Founded in 1832, Longines are one of the oldest Swiss watchmakers and an early pioneer of machine manufacturing in the early 19th Century. Such was the popularity of Longines that they became one of the first brands to be registered with the World Intellectual Property Organisation to prevent copies being made.view all Longines
The History of Longines Watches
The Longines brand is not one to be overlooked - its history and pedigree are up there with the best of them. The company started way back in 1832 under Auguste Agassiz, who formed a partnership with a watch workshop in Saint-Imier. Originally called 'Agassiz and Compagnie,' it wasn't until 1866, when the nephew of Agassiz, Ernest Francillon, took over the business and moved it to an old amalgam mill on the banks of the river Suze on a patch of land known as, 'Les Longines,' that the company was re-named 'Longines'.
Francillon was one of the first pioneers of machine-manufacturing in watchmaking, producing movement blanks, or ébauches, in the Longines workshop. In 1867, because of this development, he was able to entirely design his own calibre, the Longines 20A, a mechanical movement with pendant winding. Francillon and his engineers took this movement to the 1876 Philadelphia Universal Exhibition, where they discovered just how far ahead the Americans were with their machine-manufacturing. Despite resistance from the Swiss workers, Longines continued developing their manufacturing processes in an effort to keep Switzerland at the forefront of watchmaking technology.
The product of their hard work earned Francillon and the Longines team numerous awards and distinctions in watchmaking, and such was their recognition and success that it became necessary to manufacture authenticity markings onto their movements. For this, the Longines winged hourglass logo was created. All the Longines names and logos were registered with the various intellectual property registrations during the 1890's, making Longines the oldest brand name to be registered with WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
When Longines increased its market to the Americas, it continued to improve its manufacturing processes, earning it the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition Grand Prize. The development of quality control and production recording made Longines one of the first watchmakers to step into the mechanical age. By the start of the twentieth century, the Longines factory employed 1200 people in a village of barely 8000.
Despite a serious lull through the First World War, and again through the great depression in the 1930's, Longines managed to pull themselves back out of the mire and begin developing calibres again. They followed the technological advancements of the era closely, producing their own chronographs, automatic movements and chronometer grade movements with good levels of success. The accuracy and robustness of the movements gave them a reputation as the professional go-to equipment, and although the Rolex Deep-Sea Special gains all the credit in the bathyscaphe Trieste dives in the 50's and 60's, it is little known that the bathyscaphe itself was fitted with Longines equipment.
Rather than fighting technical development, Longines embraced it, and the quartz revolution that knocked out so many watchmakers heralded an era of invention for them. In a collaboration with Paillard-Bolex, the Longines quartz-clock was combined with a high-speed camera to create a device that could record and time sport to within one-hundredth of a second.
Many other collaborations were founded with sporting manufacturers, including Ferrari's F1 team, and Longines have continued to provide timing equipment for a variety of sports, as well as also producing elegant and robust wrist watches consistently through the years.
The 1920's marked a turning point in history for style, fashion and art - freedom of expression grew, the desire for nonessential consumer goods... read more
Ask our experts
Need a little help?
We can help you find the watch you're looking for, even if it isn't in our stock
We can search our network of manufacturer authorised retailers to find you a new watch
We can notify you when specific watches become available
To contact our team of experts call 01622 621 390
or choose from one of the options below
Your enquiry has been successful, we'll be in touch soon
The Watch Magazine
Omega SpeedmasterPosted 27 Apr 2011
The Omega Speedmaster is steeped in history, and its journey to the moon is a well-documented, often recounted story. Its ascension to becoming NASA’s choice watch didn’t happen over-night however, and wasn’t ever the... more
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor DivingPosted 27 Apr 2011
When Jacques Cousteau first invented the aqualung in 1942, it revolutionised diving. Bulky suits that had to be completely sealed were no longer necessary, continuous air feeds were a thing of the past and the... more