Brand story: Live long, and pros­per

Longines par­lays el­e­gance and the sport­ing life into its own.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Contents - Words by Ja­son Tan

LIVE LONG ENOUGH, and see things come full cir­cle. Longines, 185 years old this year and in rude health, is still based in Saint-Imier, Switzer­land. En­tre­pre­neur Au­guste Agas­siz had sourced his watches us­ing the étab­lis­sage dis­trib­uted net­work, un­der which sup­pli­ers had the lux­ury of work­ing from home, as is the trend among younger work­ers of to­day’s dein­dus­tri­al­is­ing western world.

It was Ernest Fran­cil­lon, Agas­siz’s nephew and suc­ces­sor, who did away with étab­lis­sage for the com­pany, con­sol­i­dat­ing pro­duc­tion in the Longines fac­tory; the promise of me­chan­i­cal au­to­ma­tion was the new dawn in 1867. Les Longines, the site on which the fac­tory was built and named, em­ployed 1,100 work­ers by 1911 and ex­ported around the world, decades be­fore Deng Xiaop­ing un­teth­ered China’s teem­ing work­ers from com­mu­nism. The fac­tory had al­ready pro­duced its mil­lionth move­ment by 1899.

Fran­cil­lon also an­tic­i­pated the im­por­tance of brand­ing in to­day’s any­thing-goes glob­alised mar­ket and its ca­pac­ity for coun­ter­feits; he trade­marked the Longines name and its now-cel­e­brated logo in 1889. The winged-hour­glass now as­so­ci­ated with Longines by con­sumers the world over is some­thing of a tri­umph of graphic de­sign: it is the old­est still in use in its orig­i­nal form reg­is­tered with the World In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Or­gan­i­sa­tion. In fact, as early as 1867, Longines was al­ready us­ing the winged hour­glass sym­bol and the trade­name “Longines” as a guar­an­tee of qual­ity, or “brand val­ues”, ac­cord­ing to cur­rent mar­ket­ing lex­i­con.

In cel­e­brat­ing its 185th an­niver­sary, Longines has launched its “On This Day” project where the Swiss watch­maker's col­lec­tive mem­ory is re­vealed as the new day dawns: 365 short sto­ries re­lated to the rich his­tory of the brand from Jan­uary 1 to De­cem­ber 31 can be ac­cessed on www.longines. com/185years/on-this-day.

Here's one that il­lus­trates the brand’s strate­gic part­ner­ship with sport, notably the com­pet­i­tive, el­e­gant, eques­trian kind: on Jan­uary 15, 2013, Longines be­came the first “Top Part­ner” of the au­gust FEI (Fédéra­tion Équestre In­ter­na­tional). Longines has since es­tab­lished a net­work of ad­van­ta­geous links with the world of sports time­keep­ing, such as artis­tic gym­nas­tics, archery, ski­ing and ten­nis, en­abling it to of­fer its prac­tised ser­vices to se­lected pres­ti­gious sports ever since. An­other anec­dote: col­lec­tors will be in­ter­ested to know that the mil­lionth move­ment pro­duced by the Longines fac­tory on Fe­bru­ary 2, 1899, went to Longines’ pres­i­dent Ernest Eti­enne Fran­cil­lon, the son of the com­pany’s founder.

Step­ping jaun­tily past its 185th birth­day cake and into its 186th year, Longines re­vis­its its Flag­ship col­lec­tion, in­tro­duc­ing the 60th an­niver­sary edi­tion of the ef­fort­lessly good-look­ing model first sold in 1957. Time­less and taste­ful with its white dial, slim pro­file and min­i­mal­ist fas­ten­ers, hearts were won with the sim­ple sym­bol­ism of the Flag­ship, its name com­ing from the lead ves­sel on which the flag of the fleet’s com­man­der-in-chief snaps in the wind. The Flag­ship Her­itage 60th An­niver­sary was se­lected in part in hon­our of Bri­tish ac­tress Kate Winslet who, when vis­it­ing the head­quar­ters in Switzer­land, fell for the orig­i­nal time­piece from which Longines draws in­spi­ra­tion for its an­niver­sary edi­tion.

Avail­able in steel, yel­low gold and rose gold, these num­bered and lim­it­ededi­tion mod­els dis­play the iconic flag­ship on the back as per the orig­i­nal pieces. The model houses an L609 me­chan­i­cal cal­i­bre in its 38.5mm case with the gold ver­sions lim­ited to only 60 pieces, the rose gold an­other 60 pieces, and the steel 1957 pieces. The brushed, sil­very dial comes adorned with eight in­dices and four Ara­bic nu­mer­als in yel­low or rose gold, com­plete with a brown, al­li­ga­tor leather strap with buckle. The watch is wa­ter-re­sis­tant up to 30m with an au­to­matic wind­ing me­chan­i­cal move­ment.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the rich her­itage of Longines, and a glimpse of the clas­sic 60th an­niver­sary Flag­ship Her­itage mode, drop by the Longines 185th An­niver­sary Ex­hi­bi­tion from Novem­ber 14 to 19 at Vivo City, Sin­ga­pore.

Left Longines won the Grand Prix at the 1900 Uni­ver­sal Ex­hi­bi­tion in Paris with this pocket watch named La Renom­mée, con­tain­ing the 21.59-cal­i­bre chronome­ter. Op­po­site page Flag­ship Her­itage: 60th An­niver­sary 1957-2017.

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