In the early 1800’s Swiss watchmaking was truly a cottage-industry. Watches were produced using the “etablissage” method, where individual tradesman working out of small studios or their homes would produce parts (or sub-assemblies) which were then assembled and sold under the auspices of a single brand. In 1832, Auguste Agassiz began selling etablissage-produced watches under the name “Agassiz & Compagnie” and was particularly successful selling those watches in North America. In the 1850’s, Agassiz passed control of his company to his nephew, Ernest Francillon. Francillon wanted to modernize the production of watches and believed that bringing all the final assembly and finish operations together into one factory would be a more efficient method of production. To accomplish this, Francillon built a factory on a piece of land known as “Les Longines” and the Longines brand was born. This method of production proved to be very successful, and by the early 1900’s the Longines factory employed over 1000 people and had achieved worldwide distrubution and success with its products.
The Longines “Winged Hourglass” (actually a winged clepsydra for those who care about such things) is the oldest registered trademark for a watch company, having been registered in 1880. The Winged Hourglass logo first appeared on Longines watches in about 1867. Longines – Wittnauer The A. Wittnauer Co. became the exclusive sales agent for Longines in 1880, starting a relationship that would last for 114 years. In 1936, the Wittnauer Co. was sold by the Wittnauer family and renamed the Longines-Wittnauer Co., a name that became so linked in the minds of the public that most assume that Longines and Wittnauer watches are the same. In fact, they produced distinctly different movements, though both are of similar excellent quality.
Longines Chronographs in Sport and Aviation Longines was the first company known to have created precision timers for sporting events. They pioneered the “broken wire” system, as well as the first “photo finish” mechanism, which linked precision timing with a photographic record of the event. Longines timers are still used in many sporting events, especially equestrian and gymnastics competitions. Longines produced some really beautiful sport chronograph watches in the 30’s and 40’s, using Longines own in-house movements. Original Longines chronographs are very collectible. Longines was also famous for their Aviator’s watches. After his historic flight, Charles Lindbergh helped Longines design a pilot’s watch with special features for air-navigation.
Longines is also the official timer of the World Air Sports Federation, and has provided the timing equipment used to verify world aviation records, including Lindbergh’s historic first nonstop solo crossing of the Atlantic. Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart was also known to have worn a Longines watch. Vintage Longines – Wittnauer Watch Repair Longines produces some really beautiful wristwatches; classic designs that look as good today as they did 50 years ago.
Their watches are collectible, affordable and are often very reliable time-keepers. Another advantage for the collector is that parts can usually be found to repair Longines watches. Modern Longines Watches At the time of this writing, Longines is part of the Swatch Group, the largest Swiss watch conglomerate. We do not repair modern, battery-powered Longines watches, but please contact us if we can help you with the restoration of your vintage mechanical Longines watch.