Longines: A Love Affair

As one of the leading brands in the industry, Longines has a legion of fans worldwide. But one question evades our lips: why do watch wearers fall in love with Longines over and over again? Claire Adler attempts to uncover the horological infatuation.

I’ve been wearing my Longines Dolce Vita practically every day for the last decade. After all these years, I still love its elegant, feminine lines and the fact it’s so easy to wear with practically everything. It just works. When I bought my Dolce Vita, I had no idea Longines has such an illustrious history.

The fact is that if you buy a Longines, you’ll immediately have something in common with Albert Einstein. And you’re guaranteed to never have one of those awkward moments if you bump into Kate Winslet or Aishwarya Rai, because you’ll have something to talk about – from professors to film stars, the brand has a legion of fans. And as another jewel in the crown, Longines is the number four watch brand in the world when it comes to sales by value, following Rolex, Omega and Cartier.

But more than that, while an increasing number of watch companies in recent years have been priding themselves on making their own watch movements, Longines was making its own chronograph movement – the world-class 13ZN – way back in 1936. This, at a time when even Patek Philippe was sourcing its watch movements from other suppliers, before embellishing them themselves. The beautifully finished 13ZN is one of the first fly-back movements in existence, which means you don’t have to stop the chronograph before resetting it. It also had a minute hand, which instead of gliding along continuously, remains in position until the second hand hits 60, before jumping. These two features combined were a rarity, loved by connoisseurs, and weren’t seen again till 1999 in Lange & Sohne’s Datograph chronograph movement.

In 1889, Longines patented its symbol of a winged hourglass. To this day it remains the oldest logo still in use in its original form. Ever since the company was founded in the 1860s, Longines has been synonymous with exceptional craftsmanship and its associations with aviation and equestrianism are hard to beat.

As well as being official supplier to the International Aeronautics Federation since 1919, Longines took a starring role on the day US Army pilot Charles Lindbergh became the first person in history to be in New York one day and Paris the next. In 1927, Lindbergh crossed the North Atlantic, alone and without stopping, in a record-setting flight lasting 33 hours and 30 minutes. He was awarded the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. And he was wearing a Longines watch throughout the flight. Now that’s product placement.

Longines first began timing horse races in 1926 at the Geneva International Horse Show Jumping Competition. Today, it is the official partner at equestrian events in Barcelona, Dubai, the Emirates, Hong Kong, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Qatar and Singapore, while in the UK it is the official timekeeper at Royal Ascot. While Royal Ascot guarantees the presence of the Queen, the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show held on the Pampelonne Beach in St Tropez this June attracted the glamorous Charlotte Casiraghi, eighth in line to Monaco’s throne.

Longines new Conquest Classic line takes its inspiration from the early Conquest watches first produced by the brand in 1954. Each self-winding watch has a date display, a 30-minute counter and a 12-hour counter. There’s also a Conquest Classic Moonphase version, showing the current shape of the moon as you see it in the sky on any particular day. This version has a 24-hour indicator, a transparent case back, self-winding mechanical chronograph movement, and is water-resistant to 50 metres.

Meanwhile, the new Longines Equestrian Collection for women brings that same timeless elegance that I’ve always loved about my Dolce Vita, except the design is much more intricate. There are subtle references to equestrian paraphernalia, like the forms of stirrups connecting the dial to the strap and an echo of fine leather saddles, all topped with the occasional option of diamonds. It’s refreshingly wearable, timeless and most importantly, very Longines.