The Swiss company Longines is the oldest incorporated watch manufacturer in the world. Founded in 1832, Longines is a pioneer in pilot's and sport watches with watches characterized by traditional and elegant designs.
Longines benefits from over 180 years of history and is well known for their top-quality watches. Longines chronographs were already timing horse races by the end of the 19th century, and today they are still used during tennis, skiing, and horseracing. Longines even developed technology for timekeeping and tracking in horseracing: the Longines Positioning System (LPS), which provides accurate, instant data on the position of horses during a race with an accuracy of 5 centimeters. Longines is also known for their technological innovations in the field of timekeeping. They offer traditionally elegant men's and women's watches divided into five series: Elegance, Watchmaking Tradition, Heritage, Sport, and Equestrian.
From Classic to Sporty
The Sport series was introduced in 2007 with athletes in mind. Models such as the HydroConquest
diving watch excel thanks to their robustness, functionality, and precision. A unidirectional bezel improves dive safety, and the Superluminova hands, indices, and numerals glow brightly in the dark so you can always read the time. The Conquest
series is made up of chronographs, three-handed watches, and GMT function watches, which keep track of time in two time zones. Such watches are therefore perfect for the frequent flyer who wants to keep track of their home base time. Some of the chronograph models in this series can stop to 1/100th of a second. The Master Collection
, a subset of the Watchmaking Tradition series, includes all of Longines' masterpieces. Introduced in 2005, this collection consists of both automatic and manual mechanical watches. It calls to mind the historical and technical achievements of the company with its complicated watches featuring chronograph functions, as well as date, day, month, and moon phase indicators. Their designs are classic and elegant. The same applies to the Heritage Collection, which features watches that are reminiscent of those from hundreds of years ago. Some watches resemble 19th-century pocket watches, others are reminiscent of typical pilot's watches, and other models of sport chronographs from the 1960s and 70s.
Countless Women's Watches
The Elegance series directs itself towards stylish, chic women. Its DolceVita collection, for example, offers timeless elegance in the form of small, rectangular cases and materials such as 18-karat pink gold. The Primaluna collection consists exclusively of watches with round cases and uses stainless steel, sometimes with a two-tone design. The Symphonette models distinguish themselves with their elliptical cases, creating a bridge between traditional and modern designs. The Equestrian collection is a homage to Longines' relationship to horse racing. These women's watches feature distinctive, unique lugs which resemble the pendant on early models of Longines pocket watches.
Tradition and Elegance Since 1832
Longines' beginnings trace back to the summer of 1832, when 23-year-old Auguste Agassiz established himself as an active partner of the company Comptoir Raiguel Jeune in the small city of Saint-Imier, Switzerland. Comptoir bought watch parts and delivered them to watchmakers, who would then assemble and finish the watches. On the side, they would often also operate small farms. After the watches were assembled, trading companies would take care of selling them. This production method was very widespread at the time. Agassiz's business was so successful that he assumed sole control of the company in 1846. However, health problems forced him to soon find a successor: His nephew Ernest Francillon joined the company in 1852.
After a short time, Francillon took over. He quickly learned that the current production method with Comptoir wasn't sustainable and instead considered serial production of his watches. In 1866, Francillon took advantage of an opportunity and bought a piece of land on the banks of the Suze River. The location, Les Longines ("the long meadows"), was perfect for a factory. In 1867, Francillon inaugurated the production plant and later that year, Longines presented their first caliber produced in-house, the 20A. The caliber featured a pendant winding and setting mechanism as well as an anchor escapement. It won an award at the Universal Exhibition in Paris that same year.
Longines continued to industrialize their production processes over the years. Thanks to the work of Francillon and Jacques David, then-technical director of the company, Longines became a pioneer in the mechanized production of watches. Due to these forward-thinking methods, Longines was able to increase their production of chronograph movements and precise timing instruments by the end of the 19th century. Additionally, they were able to introduce quality controls.
The World's First Incorporated Watch Manufacturer
Longines has used the winged hourglass as a logo and their name as a logotype on their watches since 1867. These symbols have a twofold purpose: to guarantee quality and to distinguish themselves from fakes. In 1880, they registered their name with the Federal Office of Intellectual Property, and nine years later they registered their logo. As a result, today Longines has the oldest original logo still active in the catalogs of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Longines brand is even older than Coca-Cola or Ford, which have entries as registered trademarks dated 1893 and 1903, respectively. Unlike these companies, the watch manufacturer from Saint-Imier first hid their logo inside their products. It was only at the start of the second half of the 20th century and during the post-war boom that the logo and logotype began appearing on the dials.
To this day it is unknown why Francillon chose a winged hourglass as a logo. The hourglass was probably selected because it was a medieval timekeeping method and symbol for watchmakers, and the wings could be interpreted as a modern symbol of the sky. In this way, the company creates a connection with one of their greatest historical achievements: the development of a reliable, navigation instrument for pilots.
Flying Over the Atlantic or Timing Sporting Events
In 1927, American pilot Charles A. Lindbergh flew the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris. Longines was responsible for keeping track of the time during this feat. The manufacturer worked together with Lindbergh to develop a pilot's watch with a navigation mechanism. Together with this so-called Lindbergh Hour Angle watch, a sextant, and a nautical almanac, aviators can calculate longitude and latitude, allowing them to determine their exact geographical position. Longines had already been the official supplier for the International Aeronautical Federation since 1919.
The watchmakers at Longines have another great passion aside from aviation: timing sporting events. By 1886, the company was already supplying most horse racing judges with their watches. Today, Longines watches are used in flat races, show jumping, and endurance racing. In 1954, the company developed their first quartz clock, which set new records for accuracy at the Neuchâtel Observatory. The instrument, called Chronocinégines, had a 16 mm camera attached to a quartz clock and took 100 pictures a second. This allowed athletes to be filmed as they crossed the finish line. The instrument was used in 1964 to record Donald Campbell's record-breaking speed of 648 km/h in his Bluebird II car. Longines timepieces are also often used during alpine skiing, gymnastics, tennis, and archery.
Precision, Elegance, and Tradition
This Swiss manufacturer has made a place for themselves in watchmaking history with their accomplishments and technological innovations. From revolutionizing the production of aviation timepieces to professionally timing sports events, the company is an expert in precision and high-quality performance. Because Longines has belonged to the Swatch Group since 1983, their watchmakers, designers, and engineers can rely on the most modern technology. However, the company still manages to stay connected to their own tradition, creating mainly classic and elegant watches. True to their motto, elegance really is an attitude with Longines.