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Clock Gears

NAVIGATING TIME AND SKIES: THE LONGINES LEGACY

From Saint-Imier to the North Atlantic


In the picturesque town of Saint-Imier, Switzerland, the saga of Longines began in 1832 when Auguste Agassiz, a skilled watchmaker, founded a watch company. Assisted by lawyers and brothers-in-law Henri Raiguel and Florian Morel, the company initially bore the name Raiguel Jeune & Cie. By 1846, Agassiz found himself at the helm as his partners retired from the watch industry.


The turning point arrived in 1852 when Agassiz enlisted the expertise of his nephew, Ernest Francillon, an economist well-versed in watchmaking. Francillon played a pivotal role in the establishment of Longines' first factory in 1867, a year that also marked the creation of the brand's first movement, the 20A. Early successes included the production of the 20H, a patented simple chronograph movement by watchmaker Alfred Lugrin in 1878. At this stage the brand of Longines - which means “long meadows” in the local dialect - was effectively born.


Longines swiftly gained prominence in the realm of competitive sports, notably horse racing, becoming the preferred supplier of timepieces to sports officials in New York by 1886. The brand's reputation solidified further with the registration of the Longines name as a trademark in 1880 and the iconic winged hourglass logo in 1889 - now the oldest registered trademark for a watch brand in continuous use.


While Longines excelled in sports, its enduring legacy lies in navigation and aviation. In 1919, the brand became the official supplier of timepieces for the International Aeronautical Federation. The collaboration with US Navy officer Philip Van Horn Weems resulted in the creation of the Longines Weems Second-Setting Watch in 1927, a pivotal instrument for early navigation.


Following Charles Lindbergh's historic solo flight over the North Atlantic, Longines partnered with the aviator to craft the Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch in 1931. This timepiece, based on Weems' original design, featured a distinctive bezel with scales to aid aviators in calculating longitude and geographical location using a sextant and nautical almanac.


Celestial navigation, an intricate art of positioning using heavenly bodies, played a crucial role in the era of Lindbergh's flight. While never used in isolation, celestial navigation, combined with methods like pilotage, dead reckoning, radio navigation, and celestial navigation, formed the backbone of a navigator's toolkit. The Hour Angle, representing time difference between Greenwich and a location, became instrumental in this process.

The Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch, designed to simplify celestial navigation calculations, utilized the Earth's rotation - 360 degrees in 24 hours. Each hour represented fifteen degrees, aiding navigators in determining their longitude. Suppose it's noon at your location; calculating the Greenwich Hour Angle for a celestial body reveals your longitude.


Further details about the Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch and the science behind it can be found here.


Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch resting on a desk with maps

Preserving the Longines Heritage


Nestled beneath the heart of Saint-Imier, Switzerland, the Longines buildings stand as a testament to time. As the company flourished, so did these structures, now home to the headquarters of Compagnie des Montres Longines Francillon S.A., workshops, and a museum chronicling the brand's illustrious history. Renovated and restructured in 2012, this museum is a treasure trove, offering a captivating journey through Longines' multifaceted past.


Step into the museum, and you'll encounter a rich tapestry of Longines' accomplishments. The exhibits span main watch models, navigation instruments, timekeeping marvels, and an array of unique documents including photographs, posters, films, medals, and archive records. It's a comprehensive narrative of how Longines shaped not only the watch industry but also the course of navigation and aviation. Longines' list of achievements echoes through the halls, boasting a lineage of electronic and quartz innovations. Among its triumphs stands the Feuille d’Or (meaning "Gold Leaf"), the world's first watch with a thickness of less than 2mm. This exemplifies Longines' unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of watchmaking.


"Elegance is an attitude," declares Longines' communication slogan since 1999. This philosophy extends beyond mere appearance; it permeates every facet of action and personality. Wander through a room that mirrors Longines' portrayal in advertisements throughout ages. The curated models with refined designs, some adorned with noble materials, tell stories of style awards and timeless elegance.

 

Available Now


Experience the seamless fusion of timeless aesthetics and modern watchmaking with the Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph - L2.830.4.93.0. This exquisite timepiece is a testament to Longines' commitment to preserving its rich heritage while embracing innovation. Check out this classic chronograph watch in unworn, preowned condition below:



Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph Silver & Black Dial resting horizontal on the wooden box

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