The Longines story began in 1832 when Auguste Agassiz moved to the tiny Swiss town of Saint-Imier and started to work for Raiguel Jeune, a trader in watch parts. In 1847, Auguste Agassiz became the sole owner in the business. In 1852, his nephew, Ernest Francillon, joined the company, finally taking over from his uncle in 1862.
In 1866, Francillon acquired two plots of land on the outskirts of Saint-Imier, on the right bank of the Suze river, near a place called Les Longines (meaning “long and narrow fields “ in the French dialect of the area). There, he built the first Longines factory, an investment that marked the beginning of a long and prestigious story.
In 1867, the company produced its first movement (L20A). Also, Ernest Francillon was awarded a bronze medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris for his novel timepiece, its lever movements being wound and set by the crown.
By 1874, the company had already sent out its first circular, warning customers against counterfeit movements.
On July 19th 1880, Ernest Francillon registered the original Longines brand and its symbol, the winged hourglass. Since then, the brand has gone on to take ten Grand Prix and 28 Gold Medals that have never been equalled by any other watch manufacturer.
At the beginning of the 20thcentury, Longines was amongst the first brands to produce mechanical wristwatches, an innovation that initiated a significant reorganization of watch production systems during the 1920s and the 1930s.
As early as 1910, Longines watches began to lose their round silhouette, exploring new rectangular and square-shaped models.
Around the same time in 1912, Longines entered the world of gymnastics at the Swiss Federal Gymnastics Meeting in Besel. Here, the Swiss company introduced automatic timing and the use of an electromechanical system with start and finish tapes.
The 1920s and the 1930s were dedicated to elegance as was shown in the first Longines advertising campaign in 1927 and its production of watches decorated with diamonds, sapphires and precious stones. In this same year, there was also the release of the first non-stop transatlantic flight made by Charles A. Lindbergh, which was timed by Longines.
Just one year before, in 1926, the company had taken part in the first International Horse Show in Geneva. This marked the start of a long and still very much alive, relationship between equestrian sports and the Longines brand.
In the 1940s, the calibre L22A was created and, in the 1950s, Longines launched the communication campaign “Science and elegance”, as well as becoming the official timekeeper for the Winter Olympic Games in Oslo.
During the 1970s, despite the contemporary quartz revolution, Longines searched for inspiration in its past, producing a series of very important models: Flore Marine (1970), Longines Kleopatra (1975), Longines Volubilis (1978). In 1972, Paris-based French designer Serge Manzon designed a series of solid silver watches especially for Longines. In 1982, two years after the creation of Caliber L960, Longines celebrated its 150th anniversary with a collection of ultra-slim watches called Longines Agassiz, in honour of the company’s founder.
In 1982, the Longines’ partnership with the Ferrari Formula 1 racing team began.
In 1984, Longines launched its Conquest line fitted with the VHP (Very High Precision) movement developed by Longines.
The 1990s were characterised by the steel and ultra-slim watches of La Grande Classique collection, and by the Dolce Vita collection. These years also marked the launch of the advertising campaign Elegance is an Attitude, featuring legendary stars of the silver screen such as Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.
The new millennium began with the Longines Dolce Vita Diamond collection and with a commemorative collection of the 30 millionth Longines watch. Following this, there was Les Elégantes, a commemorative collection of three vintage watches and, finally, the Evidenza collection in 2003.
In 2004, the winged-symbol brand launched the Olympic collection, as a tribute to the Olympic Games, and the Lungo Mare collection.
The 2005 Master Collection, with 8 new designs, represented a summary of Longines’ expertise and experience that has spanned more than two centuries in watchmaking.
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