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The oldest watch brand in the world
The Pilot Watch Magazine
05 July 2024

Elegant and high quality watches for men and women

Longines is a traditional Swiss watch manufacturer. The company traces its roots to a historic production facility in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, in the canton of Bern, where its headquarters are still located today. The watchmaker with the winged hourglass in its logo was founded in 1832 by Swiss watchmaker and entrepreneur Auguste Agassiz, together with watchmakers Henri Raiguel and Florian Morel, as a watch trading and manufacturing company. Soon Agassiz was presenting the timepieces, which were appreciated by his customers as being of particularly high quality, at trade fairs throughout Europe and within a very short time acquired an excellent reputation that extended far beyond the borders of Switzerland.

In 1854, his nephew Ernest Francillon took over the management of the company. In 1866, he buys a plot of land outside Saint-Imier called Les Longines, meaning the elongated meadows, to set up a watch factory. The new manufacturing plant starts producing pocket watches in 1867. Each one is marked E. Francillon, Longines, Suisse. To protect against counterfeiters and imitators, the Longines name is first recorded with the Swiss Federal Office of Intellectual Property and then finally registered in 1893. Longines has since been considered the oldest registered watch brand in the world.

For a long time, Longines has maintained close ties with the world of aviation.


Longines and Charles Lindbergh

In 1903, three years after Francillon’s death, Longines presented the first ladies’ wristwatches, followed two years later by exclusive men’s wristwatches, which bit by bit displaced the classic pocket watches from the market. In the years to come, the company devoted itself in particular to timekeeping in sports and supported scientific expeditions. Longines became particularly famous for the timing of the historic crossing of the Atlantic by the American aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh in 1927. Following his record-breaking flight, Lindbergh remained a consultant to the watchmaker for a long time, helping to develop new navigation watches.

New home with the Swatch Group

After the two world wars, the first Longines wristwatch with automatic winding was launched, and in 1952 the company was the official timekeeper of the Winter Olympics in Oslo. Other groundbreaking developments followed, such as a model with an extremely flat movement and a particularly precise automatic wristwatch. Nevertheless, the Swiss watch manufacturer finds itself in economic difficulties at the beginning of the 1980s with the emergence of quartz watches as mass-produced goods. As a result, the company was integrated into the SMH Group, which today unites numerous other well-known brands such as Blancpain, Breguet, Omega and Swatch under its umbrella as the Swatch Group. In the meantime, Longines is once again one of the world’s most successful and well-known watch brands.

Pilot watches from Longines

The Longines product range includes both ladies’ and men’s watches of all stripes – including, of course, outstanding pilot’s watches. For a long time now, Longines has maintained a close connection with the world of aviation. Through its variety of pilot watches and pilot chronographs, on-board instruments and other navigational instruments, the brand has accompanied the development of civil and military aviation throughout the first half of the 20th century. Today, Longines is reviving this exciting legacy with contemporary models.

More from Longines

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