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Longines vintage watch

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History of Longines vintage watch

The Swiss brand Longines has a wonderful history. These watches witnessed the outstanding events of the late ХIХ – early XX centuries, as they were owned by many courageous people. Among them was Charles Lindbergh, the first man ever to perform a nonstop flight over the Atlantic Ocean all alone. He created the pilot watch model for Longines, which was later named after him. Both, Amundsen having conquered the North Pole, and Byrd, having made a flight over the South Pole, faced these historic challenges with a Longines watch on their wrist. The Longines timepieces were on board of the famous Graf Zeppelin airship, having made the round-the-world flight. That’s why they call Longines the pioneer watches.

The company’s history began in 1832, when Auguste Agassiz came to  Saint-Imier and joined the workshop “Comptoir horloger Raiguel Jeune”. In one year, Agassiz together with Florian Morel and Henri Raiguel established a watchmaking business “Comptoir Raiguel Jeune & Cie”. The same year, one of Auguste’s sisters married Charles-Marc Francillon, a merchant from Lausanne. In 1834, she gave birth to their son, Ernest Francillon.

In 1838, Henri Raiguel withdrew from business, and Auguste Agassiz together with Florian Morel renamed the company to “Comptoir Agassiz & Cie”. In 1847, Agassiz became the workshop’s only owner. In a few years, in 1852, his nephew Ernest Francillon joined the company. And in 1862, he replaced his uncle. That is how “Ancienne Maison Auguste Agassiz, Ernest Francillon, Successeur” appeared. At that time, the watchmaking workshops engaged individual workers working mostly from home.

In 1866, Ernest Francillon purchased a land parcel at the right bench of the river Suze in the town of Les Longines. He gathered all people fostering production under the same roof. It was the first Longines workshop.

After the workshop was established in 1867, the masters started working on the first Longines mechanism of the L20A Caliber. At that time, the watches were usually wound with the help of a key. Longines broke with the tradition, having created a mechanism, in which the winding and time setting functions were effected with the help of a crown. Starting with the very first model of 1867, Ernest Francillon would engrave a winged hourglass on every timepiece. In 1874, he urged all Longines customers to beware of fakes.

On May 10, 1880, the Longines brand was officially registered in Switzerland and, thus, became the first one in the Swiss watchmaking industry. Moreover, on May 27, 1889, at 16:00, the brand was internationally registered in the Federal Office of Intellectual Property in Bern under number 2684. Since that moment and until now, the winged hourglass remains the symbol of Longines.

While the watches have been gradually moving from the waistcoat pockets to the wrists, Longines became the first company to have established a serial production of wristwatches in 1905. This innovation led to a complete reorganization of the workshop and production process in the 20s-30s.

Back in 1912, the Longines watches for the first time changed their round shape to make a better use of the esthetical possibilities of other shapes. The revolutionary rectangular and square watches of that time have marked a new century of the Longines watch design. Thanks to the improvement of skills and the development of technologies, the style, tastes and trends of the watch fashion started changing.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh performed the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris over the Atlantic Ocean. Longines recorded the time of flight. Later on, Lindbergh developed a device for Longines with an hour angle function, which became a timepiece for pilots.

In the 30s, Longines successfully recorded the time of a number of various expeditions, one of which was the flight of Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly from Novaya Zemlya to Ireland in 1932. The expeditions of the first aviators inspired Longines to create one more navigation watch – a siderograph.

Back in 1960, Longines presented the world the thinnest electromagnetic watch. Nineteen years later, in 1979, the company set a new record, having created another thinnest watch – Feuille d’Or (Cal. L795), which was less than 2 mm thin (1,98 mm). The secret of this model is its mechanism entirely incorporated into the watchcase.

In 1984, the company launched the production of Conquest with a VHP mechanism (a very high accuracy) specially developed by the Longines engineers. Thanks to the thermal compensation system, this watch is 5-10 times more accurate than the ordinary quartz watches.

Together with the release of the famous Longines collection DolceVita based on the Longines models of the 20s-30s, the company also presented its new motto in 1997: “Elegance du temps depuis 1832”. In two years, there came out the actual advertising campaign – “Elegance is an attitude”, which used the characters of the world movie legends, Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, as well at the representatives of various creative professions symbolizing elegance in the modern interpretation. In 1999, Longines DolceVita received a prestigious French award “Gold Dial” in the “Gents’ class luxe watches“ category. 

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