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Longines has been based at Saint-Imier in Switzerland since 1832. Its watchmaking expertise reflects a strong devotion to tradition, elegance and performance. In 1832 Auguste Agassiz entered the world of horology when he joined a trading office established in Saint-Imier. He soon rose to become the manager and the company took on the name Agassiz & Co. At this time he was producing timepieces under the “établissage” system, whereby watchmakers worked at home and supplied their products to the trading offices.
Agassiz built up a network of commercial contacts, which enabled him to sell his watches on other continents, in particular in North America. During the 1850s Agassiz’s nephew Ernest Francillon took over the running of the office. When Francillon took on this responsibility he considered ways of perfecting the manufacturing methods used in watchmaking in the area. He concluded that it would be advantageous to try to bring together the different stages that go towards making a watch under one roof. Francillon’s intention was to set up a factory where he could assemble and finish each watch, introducing a degree of mechanisation. In order to achieve this, he bought two adjoining pieces of land in 1866 on the right-hand bank of the River Suze, which runs through the St. Imier valley.
The site was known locally as Les Longines and he adopted this name for the factory he built there in 1867. Ernest Francillon took on Jacques David, a young engineer who was also related to him, to help develop the machines needed for perfecting the manufacture of timepieces. During the 1870s Francillon’s choice of industrial options was proved sound and the factory continually expanded until the first third of the 20th century: in 1911 the Longines factory employed over 1100 workers and sold its products all around the world.
The technical research carried out at Longines was rewarded by various prizes which gradually gave the company its reputation of winning the most awards in international and world exhibitions up until the 1929 exhibition in Barcelona, by which time Longines had won no fewer than 10 Grand Prix. In 1889 Francillon patented a trademark comprising the name Longines and the now famous winged hourglass. Today Longines is the oldest trademark or logo still in use in its original form registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). As early as 1867 Longines was using the winged hourglass symbol and the tradename “Longines” as a guarantee of quality in order to combat counterfeit products aimed at taking advantage of the reputation already established by the company.
Using the expertise it gradually acquired, Longines established a network of advantageous links with the world of sport which enabled it to offer its skilled services to various prestigious disciplines during the 20th century.
Today, Longines is proud to continue its tradition by creating products based on values that is has adhered to throughout the history. Longines also follows its vocation in the field of sports timing: Longines’ passion for equestrian sport dates back to 1878, when it produced a chronograph engraved with a jockey and his mount. Seen on the racetracks in 1881 and extremely popular among jockeys and horse-lovers, this model enabled its user to time performances to the second. It was already being used by most of the sports judges in New York as early as 1886. Furthermore, the Swiss watchmaking brand was first present at a show jumping competition in 1912 in Portugal. Today, Longines’ involvement in equestrian sports includes flat racing, show jumping, endurance and eventing competitions. In each of these disciplines, the brand has teamed up with the governing institutions of the equestrian world. Thus, it is the Top Partner of the FEI, the Fédération Equestre Internationale, and the Official Partner of the IFHA, the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. With its constant aim to promote youth achievement in sport, Longines also awards the Longines Rising Star Award to an athlete aged under 21 and organizes a race for young jockeys, the
Prix Longines Future Racing Stars, which is held on the same day as the Prix de Diane Longines, at Chantilly. As part of its partnership with the IFHA, the brand also presents the IFHA International Award of Merit, as well as the titles of Longines World’s Best Racehorse and Longines World’s Best Jockey.
Longines’ commitment to gymnastics started in 1912, when the company first used its electromechanical or “broken wire” timing system at the Swiss Federal Gymnastics meeting. For thirty years Longines has been the official partner and timekeeper for artistic and rhythmic gymnastics events organised by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). It was in 1933, in Chamonix, that Longines’ long involvement in Alpine skiing began. Since then, these winter competitions have been an opportunity for Longines to demonstrate a number of technical innovations. As the official timekeeper for the Alpine Ski World Cup and the World Skiing Championships organised by the International Ski Federation (FIS), Longines sees this mandate as a long-term commitment. To support the next generation of athletes, Longines and the FIS award the Longines Rising Ski Stars prize at the end of the season to the two best young skiers participating in the World Cup. Furthermore, the brand organises the Longines Future Ski Champions, a one-of race for promising young internationals aged under 16. Since 2007 Longines has also been the official partner for the prestigious French Open tennis tournament, which is held each year at Roland-Garros. The company uses this occasion to discover the tennis champions of tomorrow by organising the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament which is held at Roland-Garros during the two weeks of the French Open. And finally, Longines is also the official partner for the World Cup and World Championships in archery, organised by the International Archery Federation (FITA).
Known for the elegance of its timepieces, Longines is a member of the Swatch Group Ltd, the World’s leading manufacturer of horological products. With the winged hourglass as its emblem, the brand has outlets in over 140 countries.
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