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Longines - Longines at the French Open

Longines Longines at the French Open

For the second year running Longines is betting that its Conquest V.H.P. will appeal to clay court fans. But a lot more hangs on this bet than just a choice of watch.

It’s rare for a watch to stay centre stage for so long. The Conquest V.H.P., which was launched two years ago, continues to be in the spotlight at many of the events Longines sponsors. This year, for the second year in a row, it’s the model the watchmaker has chosen to accompany the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros.

Longines at the French Open

Conquest V.H.P. in 43mm © Longines

And there are also plenty of anniversaries to celebrate. 2018, for example, is Walter Von Kanel’s thirtieth year as CEO (1988 – 2018). It was his decision to bring back the concept of high-precision quartz. Longines was a major contributor to the birth of this concept in 1984 – another anniversary – 35 years! That was the launch year of the first V.H.P. – which stands for Very High Precision. This high-precision calibre followed in the footsteps of the Ultra-quartz – in 1969, already a significant achievement in terms of isochronism.

Courting glamour

As far as the French Open is concerned, Longines could have chosen to celebrate ten years’ partnership with celebrity tennis couple André Agassi and Steffi Graf. They are Longines ambassadors both on the court and off. But they have not been to Roland Garros together since the beginning of their association with Longines, ten years ago.

Longines at the French Open

Walter von Känel, Andre Agassi, Stefanie Graf and Juan-Carlos Capelli © Longines

Back then, Longines had just taken over as timekeeping partner of the tournament, a contract negotiated in 2007. It was a masterstroke, given the status of Paris’s famous red clay in the international tennis world. Since then other watchmakers, however prestigious, have been forced to fight over the crumbs, as it were, through the players. Longines, however, remains the only watchmaker with global visibility throughout the tournament.

A strategic choice

Given this prestigious setting, why did they choose to focus on the Conquest V.H.P., rather than a higher-status watch which would no doubt have been equally appealing to the tennis-loving visitors to the Porte d’Auteuil? “Because currently there’s no alternative,” the company explains. “950 CHF for exclusive quartz, at this level of technology – there’s no one.” Translation: the watchmaker has chosen to focus on an avenue where, for the time being, it stands alone. With an accuracy of plus or minus five seconds per year, which is 400 times more precise than a mechanical watch, and an anti-magnetic movement capable of displaying not only a chronograph but also a perpetual calendar, it’s hard to argue with.

Longines at the French Open

Conquest V.H.P. in 41mm © Longines

Slowly but surely, what Longines is offering at Roland Garros is not just a watch model but a new standard – high-precision quartz. With this type of movement, the watch industry seems finally to be embracing quartz not from the bottom (reducing costs through volume) but from the top (providing high technological added value to increase perceived value and commercial desirability). Mass-market quartz, a thorn in the side of the Swiss watch industry for 50 years, could soon become an irrelevance. And it’s about time too.

The brand

Based in St. Imier since 1832, Longines has a long tradition in watchmaking, characterised by the elegance of its watches. Using expertise gained as the company has evolved, Longines has gradually forged ties with the world of sport, where it demonstrates its excellence in precision timekeeping. Today, Longines is the oldest brand still in business, unchanged, in the international registers held by the World Intellectual Property Organization...

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