Major milestone birthdays and anniversaries are a good time to look back, take stock, and make plans for the future. For Swiss watchmaker Longines, the brand’s 190th birthday presents a golden opportunity to do exactly that, as well as create a stunning new watch collection to mark the occasion. With their elegant details, modern movements and refined finishing, the Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary is a perfect tribute to the past, present, and future of one of Switzerland’s most accomplished watchmakers.
Founded in Saint-Imier, Switzerland in 1832, it didn’t take Longines very long to distinguish itself as a maker of finely-crafted, highly-accurate timepieces. By the 1860s, Longines was winning international awards for timekeeping, and in 1900 it received the Grand Prix at the Paris Universal Exhibition for La Renommée, a finely-finished gold chronometer pocket watch. Over the next century, Longines would continue to distinguish itself by creating some of the most accurate movements in the world, among a host of other innovations. At the same time, the brand would become known for its elegant and classically-informed approach to watch design, one which gives its pieces a uniquely timeless feel.
The Longines Master Collection 190th Anniversary takes all of the insight and experience gleaned over the last two centuries and distils it into three new designs, each of which offers a unique riff on Longines’ trademark elegant aesthetic. First, however, let’s start with what the three pieces have in common. The basic forms of these three watches are identical: a 40mm case housing a time-only dial with Breguet numerals and leaf-shaped feuille hands. Inside the case, all three share the mechanical self-winding Calibre L888.5 (ETA A31.L01), with 25’200 vibrations per hour, a power reserve of 72 hours, and a silicon balance spring – an innovation that improves accuracy by resisting changes in temperature and magnetism. Each watch is also fitted with a soft anthracite grey alligator leather strap and a triple-fold safety clasp.
While this gives each watch a consistent look and feel, distinctive differences can be found in their dial finishes and case materials. The first piece, a steel-cased model priced at $2,400, is the most low-key of the three and an unlimited edition. While priced far below the other two pieces which retail for $12,000, details like the sandblasted silver dial and blued steel hands make it exceptionally elegant for a steel watch. The next version ups the ante with a yellow gold case, matching engraved numerals and a set of finely polished yellow gold hands that glow against a vertical-brushed grey dial. A numbered and limited edition, only 190 of these will be made.
The final piece in the collection — also numbered and limited to 190 pieces — is perhaps the most handsome of the three thanks to the combination of pink gold against a deep and moody-grained anthracite dial. Like the others, this piece features an exhibition case back with a sapphire crystal display window, under which you can admire the modern movement at work. In a nod to Longines’ long history of creating fine dress watches, the movements of all three are carefully finished using a combination of perlage (small circles) and cotes de Genève (Geneva stripes). Interestingly, while the gold versions are clearly the more luxurious of the three, the “base” steel model has no less love and attention put into its details. This attention to detail, along with a steadfast belief in the power of classical design, are just a couple of the things that have kept Longines at the top of its game for 190 years.