Associated with the pioneering of aviation, and the equestrian lifestyle, Longines offers supreme Swiss engineering and tasteful designs. Throughout its 185 years of producing finely crafted, remarkably precise timepieces, Longines has established itself as one of the most distinguished watchmaking brands in the world. The label is especially known for engineering top-quality products with a unique tendency of reworking old designs, bringing its heritage back to life.
Today Longines is an honourable member of the Swatch Group, which owns Swiss watchmaking powerhouses such as Omega, Tissot, Rado, and Breguet. Prior to becoming a subsidiary of the Group in 1983, like most Swiss watchmaking companies, it was a family-owned business, passed on through generations.
Longines was established by Auguste Agassiz and his two partners in 1832 in Saint Imier, more specifically in Es Longines, after which the brand bears its name. By 1846, Agassiz’s talent and imagination naturally positioned him as the de facto head of the company. Thanks to his contacts in the United States, Agassiz was able to successfully distribute Longines watches on the other side of the Atlantic. This was crucial to the company’s early success, alongside with the efforts of Ernest Francillon – Agassiz’s nephew. Francillon was a qualified economist whose thorough expertise in the field enabled him to gradually take over the firm from his uncle.
The factory premises in Saint- Imier, where the headquarters are located to this day, was officially inaugurated by Francillon in 1867. Also that year, the company produced its first movement – the 20A. This truly remarkable piece of engineering, featured a pendant winding and a settling mechanism. It was highly regarded by watchmakers alike, and won a prestigious award at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867. However, the company’s most significant innovation was soon to follow. When the firm’s technical director crossed the Atlantic on a business trip to Philadelphia, he envisaged new production possibilities. These where hitherto unexplored in Switzerland, which still relied on the time-consuming system of établissage. Thus, Longines became credited with catalysing the industrialisation of Swiss watchmaking.
In 1888, after establishing a new system of production largely dependant on machine tools, Longines became involved in high-precision timekeeping, and began producing movements for a certified chronometer – the 21.59 calibre. This was the beginning of the company’s path to specialising in extremely precise and reliable time measuring pieces, soon to be used in aviation, and sports events.
The early success and wide renown of Longines made it susceptible to frequent imitations. In order to prevent this, in 1880 Francillon filed the brand name with the Federal Office of Intellectual Property, and registered the logo in 1889. Regarded as the sign of authenticity, all new watches produced by the company featured the winged hourglass logo on the dial, as well as on all movements. With this installed, Longines famously became the world’s first watchmaking brand to adopt a trademark registered with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation).
Continuing its tradition of horological innovation, 1919 was a significant year for Longines. During that year, the brand entered a close-tie relationship with aviation. It became the official supplier for the International Aeronautical Federation, and developed highly accurate and reliable navigation instruments for the use of aviation pioneers.
The aviation connection tightened in 1931, when Charles A Lindbergh – the American pilot and international celebrity designed a navigational instrument which Longines brought to life. The custom-made, Lindergergh Hour Angle watch was an advanced timepiece, largely based on the preceding Weems System of Navigation which helped aviators calculate their geographical location.
Aside from having a strong association with aviation, the company has also established a firm connection with horse racing, which has grown in prominence over the recent decades. Thanks to its accurate time measuring and elegant aesthetics, Longines became the perfect fit for the equestrian lifestyle. To publicly seal the collaboration, in 2013 the company became the official parter of the prestigious Ascot racecourse.
The Longines watch collection consists of a diverse range of timepieces for both men and women with a taste for stylish yet understated watches. In 1954 the company launched what turned out to be its most popular watch family – the Conquest line. The Conquest, being the first of Longines models, is commonly regarded as the very embodiment of sports inspired elegance. It is remarkably versatile, offering a blend of style and practicality. In addition, it is water resistant to 300m.
In 1957, following the launch of Conquest, the elegant Flagship collection was introduced. It is characterised by traditional craftsmanship embellished by a sophisticated, yet functional case. It comes in a variety of models, for both men and women, who appreciate style and quality.
In 1979 Longines produced extremely slender watches that were only 1.98 mm thick. Building on this heritage, in 1982 Longines launched La Grande Classique is the extremely elegant Grande Classique, a true horological masterpiece, remarkable for its slimness, and effortlessly chic appearances. An enduring classic, it is one of the bran’s most popular pieces.
Another successful line of Longines watches is the Master collection. It is instantly recognisable for its silver dial, large Arabic numerals, and a leather strap. It is a functional, sophisticated, and distinctively comfortable watch designed for a modern man. One who appreciates style as well as quality.
Amongst the most popular ladies’ watches is the highly esteemed Dolcevita line. It is synonymous with subtle style and sophisticated elegance. The iconic DolceVita remains one of the most popular ladies watches. Instantly recognisable by its original rectangular case, it is said to represent the decadence of Italian lifestyle.
Appreciated by watch enthusiasts across the globe, Longines offers a range of functional and beautiful timepieces suitable for those with most refined taste. Its impressive history, and honourable association with aviation and horse racing, makes it a truly prestigious brand, offering comfort as well as classic elegance.