The year 2012 is a memorable one for one of the finest Swiss watch-making brands and they are celebrating it in the best way they know how. Longines, the watch brand known for its sophisticated pieces is commemorating 180 years of its existence this year and has created special edition watches for the same. We are all familiar with their advertisements featuring their Indian Ambassador of Elegance, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and it is this focus on producing elegant and refined pieces that runs through all their collections.

Tradition, elegance and performance. Those are the three cornerstones of Longines, which was established in 1832. It has been based in the Swiss town of St. Imier since its inception. We take a walk through Longines’ history, making our way through 180 years of watchmaking expertise.

1832 – Auguste Agassiz joins a trading office in St. Imier. He rises in rank over a few years and the company is renamed Agassiz & Co.

1866 – Ernest Francillon, Agassiz’ nephew who is now running the business buys two plots of land on the right-hand bank of the River Suze. The site was locally known as Les Longines

1867 – Francillon establishes a factory on this land which he calls Longines. The company starts its move from the “établissage” system, where the different parts of the watch were produced at home by watchmakers and then brought to the trading office to an in-house manufacturing system with the help of Jacques David, Francillon’s relative.

1878 – Longines begins its association with the equestrian world by producing a chronograph with the engraving of a jockey and his mount.

1889 – Francillon patents a trademark over the Longines name and the winged hourglass symbol. It is the oldest trademark used in its original form even today.

1911 – The Longines factory now employs over 1100 workers and sells its products all over the world.

1912 – Longines first uses its electromechanical or “broken wire” timing system at the Swiss Federal Gymnastics meeting.

1913 – The brand produces its first wrist chronograph.

1927 – American pilot Charles A. Lindbergh flies nonstop solo across the North Atlantic and his flight is timed by Longines. He then asks the brand to produce a watch based on his own concept to work as a timekeeper and a calculating instrument. The Hour Angle watch is born on 1931.

1945 – Longines produces its first self-winding calibre called the 22A, which was a technological feat for its time.

1952 – Photogines is developed by Longines, which is the first mechanism to link timing with a photo finish.

1960 – Longines invents the Contifort, the first mechanism to tie up timing with a moving image.

1975 – The manufacture produces the self-winding calibre 890 with two co-axial barrels in series, improving consistency in energy transmission.

1982 – The classic Agassiz Collection is introduced to commemorate the 150{+t}{+h} anniversary of Comptoir Agassiz

1997 – The Longines Dolce Vita line of watches is launched with a focus on elegance and contemporary design. It soon becomes one of their most popular collections.

2007 – Longines becomes the official partner of the French Open tennis tournament, held in Roland Garros every year.

2012 - Longines celebrates 180 years with special editions of many of their watches, including a limited series of pocket watches called the Longines Lépine 180{+t}{+h} Anniversary Limited Edition. Only 180 of these watches are made and they are based on the first pocket watches produced by Auguste Agassiz.

(This article was published on August 9, 2012)
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