A Stainless Steel Dive Watch from Longines in a Super compressor Case ref 7042
Case: 40mm; stainless steel compressor case with screw-down case back and crowns
Dial: Black dial with luminous numerals, baton markers, and hands; inner unidirectional rotating bezel with 15-minute intervals
With its roots in the mid-19th century, Longines got its start manufacturing ébauches for other brands, and produced its own entirely in-house caliber in 1867. The brand's vintage pieces have gained a reputation for understated elegance and dependability at prices much lower than its Swatch Group-owned counterpart, Omega. And yet the price belies the quality of their timepieces.
While most known for its vintage Admiral dress watches or the 13ZN chronograph, the SuperCompressor diver is perhaps one of the most sought-after vintage Longines. Patented in 1956 by Ervin Piquerez SA (EPSA), the SuperCompressor case possessed a unique sealing system that set it apart from other dive watch cases of the day. When exposed to higher water pressure, the spring-loaded case back of the SuperCompressor case sealed even tighter. Another innovation with the SuperCompressor was its a three-pronged approach to securing the bezel. Whereas the bezels of most dive watches of the period rotated in both directions--running the risk of the diver miscalculating the amount of air left in his tank--the bezel of the SuperCompressor included an internal timing ring, only rotated in one direction, and locked.
Now, the diver must rotate the bezel with an additional crown, giving the SuperCompressor case its distinctive twin crown appearance. While not the best innovation in practice (due to the difficulty of manipulating a crown with diving gloves), the SuperCompressor case gained popularity. Dozens of other brands released dive watches with SuperCompressor cases, the most notable being Jaeger-LeCoultre, Universal Genève, and IWC.
ESPA ceased production of the SuperCompressor case in the 1970s. Of all the companies that used it, it is those by Jaeger-LeCoultre, Universal Genève, and Longines that remain the rarest. Often imitated, often duplicated--to paraphrase the old commercial--the Longines SuperCompressor diver remains a classic.