Flash Forward

Longines makes time zone adjustment dazzling with its new Conquest V.H.P. GMT Flash Setting

Watch-wearing world travelers, rejoice.

While horologic tradition has always dictated that setting a watch’s second time zone readout be done by hand—and to enthusiasts this is hardly a chore—Longines is proposing another dazzling way in which to set the GMT complication. It’s called the Flash Setting, and this function is what distinguishes the newly introduced Longines Conquest V.H.P. GMT Flash Setting from the rest of the Very High Precision quartz-powered Conquest collection.

While still allowing the user to adjust for a second time zone by manually winding the watch’s crown, the Flash Setting in the latest Conquest V.H.P. rendition relies on light pulses emitted by a smartphone—which in most cases automatically syncs to the local time—to set the watch’s GMT time readout. But the watch does not connect to the smartphone via the usual WiFi or Bluetooth signals, or by any other external hardware either.

Instead, how it works is through a dedicated app on the smartphone, which sends a series of light flashes to a dot-like aperture on the upper part of the “1” in the watch’s large 12 o’clock numeral—a signature visual cue of the Conquest line, by the way. The watch would then instantly adjust for a second time zone readout without its wearer ever touching the crown. All right, the crown can also be used if the watch’s Swap function is called up. This feature lets the wearer interchange between home time and travel time on the display simply by—surprise, surprise— pressing the crown.

Now, because smartphones usually take their cues from the ether (all right, from atomic clocks in most cases), they could constantly supply the Conquest V.H.P. GMT Flash Setting with precise time information. Which, incidentally, is the USP of the Conquest V.H.P. range in the first place.

Longines introduced its current V.H.P. pieces in 2017 after hibernating this ultra-precise quartz-fired technology it first brought out in 1984, and which soldiered on up until the mid 1990s. In their present iteration, the V.H.P. watches remain obsessively accurate, not gaining more than five seconds in the course of a year. They also now get the Gear Position Detection that automatically resets the watch’s hands after harsh impact, if not a rather unpleasant exposure to a magnetic field. Plus, the watches’ batteries are reckoned to supply power for around five years, and their perpetual calendar extends to 2399.

The Conquest V.H.P. GMT Flash Setting pieces are rendered in either steel or black PVD cases, with sizes in 41 and 43 millimeters. Its second time zone is indicated by a thin imperial arrow hand, and is joined on the dial by the hour, minute and second hands, as well as a date display for the perpetual calendar. A home time icon sits at 10 o’clock while the travel time icon is placed at 2 o’clock. Dial choices are black, silver, blue and carbon-fiber. A steel or a black PVD bracelet, or a blue or black rubber strap, round out the watches’ aesthetics.

During the Conquest V.H.P. GMT Flash Setting’s unveiling at Lanterna di Fuksas in Rome, Longines also announced a new campaign that revolves around the theme of travel, showing its Ambassadors of Elegance in their home cities and abroad—with the time zone displays for both places always remaining correct.