Longines 2021: Where Elegance, Heritage and Performance Meet
Discover the Longines 2021 novelties with an insider preview courtesy of the Swiss watch brand’s VP, Sales Xavier Ligero.
How has the global pandemic impacted Longines?
The biggest impact on Longines was the closing of our retailer boutiques for more than 6 months in some parts of the world. But thanks to the digitisation of our business, we could mitigate that by mobilising the distribution channel for markets with e-commerce capabilities while speeding that up in other markets without e-commerce. Today, 13 out of our 38 subsidiaries are equipped with e-shopping and the objective is to be 100% online by the end of this year and to be able to offer this to our retailers. Despite that, we believe in an online/offline balance in distribution and communication. Currently, we are bolstering our social media presence to enhance consumer and follower engagement, and to facilitate buying processes which may begin online with the gathering of technical information before physical sales.
Longings VP, Sales Xavier Ligero
What are the guidelines for Longines to continually strike such a successful balance between heritage and elegance?
Thank you for the compliment and as what I was saying, when it comes to design, our history is in St-Imier, where we have been since 1832. We always reference our heritage while encouraging innovation and adhering to our historical roots that are very strongly reflected in our aesthetical codes. We also try to push our designs as far as possible while retaining quality norms where our biggest advantage is our quality versus price balance where we are No 1 globally right now in the industry for our price segment.
The Legend Diver is a watch that was designed in the early ’60s but whose timeless design gives it a modern appearance with the addition of new technology and colours. It’s a very good example of how we conceive, design and develop our watches—looking at our rich history as a traditional brand that is deeply rooted in the 3 pillars: elegance, heritage and performance, in keeping with the aesthetical codes of the 190 years of our history.
Longines Legend Diver
How did the Legend Diver’s distinct feature of the internal bezel come about versus an external bezel?
Longines was one of the pioneers of the internal turning dials or bezels from the beginning of the manufacture with good expertise in internal turning dials and then bezels for diving watches. After the Skin Diver with an external rotating bezel was created in 1958, we designed the Legend Diver with the bigger compressor case in the ’60s to maximise the security of the watch while underwater. The Legend Diver’s internal bezel requires a very complicated internal construction to design to allow the indicators and gradation on the bezel to merge perfectly with those on the dial.
What distingushes the Skin Diver, Legend Diver and HydroConquest?
In the coming future, we strongly believe that the Legend Diver will help us to narrate the history of Longines diving-type watches, starting in 1958 with the Skin Diver, the first diving watch produced by Longines and a very important historical watch for us. The Legend Diver is one of our most successful heritage watch collections since 1989 together with Flagship Heritage. It is the first diver watch in our catalogue to be fitted with the new L888.5 calibre with silicon balance-spring for performance. It was the first of the 3 watches to get this great movement with 70-hour power reserve with 5-year warranty. The current rendition is a 42 mm watch with a non-reflective sapphire crystal box, featuring a stainless steel turning bezel with resistant black PVD, and 3 strap options: rubber strap; caramel brown leather which is not water-resistant but cool for a vintage watch; and mesh stainless steel bracelet.
The HydroConquest design was launched in 2007, among our 5 different Sport collections. It is available in different sizes, designs and colours with the ceramic bezel being introduced 4 years ago with pure, clean lines; more readability and new diving watch standards. It is one of the most popular and best-performing in our catalogue today worldwide—just behind our top-selling Master collection. It is a great price point for that kind of calibre, silicon balance-spring, ceramic bezel and component quality. While the HydroConquest is more “commercial”, the Legend diver is “special” in relation to our history, geared towards watch afficionados and collectors, and vintage watch lovers.
How did Silver Arrow for Longines become associated with aviation from the automotive industry originally?
The ’50s was the heyday of Mercedes and Silver Arrow cars in the racing world. Here at Longines, we developed the Silver Arrow after an in-house contest where our then- president invited and received more than 400 proposals for the name of a new timepiece with an avant-garde design. The winner was the name of “Silver Arrow” where Longines released the first Silver Arrow watch in 1956 with a symbol of a supersonic plane flying through the stars—forging the connection between racing circuits and celestial paths.
Longines Silver Arrow
What was the backstory of the extra big 30-minute counter for the Longines Avigation BigEye?
Most aviation watches at Longines and other brands in history had developed their technical specifications from the air force. Longines was contacted by an air force company for watches with a slightly bigger 30-minute counter to ensure readability. If you look at different watch brands with Type 20 watches (that’s the name of this watch style at the time), most of them had a big 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock.
Longines Avigation BigEye
For the Longines DolceVita, what inspired the evolution of the Roman numerals dial to the sectorised dial?
DolceVita is our iconic collection, launched in 1997, that propelled Longines as an important player in our price segment for ladies’ watches and gave us the perfect 50-50 balance for ladies and men’s watches. Though DolceVita was initially dedicated to women, the rectangular or square watches attracted a growing interest from men, leading to the Humphrey Bogart advertising 10 years ago with the beautiful chronograph with a silver dial and golden-brown leather strap.
In 2014, the focus again shifted DolceVita to be more delicate and feminine with only quartz models in 4 different dimensions. Then three years ago, we introduced the mechanical movement Calibre L592 to the DolceVita. This required us to widen its profile to fit the movement, making the watch more masculine despite the Roman indicators. But as male interest for the watch picked up, another dial was proposed from our history of Art Deco designs from the 1920s following which these sectored dial designs emerged in the ’40s. This is how the vintage and cool reprisal is now revealed in the new DolceVita Automatic.