Heritage is of the utmost significance in the world of Swiss timepiece makers. After all, Switzerland has a long, storied tradition of watchmaking that dates back several centuries. When it comes to creating timepieces, the Swiss are feted the world over for their craftsmanship, precision, and attention to detail. Many Swiss watchmaking companies have rich histories, often spanning multiple generations. They take pride in their heritage, and often emphasise the continuity of traditional craftsmanship and expertise passed down through the years. This commitment to heritage not only reflects a sense of pride but also contributes to strengthening the reputation of Swiss watches for their quality and precision. What’s more, Swiss watchmakers often incorporate traditional techniques and design elements into their modern timepieces. To reiterate, the legacy of Swiss watchmaking is not just about the watches themselves, but also about the dedication to maintaining the high standards and values that have defined the industry for centuries.
Brands often highlight this heritage in their marketing and storytelling endeavours, underscoring the longevity and reliability of their products. This connection to tradition helps earn consumers’ trust and adds a sense of timelessness to watches, making them not just functional timekeeping devices but also symbols of craftsmanship and history. One brand that has always relied on its heritage to come up with exceptional timepieces, adapted to contemporary taste and preference, is Longines. Owned by the Swatch Group, the timepiece maker recently showcased its heritage, unshakeable association with India, and forthcoming collections at The Imperial, New Delhi.
The event started with the brand representatives walking the attendees through the history of the Chronograph Flyback and its variations launched in 1929, 1937, and 1946, the Pilot Chronograph with a starting time indicator that was unveiled in 1936, the Nautilus Skin Diver of 1958, the Legend Diver of 1959, and the Diver’s Chronograph of 1968; they also discussed how modern novelties like the Mini DolceVita came into being. Daniel Hug, Head, Brand Heritage, Longines delivered a riveting presentation on the brand and what it stands for. He talked about the history of Longines ever since its inception and elaborated on how the brand was named (not after its founders though). He also highlighted the brand’s association with India and the appointment of Bollywood actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as its brand ambassador.
In his presentation, Dug showed the oldest Longines timepiece in India (circa 1878), which is now owned by Khurshed Poonawala, a Mumbai-based entrepreneur. This pocket watch was brought to India by an Englishman, who was a locomotive driver. The second oldest watch is owned by Mohd Masood, a garment businessman from Rajasthan, who’s now based in Hyderabad. The proud owner of the third oldest watch, a golden pocket watch from the 1900s, is Vikram Ranadive, an HR manager, based in Mumbai, who inherited the piece from his grandfather, who practised criminal law.
Longines also created a special pilot’s watch for the Indian Air Force, Ref. 6111-1, in 1950. This watch, housed in a 44 mm stainless steel case, was powered by Calibre 15.68N, delivering a 40-hour power reserve. The presentation also talked about how Longines developed its timepieces in the 1950s and the 1960s before moving on to modern novelties, such as the Hydroconquest that was first released in 2007 and the Conquest Sports, launched in 1954. Dug also told the attendees how alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin (American Olympic, World Cup, and World Champion) and Marco Odermatt (Swiss Ski Champion) were brought on board as brand ambassadors; they often wore the Conquest Chronograph watches, powered by Calibre L898. Towards the end of the presentation, Dug explained how Longines created square and rectangular watches in 1912 and 1922 respectively, with small seconds counters.
A lavish spread, featuring eclectic culinary items, followed the fascinating presentation — the menu included smoked duck salad, Italian chicken salad, lamb sugo ravioli, and French apple tarte Tatin and vanilla brûlé as desserts. All in all, it was an afternoon to remember.