SPONSORS: LONGINES

Name: Longines

Longines is a Swiss watch company that wwas involved in Formula 1 in the 1980s. The firm is currently owned by the Swatch Group. Longines traces its history back to 1833 when Auguste Agassiz, Florian Morel and Henri Raiguel established a watch-making business in Saint-Imier, near Neuchatel in northern Switzerland. Eventually Agassiz became the sole owner and in in 1862 handed control of the company over to his nephew Ernest Francillon. He had bigger ideas about the business and in 1866 bought two plots of land in a hamlet called Les Longines and built a factory, aiming to improve quality by doing everything in-house. In 1867 he began to manufacture watches with a unique new winding mechanism, replacing the keys that had been used prior to that. This was shown at the Universal Exhibition in Paris later that year. The company almost failed in 1870 but innovation became the company's trademark in the years that followed with a string of prizes at exhibitions and ever-increasing demand for the watches. Francillon would go on to become mayor of St Imier and and the vice-president of the Jura canton. In addition to building up the watch industry he played an important role in the development of Swiss railways. When he died in 1900 the company was renamed in his honour, becoming the Longines Compagnie des Montres, Francillon SA. When watches moved from pockets to wrists, Longines was one of the first companies to move into mass-production. The company used sport to promote its activities, beginning in 1912 with the world's first automatic timing system created for the Swiss Federal Gymnastics Meeting in Basel. The company was also associated with aviators in the early years of flying and in the 1920s moved into equestrian competition as well. In the 1950s Longines began an association with the Olympic Games while designing ground-breaking ultra-slim watches. In 1971 the company was bought the Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhren AG company (ASUAG) which owned brands such as Certina, Eterna and Oris. In 1980 Longines began an association with Ferrari in Formula 1 and this was followed by a similar arrangement with Renault and ultimately for Longines to become the official timekeeper of F1. At the same time, the watch business was undergoing huge changes with the arrival of electronic watches. This led to the collapse of ASUAG and a merger with another watch conglomerate called SSIH in 1983. The company was then taken private in 1985 by Nicholas Hayek and was the basis of what is today the Swatch Group. Longines left F1 in 1988 when TAG-Heuer became the official timekeeper of the sport.

Print