Longines : all about tradition

The brand from Saint-Imier has always applied two enduring concepts to its production: precision and elegance. Since 1832, these two watchwords have become the symbols of Longines’ success.

By Christophe Roulet

There is no trifling with history at Longines. And for good reason, too: with 187 years of existence, the house commands respect, especially as it is now one of today’s leading Swiss watch brands. Longines has cultivated this attachment to its heritage since its inception. It was founded in Saint-Imier in 1832 as a simple ‘watchmaking establishment’, and quickly realised the need to make an inventory of its production. Today this is an essential concern, but back then, this was no mean feat. True to its visionary spirit, the firm has systematically recorded all its watches since 1867, first in its ‘établissage’ ledgers, then in microfiches, and finally on computers. Since 2012, it has been using the LEA (Longines Electronic Archives), a unique database that collates all archived material about each watch, to provide information to dozens of customers on a daily basis. Given the incalculable number of Longines watches scattered around the world today, it is easy to grasp how monumental a task this is.

A play on contrasts

Faithful to its heritage yet looking to the future, Longines is omnipresent in the sporting world. The brand is official timekeeper for an array of competitions in equestrian sports, gymnastics, archery and downhill skiing, not to mention the Commonwealth Games. But it is also a master in cultivating contrasts. Its roadmap, for instance, presents a dichotomy between existential elegance and an almost military-like strategy. Longines is also the contrast between dynamic, high-tech sports equipment and age-old mechanical watchmaking. So it is hardly surprising to find similar diversity in the brand’s collections, where sport and classicism go hand-in-hand with femininity and tradition. In this last category, Longines has some hidden gems that “have accompanied exploration missions to unknown parts of the globe, withstood extreme weather conditions, participated in the opening of new airways and the setting of new aviation records, and navigated on raging seas”.

Company status
Société anonyme (public limited company) of the Swatch Group
Senior Management
Walter von Känel, President
Number of employees
Over 1,000 (mostly in Switzerland)
Flagship collections
The Longines Master Collection, Record, Conquest V.H.P., La Grande Classique de Longines, The Longines Elegant Collection, Heritage
Women’s model: La Grande Classique de Longines
Men’s model: The Longines Master Collection
Retail prices
From CHF 1,000 to 4,000
Annual production


On vintage wings

These models that have marked the history of watchmaking have now been updated for the Heritage collection. We thus discover the Lindbergh Hour Angle watch, developed by Longines in collaboration with the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, who successfully completed the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris in 33 hours and 30 minutes in 1927. “Confirming its essential contribution to air navigation at the time, the Lindbergh watch helped set a large number of aviation records,” states the house. In the same vein, the Longines Weems Second-Setting Watch has become an essential accessory for pilots and sailors.

It is based on an invention by US Navy officer Captain Weems that made it possible to synchronise a watch to the nearest second without disrupting the mechanism, using a time signal broadcast by radio. For military purposes, Longines also developed the Longines Avigation Watch Type A-7 1935 for the Americans in 1935, followed by timepieces for the British Royal Air Force in the 1940s that inspired the present-day Longines Heritage Military. Diving with the 1960s Legend Diver, sports performance with the 1954 Conquest, and emerging elegance with the 1957 Flagship all still nourish the themes of this collection, whose retro accents keep the Longines winged hourglass flying high.

The Longines Heritage Classic in steel with two-zone silvered dial and black leather strap.

Inspiration from the 1930s

The Heritage line is an emphatic tribute to the ethos that has driven Longines since the very beginning: providing high quality, precision watches for all situations, from the most adventurous to the most elegant. The Longines Heritage Classic, which reinterprets an older model with a typical 1930s aesthetic, belongs firmly in the latter category. To reflect today’s tastes, the diameter of the timepiece has been enlarged from 32.5 mm to 38.5 mm. But its sector dial – very popular at the time, and now hugely sought after by collectors – featuring Arabic numerals, small seconds at 6 o’clock and slender hands, is perfectly in keeping with the original style. Imbued with timeless charm, it is driven by the exclusive new L893 calibre, which features a silicon balance spring for guaranteed precision. This new Heritage model comes with a blue nubuck or semimatt black leather strap. A NATO-inspired anthracite jeans-effect leather strap is also available.