2012 coincides with the 180th anniversary of Longines, with gray hair, a healthy body, quick thinking, and resolute eyes. Mr. Walter von Känel, the 71-year-old president of Longines, tells the Swiss about ‘time domain’ How the children of the Saint-Imier Valley in the Jura Mountains grew up with this local soul brand: ‘In my childhood, the Longines watch factory was already located at the foot of Saint-Imier. Making a living, this scene impressed me deeply and made me believe that I would one day be the same. By then the watchmaking industry had flourished in this area, and I firmly believe that one day Will take me to explore the whole world! ‘
1. WT: Can you summarize the important journey Longines has taken in the past 180 years?
WVK: 180 years is very long. From a small valley workshop to today, the important journey of Longines probably includes the following:
(1) From the watch assembly workshop to the Longines watch factory (1832-1867)
In 1832, Auguste Agassiz joined the watch and clock workshop in Saint-Imier, thereby entering the watch manufacturing industry, and soon took charge of this workshop, and began to actively expand overseas sales. Later generations, following their steps, actively thought about how to improve the long-established ‘assembly watch manufacturing method’ in the Jura mountain area at the time: scattered tasks were led by various professional craftsmen, independent parts were manufactured, and finally the assembly workshop was responsible for assembly and sales of finished products. The assembly workshop in the Soymian Valley was strongly aware of the shortcomings of this fragmented assembly system and began to find ways to integrate. In a place called ‘les Longines’ on the banks of the valley, the ancestors bought an old mill, gathered professional craftsmen scattered in their homes, and started to use the ascendant machining process. This is The predecessor of Longines Watch Factory.
It is commendable that the head of the time has realized that the processing capability of the rough movement is a strategic element of a watch manufacturing brand, and has actively created all conditions to achieve it: including the development of related mechanical tools, and exploring the greatest possibilities of mechanical manufacturing.
(2) In 1876, the impact from the Philadelphia World’s Fair made Longines a pioneer in mechanized watchmaking
The 1876 Philadelphia World’s Fair is still regarded today as a catalyst for the traditional Swiss watchmaking process to become industrial. At that time, Longines competed with American brands such as Waltham and Elgin, and deeply felt the huge difference in the way of working organization with the American watchmaking industry. Jacques David, then representative of the Interstate Industrial Association of the Jura Mountains, Switzerland, and engineer of Longines Watch Factory, submitted a report from the United States to change the organization of production in order to resist competition from the Americas. Longines has also become Switzerland since then. A pioneer in the mechanization of watchmaking.
(3) The first manual movement and chronograph movement came out
In 1867, Longines launched its first self-developed 20A movement: it used a lever principle to wind the crown and was commended at the Paris World’s Fair. Subsequently, the brand’s pace of developing new self-produced movements was unstoppable.
In 1878, the first Longines 20H movement with chronograph function was born for sports timing. Soon after the launch of 20H, he frequently appeared in various arenas. In 1881, when people saw multiple advertisements in major New York publications, this timing tool was inseparable from the image of the American racetrack. By 1886, most sports referees in the New York area were equipped with Longines. The brand’s vigorous development of timing technology throughout the 20th century.
(4) Began to maintain brand honor and reputation (1867-1889)
All Longines watches and movements produced since 1867 bear the words ‘Longines’ or hourglass wings. In 1880, Longines registered its trademark with the Swiss Federal Intellectual Property Office, and the hourglass wing logo was successfully registered in 1889. In 1893, with the successful registration with the International Bureau of Intellectual Property Protection (the predecessor of the World Intellectual Property Organization), Longines trademarks and hourglass wings began to be protected internationally. Longines has thus become the earliest registered trademark brand of the World Intellectual Property Organization and still in use today.
(5) Towards a new watch production system
At the same time as the way of working, quality control and monitoring in the manufacturing process have gradually been put on the agenda by Longines. After the movement is assembled and placed in the case, a final quality check is performed by an experienced watchmaker. If the accuracy of the travel time is abnormal, it will be returned to the adjustment workshop or the production upstream workshop. After the quality inspection is completed, all case and movement numbers and related data will be registered in the log. As a basis for product quality control, a set of systems that can identify all movements and products and traceability is established.
(6) Access to the world market
At the beginning of the 20th century, Longines strengthened its business contacts with the American market, which was established during the early years. Despite the emergence of strong domestic competitors, Longines is still selling well in the United States and the entire North American market. In 1900, Longines won other important awards such as the Paris World Expo Awards, which brought Longines into a wider international market.
2. WT: What are the brands currently in the main markets?
WVK: Currently, Asia, Europe and the United States are our strong markets. Based on a consistent understanding of these markets, product development plans, market plans, and pricing plans are strictly matched to consumer demand in these regions.
3. WT: For the 180th anniversary, what will Longines do in the global and Chinese markets?
WVK: This fall, in Somia, the birthplace of Longines, we have a grand birthday celebration. Imagine where Longines was born in 1832, and today Longines is still thriving here. Of course, we have different celebration plans for different markets. In addition, Longines has published a book that traces its long 180-year history, telling the history I just outlined, and more brand stories. And as you can see, many of the 180th anniversary models or replica watches at Basel’s watch exhibition were unveiled and will be released one after another during the year, so stay tuned.
4. WT: If you want to sum up, what is the position and significant share of Longines in the Chinese market?
WVK: Today, in the world, Longines should rank fourth in profitability among all Swiss brands, and it has a rising trend. It should be said to be among the best in the Chinese market. I think this should be attributed to the product lines with various styles and styles, the wide pricing range, the broad sales network in Greater China (the important commercial locations throughout the Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau), as well as the traditional Chinese cultural institutions. Ci: No one in China is going home without gifts!
5. WT: With the promotion of the media, it is known that Longines has a close relationship with equestrian and tennis. What are the similarities between these two sports and the brand? What are the plans for future integration with sports?
WVK: First of all they are ‘elegant’ and ‘traditional’ sports, which are also the keywords of Longines. For decades, Longines has worked very closely in sports, such as equestrian, gymnastics, and skiing. Our strategy is to highlight the aesthetic and humanistic significance of these sports, because they are so consistent with the important characteristics, brand image and brand philosophy of Longines products. The conclusion of these partners represents the creation of a natural fit, because it is like a brand slogan As advertised: elegance is an attitude! These collaborations were long doomed in Longines’ blood.
Longines’ enthusiasm for equestrian sports actually began in 1878, when a delicate chronograph was specially produced for equestrian sports, with a jockey and his horse carved on it. Today, Longines has personally participated in many equestrian sports including flat races, obstacle races and endurance races; and it is also the designated timer and official partner of many well-known events around the world.
Here I am honored to tell Chinese watch fans that with the combination of Longines and equestrian sports around the world, we are very honored to be the title sponsor and official timekeeper of the Beijing Equestrian Masters Cup. We must know that this is the top equestrian sports in Asia. It’s up!
Cooperation with tennis is deepening. Since 2007, Longines has become the official partner of the French Open, and organized the ‘Longines Future Tennis Aces’ league within the framework of the game to do its best to discover and cultivate tomorrow’s tennis champions. And on the ‘Longines Elegance Ambassadors’ list, Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf, the pair of enviable tennis players are also very eye-catching. They use their charm to inspire and inspire the younger generation, and selflessly promote and help the youth education charity project, which perfectly explain the brand philosophy: elegance is an attitude.
In addition, perhaps readers are unaware that because of various common points, Longines also has long-term and close cooperation with sports such as gymnastics, alpine skiing, and archery. Sports, an extremely open and infinite world, provides Longines with a good opportunity to show the value and charm of the brand to more and more audiences around the world.
6. WT: If you have another chance to choose in life, would you still choose to stay in the watchmaking industry with most of your life and explore the whole world with watchmaking?
WVK: This is a lifetime! !!
7. WT: When you look forward to the 200th anniversary of the brand, what is your vision?
WVK: That’s a great question. I hope I can see the splendor of the time with my own eyes!