Longines: Elegance, tradition and performance

Elegance, tradition and performance
Longines has been based at Saint-Imier in Switzerland since 1832. Its watchmaking expertise reflects a
strong devotion to tradition, elegance and performance.With many years of experience as a timekeeper for
world championships in sport or as a partner of international sports federations, Longines – famous for the
elegance of its timepieces – is a member of the Swatch Group Ltd, the world’s leading manufacturer of
horological products. The brand known by its winged hourglass logo now has outlets in over 140 countries.

In 1832 Auguste Agassiz entered the world of horology when he joined a trading office established in St. Imier.
He soon rose to become the manager and the company took on the name Agassiz & Co. At the 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
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 which 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 1,100 workers and sold its products all over 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 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.

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