The obsession with accuracy in the watch world – mechanical or quartz – is one that may be confusing for some. If, like many, you assume that your timepiece will never be as accurate as your smartphone or computer, the fact that the industry spends so much of its resources on improving accuracy can be baffling.
But one needs to understand what standards time is held to. Prior to the atomic clocks that are now the internationally-used norm, quartz clocks that used crystal oscillators were the norm. The quartz market (and subsequent Revolution) were built from the miniaturisation of these systems into wristwatches. When quartz was the standard, the race was on to put this accurate timekeeping system on everyone’s wrist.
However, when the atomic clock became the global standard, it became clear that even quartz crystal oscillators weren’t nearly as accurate, comparatively speaking.
It’s the reason why, when Longines unveiled its VHP (Very High Precision) watch back in the ’80s, it was well regarded. With an accuracy promising +/- 10 seconds a year, the watch broke the conventional standards back then. Even now, the average quartz watch promises an accuracy of +/- 2 seconds a day.
What the VHP did that separated it from many other brands’ quartz movements was its thermocompensated system. It ensured that the drift rate of watch wouldn’t change. The brand was also one of the first to use lithium batteries, guaranteeing more battery life compared to everything else back then.
While the watch was discontinued, Longines finally decided to bring it back last year, promising even more accuracy. The modern iteration of the Conquest VHP is guaranteeing +/-5 seconds in a year. Compared to say, a COSC-certified mechanical watch that promises -4/+6 seconds a day, that’s a big jump.
Other features that are worth a shoutout include a gear position detection system that realigns the hands should they be displaced by a shock or a strong magnetic field. Another is the fact that the watch is a perpetual calendar (correct to the year 2400), as well as the five-year battery life that will keep you unworried.
The small world of high-end quartz watches will only stand to benefit from Longines’ re-entry. We’re hoping to see more from the brand, whether it be more complications or if it can better the standards it has set.