The Longines story starts back in 1832 when Auguste Agassiz opened a small ‘comptoir’ (workshop) in St. Imier. One of Auguste’s sisters married Marc Francillon, a shopkeeper from Lausanne and in 1834 they had a son, Ernest Francillon. At that time watch-making in the area used the skills of people working away from the ‘comptoir’, often at home. In 1866, Ernest Francillon constructed a factory on fields at “Es Longines”, near to St. Imier, and brought all of the watch-making skills under one roof – this was the first “Longines factory”.
Anyone concerned with the history of Longines of Saint-Imier is bound to plunge into the most thrilling adventures, which have become the stuff of legend of modern times. Longines developed aviators’ watches and cockpit instruments. Longines led the field as time-keepers to the world of sports, developing precision stop watches for athletes. Longines was at the Olympic Games and ensured that athletes’ performances were accurately recorded.
But it is not merely to its top-quality range that this watch-making firm owes its greatness and importance. By the time Longines was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the registration of the brand-name and logotype – the winged hour-glass – in 1967, the Saint-Imier watchmakers had made 15 million watches and sold them all. For all these reasons, therefore, Longines is a virtually inexhaustible mine of reasonably priced collectors’ items, ranging from pocket chronometers to classic wrist-watches and milestones of quartz technology.