Longines has been making fine watches from its base in Saint-Imier, Switzerland since 1832. With generations of experience as the official timekeeper at numerous world championships, and as a partner of major international sports federations, Longines today is a member of the Swatch Group SA, with a presence in over 130 countries.
Longines Brand History: Origins
In 1832 Auguste Agassiz found employment with a company called Comptoir Horloger Raiguel Jeune. By 1833, Agassiz had taken over the business and started a company with two associates, which they called Comptoir Raiguel Jeune & Cie. As with many leading Swiss watch firms, employees worked on watches from home and they were sold in the workshop.
In between the years 1854 and 1866, Agassiz handed down the operation of his business to his nephew, Ernest Francillon. Much to Agassiz’s disappointment, the quality of watch being produced by the company during this period fell very low. As a result of this, he realised the time was right to start a factory, with proper supervision and quality control.
Agassiz opened his first watch factory in a local area known as Les Longines, and this is how the world-famous watch brand came to be known. With all his craftsmen and watchmakers working under his watchful eye under one roof, the quality of the watches greatly improved. Longines steadily became well known throughout the world for its innovations and research, winning awards and prizes for technical excellence.
As the years passed, the company started to expand its collection. Chronographs were introduced in 1879. Much later came the making of cockpit instruments and aviator watches, for which the brand is rightly famous. This line of watches helped to evolve the winged logo recognisable around the world on a Longines watch. The company’s trademark was invented a year later. It was registered on 19 July 1880, and featured a winged hourglass, which is used by the company to this day.
In 1912, Longines produced its first automatic timekeeping device. As a result, in the same year the Longines Watch Company became the official timekeeper for the Swiss Federal Gymnastics Meet, and this brought about the introduction of the first broken-wire automatic timing system. It is still the case that, 100 years later, most major sporting events around the world depend on Longines as their official timekeeper. Since that time, Longines have also been involved with the timing of Formula One racing, equestrian sports and many other events that demand split-second timing.
By 1919, Longines had become associated with the International Aeronautics Federation, and has ever since supplied watches both to set and certify a number of flight records, including Charles Lindbergh’s crossing of the North Atlantic. The dashing female pilot Amelia Earhart was also an early brand ambassador. Longines is noted for its production of the unique, hardy Aviator timepieces, crafted to specific specifications to endure the altitude and velocity pilots achieve during transatlantic flights.
While so many Swiss watches were struggling due to the quartz crisis of the 1970s, Longines continued to make breakthroughs in production. The look of the watches also began to change. In 1973, Longines was the first watch distributor to offer a Liquid Crystal Display display screen.
In 1980, Longines produced a set of ultra-thin watches. In fact, they had already set a world record for the world’s thinnest watch way back in 1960 with a watch that was just 0.98mm in depth.
In 1984 Longines successfully fought back against many Japanese quartz watch competitors with a new high-precision quartz-calibre watch with a thermic sensor to add extra stability to the timekeeping. The watch can be set manually, and is ten times more precise than the average quartz watch. The Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) average daily rate standard for officially certified COSC quartz chronometers is ± 25.55 seconds per year. Whereas thermo compensated quartz movements, even in wrist watches, can be accurate to within just ± 5 to ± 25 seconds per year.
In 2001, the thirty-millionth Longines watch rolled off the production line and in 2010, Longines celebrated its 130th year of the trademark logo, and their 178th consecutive uninterrupted year in business.
In 2007, Andre Agassi – with a name not far removed from Longines’ founder, Antoine Agassiz – was invited to represent the Longines brand. This arrangement benefited both parties: Andre Agassi endorsed the Longines watch, and Longines produced special editions of their watches in support of the organisation for children that Agassi had started, the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.
More resources about Longines Brand History available on Official Longines Website and Wikipedia.