Few watchmakers have the extensive history and reputation to garner enough attention for a museum, but Longines is an exception with their Longines Master Collection. With almost 200 years of history and tradition in the rich cultural heritage of Swiss watchmaking, the company has expanded from making exceptional timepieces to recording and preserving the historical traditions that make up the company.
Longines Master Collection: Tracing the History of Watches
Longines, like many Swiss watch companies, began as a small shop and transformed over the years into a full-scale manufacturing company. Along the way, all the information about the complexities of designing and building watches such as those in the Longines Master Collection were preserved in writing. The Longines Master Collection is now on display in the Etablissage Books Exhibition Room at the museum, dating back to the foundation of the Longines company. It is a vast collection of information, detailing every timepiece that was made by Longines from the late 1860s to the 1950s, and has extensive details on each watch including a unique piece number, a date when it was sent from the factory, details of the case, dial, and hands, and the contact information for the distributor who would sell it.
Another exhibit in the museum examines not only the technical aspect of specific watch technologies, but also the cultural, economic, social, and technological influences behind the design, manufacture, and distribution of wristwatches. Longines was one of the pioneers in developing the technology necessary to create a version of the pocketwatch that could be worn on the wrist, and its tradition of exceptional innovation continues today with watches like those in the Longines Master Collection. As early as 1916 the company wanted to adapt its calibres to what were then called “bracelet watches”. By 1950, the company was leading the industry in developing and manufacturing wristwatches which are now a part of the Longines Master Collection.
34 Million Longines Watches
Over the course of its history, Longines has produced over 34 million watches. In the 34 Million Watches exhibit, the company examines the changing traditions of watchmaking, displayed in batches of 1 million watches, and detailing the prevailing influences of the phase, as well as some of the challenges that watchmakers faced in producing those timepieces. It took 32 years to sell the first million watches; with timepieces like those in the Longines Master Collection, or the similarly elegant Longines Flagship, today that volume of sales occurs at a much more rapid pace. The presentation of the exhibits also represents the progression of technology and acceleration of production in the Longines Master Collection that happens now versus the 19th and 20th centuries.
Swiss watchmakers embody a special tradition in timepiece evolution, none more so than a company with the long and rich history of the Longines Master Collection. The museum brings that rich tradition and the history of the Longines Master Collection to life.