“The ex­tent of the brand’s ex­per­tise in nav­i­ga­tion equip­ment was dis­played in all its glory, in­clud­ing a dis­play ded­i­cated to Charles Lind­bergh”


dis­played in all its glory, from pieces worn by renowned ex­plor­ers such as Roald Amund­sen and Amelia Earhart to a dis­play ded­i­cated to Charles Lind­bergh and his famed transat­lantic jour­ney with the Spirit of St. Louis.

After ad­ven­ture on the high seas and the open skies, the theme switched to sports. Since 1878, Longines has pro­duced in­creas­ingly ac­cu­rate equip­ment that would sep­a­rate cham­pi­ons and run­ner-ups. There’s a model of early bro­ken-wire sys­tems (trig­gered when a run­ner lit­er­ally broke a wire placed across the fin­ish line), to the first chrono­graphs used at race­courses in 1881 and photo-fin­ish equip­ment from the 1950s. It was also in­ter­est­ing to note that Longines’ in­volve­ment in the world of sports didn’t end when dig­i­tal time­keep­ing be­came com­mon. In fact, the brand had chalked up quite a bit of ex­pe­ri­ence in F1 rac­ing and re­mains an of­fi­cial part­ner in a num­ber of clas­sic com­pe­ti­tions.

Near­ing the end of my tour of the mu­seum, I came to a small corner lined with var­i­ous ad­ver­tise­ments used by the brand through­out the years. Th­ese ranges from il­lus­trated posters to photo cam­paigns fea­tur­ing such time­less icons like Au­drey Hep­burn dur­ing her hey­days. A small screen, mean­while, played video ad­ver­tise­ments from the past. The old an­i­mated clips were def­i­nitely in­ter­est­ing, while the dron­ing black-and-white com­mer­cials were full of nostalgia. But none of those could beat the tongue-in-cheek par­o­dies of early James Bond Movies, com­plete with men­ac­ing vil­lains, al­lur­ing damsels and a dash­ing hero.

This nos­tal­gic corner sat side-by-side with a sec­tion dis­play­ing more mod­ern col­lec­tions and cam­paign im­agery star­ring the long list of Longines’ brand am­bas­sadors such as An­dre Agassi and Kate Winslet. The con­trast be­tween the old and the new—and the progress that it im­plies—per­fectly en­cap­su­lates the brand’s recipe for suc­cess.

a Per­sPec­tive time

Per­son­ally, how­ever, what re­ally put the whole trip through the Longines Mu­seum in per­spec­tive was some­thing that Claude Jaunin, the brand’s now-re­tired re­gional sales man­ager for Asia Pa­cific. We were stand­ing in the Aven­ture sec­tion, near a huge au­to­mated hour­glass—a nat­u­ral rest­ing point as just about ev­ery guest to the mu­seum would def­i­nitely take the time to see the hour­glass strike the hour and flip over.

As we stood there wait­ing, Mr. Jaunin turned to me and said: “You know, time takes its time.” Per­haps it was an ob­ser­va­tion of the fu­til­ity of “wish­ing” the hour­glass to turn sooner; per­haps he was rem­i­nisc­ing of his time with the brand that, at the time, was about to come to its con­clu­sion. What­ever prompted it, his com­ment that “time takes it time” re­ally struck a chord with me. In­no­va­tion and break­throughs are the things that el­e­vate a brand. But for one to sur­vive for nearly two cen­turies, tak­ing the time—to do things prop­erly, to pre­serve ones his­tory—is paramount. And in­deed, Longines knows how to take its time.

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