this time and didn’t want their watch to look like any other Beta 21, so they rotated the movement through 45° and installed it diagonally into the case, leaving the recessed winder at 4:30.
As I mentioned above, Longines were a very independent firm at the time & produced all of their own movements, apart from the Beta 21. And so, very soon after launching this model, they withdrew from the consortium and launched the Ultra Quartz which contained a movement of their own design. Making this model one of the most rare of the Beta 21s as it was produced for such a short period.
Although this watch is forty years old, it is very much a watch of today; its bold size and styling fit right in with today’s styling trends in the watch industry; and despite the fact that the dial says ‘Quartz’; like all Beta 21 watches, it has a continuously sweeping seconds hand, just like a mechanical watch as the Beta 21s did not use a stepping motor for the seconds.
Like all Beta 21 watches, the case is a massive but very sophisticated design; essentially it is tonneau shaped, but with contrasting facets and finishes, there is a brushed sunburst finish on the case top and highly polished case sides. It has a screw back, which bears the model number, 15 and the case number 755866, whilst inside it bears the reference 8444 1 and the company name & logo.
The movement, as I said, is huge, it has 13 jewels, is unadjusted and is signed Longines and numbered 00005172 and also bears the Longines calibre reference 6412.
The dial is stunning, it is brushed silver with a grey minute track, huge three dimensional applied diamond cut indices which stand like eagles’ beaks above the dial, above the 6 are the words Quartz Chron separated by a block of blue lacquer. The hands are faceted parallel index style with polished surfaces and tritium inserts.
The case is 95+%, the dial is 98% and the movement is also in 95+% condition.
It measures 42mm long, 42mm wide, 48mm lug to lug and 14mm high it takes a 22 mm strap and is on a new black crocodile strap.
£2,500.00 (approx $3,950.00 US)