Past Perfect: 185 Years of Longines Timepieces



As we approach the end of 2017, and before we turn our attention to what’s next, there’s an important milestone to acknowledge: the founding of Longines some 185 years ago.

It would be impossible to chronicle every important timepiece ever issued by the Saint-Imier, Switzerland–based watchmaker since 1832. Or to list its innumerable claims to fame, from introducing the first crown-wound pocket watch to serving as official timekeeper of the French Open to naming Kate Winslet as its Ambassador of Elegance in 2010.

But in honor of the Swiss watch house’s 185th Anniversary, here’s a look at three of its most celebrated timepieces. All were part of a retrospective exhibit at this fall’s WatchTime New York Show, which featured reissued watches from the Swiss brand’s popular Heritage Collection.

LONGINES LINDBERGH HOUR ANGLE

Then

Lindbergh original hour angle watch longinesThe original model

Charles Lindbergh famously made the first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, between Roosevelt Field (New York) and Le Bourget (Paris) on May 20 and 21, 1927, on board the Spirit of Saint Louis. Following this achievement, Lindbergh conceived the design of the Hour Angle Watch, whose production was then entrusted to Longines. Launched in the 1930s, the model allowed for accurate determination of the longitude during long-distance flights so that pilots and navigators could find their geographic location quickly, efficiently, and with great accuracy.

longines hour angle watch lindbergh drawingLindbergh’s drawing of the prototype

Now

No question that in a modern-day context, Lindbergh’s rep is less than sterling (see: vaguely familiar “America First” anti-Semitic politics and a scandal involving the kidnap and murder of his two-year-old son). But his pivotal role in America’s aviation and cultural history, and in raising Longines’ profile in the U.S. market, make the newly minted Longines Hour Angle perfect for a certain kind of collector.

90th annviversary longines hour angle lindbergh watchThe Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch 90th Anniversary, a new edition of the legendary timepiece in a numbered series limited to 90 watches

Coinciding with the 90th anniversary of “Lucky Lindy’s” epic feat, the modern edition of the timepiece features indication of longitude (in degrees and minutes of arc), a rotating center dial for synchronization of the second hand with a radio time signal, and a rotating bezel to adjust to daily variations in the equation of time.

 

LONGINES FLAGSHIP

Then
Longines sold its first Flagship watch, which is named for the leading ship of a navy’s commander-in-chief, in 1957 and quickly won over clients with its white dial, thin profile, and fine fasteners. Each Flagship was further distinguished by the image of an antique warship stamped on the back of the case.

Longines Flagship watch 1957The original Flagship model cataloged in the Longines workshop circa 1957

Brochure Flagship ENG 1943 1968Brochure for the Flagship series in its heyday

Now
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of this iconic timepiece, this year Longines debuted the Flagship Heritage—60th Anniversary 1957–2017. It’s a chic update to the original thanks to Longines Ambassador of Elegance Kate Winslet, who influenced the design of the face (the British actress fell in love with a model on view during a visit to the brand’s headquarters).

Available in steel, yellow gold or rose gold, the gold versions are limited to 60 watches while the steel versions are limited to 1957 watches. The anniversary edition also bears the signature “Flagship” stamp.
Longines new Flagship watchThe Flagship Heritage—60th Anniversary 1957–2017 in 18k rose gold with a brushed silvery dial is adorned with indexes and Arabic numerals in rose gold colors and a brown leather strap.

 

LONGINES RAILROAD

Then
Punctuality has been a vital ingredient in the development of a secure and reliable railway system. At the beginning of the 20th century, Longines watches were worn by the employees of many railway companies, whose work necessitated a precise design of good quality. Soon the watchmaker became a go-to for railway company professionals on an international level, from Romania and Italy to Persia and the United States.

Original Longines Railroad watch

The original “Longines Railroad,” pictured above, was a model developed in the 1960s. The letters RR (for railroad) can be seen on the original dial.

 Now

New Longines RailRoad watch

The new Longines Railroad, pictured above, likewise features RR on the dial, but the indication “280” that was seen on the original, and referred to the timepiece’s calibre of movement, has been replaced by the inscription “888” on the reissued model—a nod to the movement that drives the new release.

 

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All That Glitters writer

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