5699 Longines Sommatore
Auro Montanari once stated in a Phillips interview some years ago that he mainly collects five houses: Omega, Longines, Cartier, Patek Philippe and Rolex. I am certain there are exceptions, for example I’ve seen his Universals in other media, but when pressed those five came to mind. If one needed endorsement as a collector to consider vintage Longines, I’m not sure there’s any wiser counsel. Although mostly known for horse racing sponsorships and a few vintage reissues today, Longines were once amongst the very heights of watchmaking with things like the 13ZN, WWII aviation chronos, and the 7150 Super Compressor. This overlooked Sommatore hails from that era where the marque were making history, rather than leaning on it.
The Sommatore (Italian for ‘adder’ or more literally ‘one who sums’), also known as the Doppia Lancetta, was a 13ZN chronograph derivative with one alteration: the addition of a centrally mounted chronograph minute hand. This design solved the cluttered triple register dial problem and lost none of the functionality in the process. The altered 13ZN movement was cased in an oversized 39.5mm steel case with early waterproof construction. Sommatores were produced for just two years from 1945 until 1947, making them one of Longines’ scarcest (and most nuanced) productions. It is thought by most collectors that around 250 examples have ever existed.
This example is overall in a great state. The case has seen a light polish as one might expect of a tool chronograph from the mid 1940s. Its dial is original with a cream patina developing. The blued steel and red handset is still entirely lumed, which is quite impressive, as are the Arabic numerals. Scales still visible. Running well. It is not perfect, but one of the better 5699s you will see. One must remember that this is an eighty year old object, one which should display its life on the exterior. It comes from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Sommatore here from Xupes for 20000 GBP.
*Thank you to @mr_fred_le_blanc who has reached out to inform that this may in fact be a refinished or replacement dial, as the style may be incorrect for a pump pusher case.