Luxury watch marque Longines cemented its place in horological history and the equestrian world with its new status as the official watch of Royal Ascot. Cai Mei Khoo hits the races.
One of the most prestigious races in the world, founded by Queen Anne over 300 years ago, the Royal Ascot is also one of the most exciting events on the British social calendar. On invitation from Longines, official timekeepers of the races for the past seven years, and as of this year, official partner and watch of the Royal Ascot, the first thing that crossed my mind was what hat to wear. A quintessentially British item of clothing, the only type of hats I’m formally acquainted with are large floppy ones to wear to the beach.
The dress code for the Royal Enclosure, where we were invited to experience the race
The Royal Procession The atmosphere on race day from, was much stricter this year: Formal daywear was required, fascinators were no longer allowed, and hats had to cover at least four inches of the head. After days of scouring the shops and many nights of looking at countless websites virtually trying on hats, I finally placed an order for a custom hat to be sent directly to the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire where we were staying.
On the morning of the races, the lobby of the hotel proved to be quite a sight – the men were in their morning suits complete with top hats but it was definitely the women who stole the show with their fascinating hats. There were large ones with feathers and flowers, more discreet pillbox styles, and even one that looked like a cluster of planets – all worn with flourish, true to Longines’s slogan of ‘Elegance is an attitude’.
Longines’s new collection of watches, the Conquest Classic, was part of the winning prize. “As partner of the most prestigious flat races in the world, Longines was keen to launch a collection of timepieces to be worn amid the excitement of these events,” says Juan-Carlos Capelli, vice president of Longines and head of international marketing.
“We launched the Conquest Classic line as a tribute to the chronographs produced from 1881 on for race-goers and jockeys in New York. True to the brand’s values of elegance, tradition, and performance, this new collection, all fitted with self-winding calibres, is at the same time totally contemporary and perfectly timeless,” he says. “I especially like the chronograph in steel and rose gold.”
Five tables were set up in the Windsor Forest Restaurant, which had a private viewing balcony that overlooked the finish line. I was fortunate enough to sit next to Longines ambassador, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan herself, who was wearing a stunning black-and-white floral and lace hat custom made by none other than Philip Treacy. “This is my second time attending the Royal Ascot,” says Aishwarya. “It’s fun to get all dressed up for the races. It’s such an
Longines ambassador Aishwarya Rai Bachchan