A history in time

fashion November 09, 2017 01:00

By THE NATION

Longines brings some of its most precious timepieces to Bangkok as it celebrates 185 years of business



MARKING 185 years of successful watchmaking, Swiss watch brand, Longines is bringing the celebrations of this occasion to Bangkok with an exhibition that runs until Tuesday at Eden 2 Square on the second floor of CentralWorld.

Swatch Group Trading (Thailand), which represents Longines here, is showcasing 29 timepieces from the Longines Museum allowing Thai watch enthusiasts to admire their timeless beauty.

Established in 1832 in Saint-lmier, Switzerland by Auguste Agassiz, the brand started out as a counter offering made-to-order watches. Back then, watches were manufactured at home by local craftsmen, who brought them to Agassiz for finishing and sale. In 1867, his nephew Ernest Francillon took over the business and built the very first factory, bringing together under one roof all the stages of the manufacture of watch movements. To set up his project, he bought a piece of land known as “Es Longines”, the local dialect for “Long Meadows”, which later became the brand’s name. 

Many masterpieces were created here, reflecting the glorious past of Longines and some of those rare pieces from the Longines Museum are now in show in Bangkok. From 1832 to the 1930’s, Longines produced a majority of pocket watches. The brand focused at the beginning on robust timepieces, before producing extra-thin pieces, sometimes decorated like true jewels. On display are an 1892 pocket watch with picturesque decoration and another with a floral ornament in gold plate and niello produced in 1915. A third, in gold with a beautiful 24-hour dial, was made in 1917.

Throughout its history Longines has produced beautiful ladies wristwatches as the three models displayed here attest. Whether in gold or set with diamonds, the two watches in the exhibition, made in 1917 and 1959 respectively, are timeless, their elegance based on simplicity and perfection.

At the end of 1956, just after the collection’s name was registered, the first Flagship models were designed. The collection featured an image stamped or engraved on the case back and paid homage to the name of the collection, Flagship, after the vessel upon which the flag of the fleet’s commanding officer ripples in the wind. 

With adventurers exploring the four corners of the globe in the first half of the 20th century, the watchmaker developed a number of watches to help pilots calculate their position and trajectory and a series of devices for air and sea navigation.

The exhibition displays a marine chronometer in a wood box dated 1918, mounted on gimbals and used on board ocean-going ships to determine the longitude.

In terms of wrist-chronographs, since its first pocket-chronograph from 1878, Longines has been intrinsically linked to the world of sport with several models dedicated either to professional timekeepers or amateur athletes. Visitors can admire a timepiece fitted with the first Longines movement for a wrist-chronograph, calibre 13.33Z (1930) and another wrist-chronograph fitted with the Longines calibre 12.68Zstop (1946). 

In 1939, Longines launched calibres designed especially for timing sports events. These movements, such as the calibre 260, included the latest technological features of the day and made it easier to read off the times achieved and also met the stringent demands of high-level competitions in many different disciplines. 

In addition to mechanic watches, this exhibition also displays quartz watches, which transformed the timepiece industry back in the 1970s. One of the highlights was an electronic quartz movement, the 800 calibre, for on-board chrono-meters, developed in 1965. This time-measuring device opened the way to new heights of accuracy.

Later in 1969, Longines launched the first cybernetic quartz calibre for a wristwatch, the L6512, named Ultra-Quartz. Longines’ dedication to research and development led to many new innovations, while maintaining its quality and classic sophistication, appealing to discerning clients who look for both functionality and tastefulness.