Longines can proudly flaunt its status as one of the oldest Swiss watch brands. Founded in 1832 in Saint-Imier, Longines celebrates the grand 190th anniversary of the brand with three commemorative pieces from its Master collection. Relying on an unusual mix of contemporary matte textured dials and hyper-classical engraved Breguet numerals, the Master Collection trilogy honours the past and present of the brand with great style. Here is the Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary.
Brief History of Longines
Longines has been airborne – uninterruptedly – since 1832. Surviving this long in any milieu depends a lot on innovation and efficiency and Longines combined both from the start. One of the most innovative ideas was to unite all production processes under one roof, rowing against the tide of the établissage system where individual components were produced by different families and then assembled and sold by a comptoir, or trading office. By 1867, Longines had become a pioneer in mechanised production and produced its first movement, a 20-line movement known as calibre 20A with an anchor escapement that won an award at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867. Two years later, the 20H calibre chronograph movement was launched paving the way for the brand’s career in precision timekeeping pieces and fast becoming an essential companion at horse races – Longines is still a presence today in the equestrian world. Taking home Grand Prix awards at ten World Fairs and winning countless Observatory Chronometry prizes, Longines also developed a ‘broken wire’ sports timing system triggered by an athlete’s body crossing the finish line; when broken the wire would trigger the start or stop of a watch and became the first electromechanical sports timing device in 1912.
A wristwatch chronograph with one-fifth of a second accuracy appeared in 1913 and in 1919 the brand became the official supplier of the International Aeronautical Federation developing navigation instruments for aviation. Other highlights of the early 20th century include the legendary and patented chronograph calibre 13ZN.
Aviation was the way forward and Longines collaborated with pilots Horn Weems and Charles A. Lindbergh to develop sophisticated precision navigational devices. In 1945, Longines produced its first automatic movement, calibre 22A and ten years later developed its first quartz clock – Chronocinégines – for athletic competitions. One of a handful of brands to embrace quartz, including the world’s thinnest 1.98mm Feuille d’Or wristwatch of 1979, Longines was a natural ally for the exciting world of F1 and was appointed official timekeeper from 1982-1992. Despite having entered the quartz arena, sales flagged and Longines was purchased in 1971 by Ebauches SA and in 1983 became part of Swatch Group relinquishing in-house production and relying on the conglomerate’s readily available ETA movements. With a mission to produce affordable luxury watches, backed by the allure and heritage of the brand’s almost two centuries of history, Longines currently occupies the fifth position in Morgan Stanley’s Top 20 Swiss Watch Company Ranking (2022).
The Master Collection 190th-Anniversary
Following the renewed market preference for mechanical movements in the early 2000s, Longines introduced its Master collection. Easy on the eye with a selection of classic and more contemporary models, the Master collection offers a wide array of automatic watches, including straightforward three-hand dress watches, chronographs, moon phases, power reserves and an annual calendar introduced in 2018 – the most affordable of its type at that time.
The styling of the latest Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary models is more on the classical or traditional end of the collection spectrum. Available in three case metals -18k rose gold, 18k yellow gold and stainless steel – the new watches are an engaging mix of old and new. The contemporary diameter of 40mm is coupled with a slim case height of 9.35mm, and the surfaces are polished throughout for a more elegant look. What is unusual but works extremely well is the texture of the dial. Using the contemporary matte and often granulated finishing of many dials today, the stainless steel version has a sandblasted silver-coloured dial, the yellow gold a brushed grey dial and the pink gold a very attractive granular anthracite dial.
Contrasting with the contemporary textures are the classical Breguet numerals that are not applied or painted but engraved into the dial. The Arabic numerals on the silver dial leave the metal visible, while the yellow and rose gold feature matching gold-filled engraved numerals. The effect is extremely pleasant and works as a treat on the rose gold model. Accompanied by elegant leaf-shaped hands and a central seconds hand pointing to the dot-shaped minute track on the flange, the only other information on the dial is the vintage Longines brand name at noon and the ‘automatic’ inscription at 6 o’clock.
The sapphire caseback reveals the contemporary Longines calibre L888.5 based on an ETA A31.L11 automatic with a frequency of 25,200vph and a power reserve of 72 hours. Used in many Longines models, the self-winding movement is equipped with a silicon balance spring. Decorated with Côtes de Genève stripes and perlage on the mainplate, the rotor features a cut-out representing the winged logo and an engraving of the brand name and offers a view of the perlage on the plate.
Availability & Price
All three Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary models come with an anthracite alligator leather strap and a triple-folding clasp with a push-piece opening mechanism. The two gold models are limited editions of 190 pieces. The non-limited steel model will retail for CHF 2,150. Prices of the gold models will be CHF 10,800.
More information at Longines.com.